Finding a Web Server to Call Home
You say you’re not sure exactly what kind of Web site is right for you, and you want to see all the options, from a tiny storefront in a strip mall to your own landscaped corporate park? You’re in luck. You can set up shop with a variety of different hosting services, from an auction site to an online mall to your own Internet Service Provider.
Here’s a road map of your options:
Online Web-host-and-design-kit combos: Microsoft Office Live, Google Sites, Yahoo! Small Business Merchant Solutions, and Microsoft Small Business Center (formerly called bCentral), among others.
Electronic merchant CD-ROMs: ShopSite and WebSite Complete, to name two.
eBay: A site that lets its users create their own About Me Web pages and their own stores.
Auxiliary companies: These folks do something that doesn’t seem directly related to e-commerce, but they let you build a store online, such as FedEx eCommerce Builder.
An online marketplace: You can rent a space in these sites, where you can offer specialty items for sale, such as clothing, artwork, or antiques.
Your current Internet service provider (ISP): Many ISPs are only too happy to host your e-commerce site — for an extra monthly fee in addition to your access fee.
Companies devoted to hosting Web sites full time: These are businesses whose primary function is hosting e-commerce Web sites and providing their clients with associated software, such as Web page building tools, shopping carts, catalog builders, and the like.
The first five options combine Web hosting with Web page creation kits. Whether you buy these services or get to use them on the Web for free, you simply follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Most of these hosting services enable you to create your Web pages by filling in forms; you never have to see a line of HTML code if you don’t want to. Depending on which service you choose, you have varying degrees of control over how your site ultimately looks.