If you’re in business you need a website. However, finding the time and money isn’t always easy, especially for busy professionals, sole traders and owners of small companies. Hosting specialists 1&1 Internet reckon they can get anyone online with a complete and professional site in just a couple of minutes and for less than a tenner a month. And they’re not wrong.
Having seen a lot of products aimed at this market we were a little sceptical to begin with. But 1&1′s MyBusiness Site works, and works well, because the company has put a lot of research into what different types of small businesses want in a website.
The developers have then used this knowledge to develop a set of 100 professionally designed web templates to suit various occupations and industries: everything from accountants and advertising agents through to ventilation engineers and wine merchants.
All you have to do is select an appropriate template and provide a few details, such as business name, address, contact numbers, opening hours and so on, and – voilà – you have a website. And not just a few token pages either, but a properly working site with, where appropriate, a picture gallery of previous jobs, a map showing customers where you are, an email enquiry form and lots more.
Of course, you may want to tweak the layout and you’ll definitely need to edit the generic text used, but even that’s easy. Simply click the login button at the bottom of the page and you can play around with the content right there in the browser, with simple tools to not only edit and format text, but add pages, change the design, create links, upload pictures and even incorporate YouTube videos, if you want.
You get five days to experiment with your trial site and can try out as many as you like, using different templates, until you get what you want. It’s then just a matter of providing a credit card number, choosing a domain name if you don’t have one already, and you’re done.
We tried a number of the templates, including one for restaurants, one for florists and another for builders, and had a ball.
You don’t have to be a programmer or a web developer: if you can use a word processor you can customise a MyBusiness website. Moreover, unlike other products in this market, you can add as many pages as you like. You even get hosting and email support as part of the deal, with no restrictions on the amount of traffic the site can generate, or web space either. So if you do turn out to be the next Amazon.com, success shouldn’t be a problem.
Sure, there were a few things to learn and we did make lots of mistakes. There are limits too when it comes to layout options, but it’s fun and you end up wanting to experiment. Added to which the templates are very professional, with sensible colour options and lots of top quality photographs and illustrations, plus the ability to upload and manipulate your own. Tables can also be incorporated, along with flash videos and download sections. It’s all very impressive.
On the downside, the online help is a little sparse and the industry list isn’t exhaustive, but you should find something to suit and new templates are being added all the time. Support for online shopping should also be available by the end of the year with a separate bolt-on product (1&1 eShops at £4.99 + VAT per month) available in the meantime.
Lastly, if you know anything about HTML, or someone who does, you can do what you like to your site as there are no real restrictions. But then 1&1′s MyBusiness Site caters for so many needs, and makes it all so easy, that you probably won’t need to.
Company: 1&1 Internet
Contact: 0871 641 21 21