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Fast-Track Your Website Plans

April 27, 2009
URL: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/201424

This article has been excerpted from Design and Launch an Online Web Design Business in a Week by Jason R. Rich, available from Entrepreneur Press.

Unless you're a website designer specifically trying to sell your own website designs skills, your ability to create and launch your online presence will be faster, easier, and less expensive if you take advantage of a complete website turnkey solution. Instead of having to hire a team of programmers to design and launch a website from scratch, which could take weeks or months to create and cost you thousands, if not tens of thousands, of dollars in development costs, a turnkey solution provides you with a selection of professional-looking website templates that you can customize with your own content (text, graphics, photos, animations, multimedia content).

Each template includes all of the components needed to create a highly functional website, including in many cases the ability to handle secure ecommerce transactions. Website hosting services and the ability to accept major credit cards and other online payment options is available for an additional fee, so you may not even need to acquire a separate merchant account. Many of the companies that offer turnkey solutions have even created an entire suite of easy-to-use, online tools to assist you in setting up and managing your online business.

While the many different website templates available to you may not offer flashy features you might like to incorporate into your site, they do offer the core functionality necessary to launch your online business and test its viability. Once your business is successful, you should definitely plan on expanding and fine-tuning your website on an ongoing basis. The biggest benefits of using a turnkey solution to design, launch, and manage your website are:

Before you start creating your website, whether it's from scratch or by customizing a template, spend time surfing the web looking for other sites that you consider to be top-quality and well-designed, and that you'd like to emulate. Determine in advance what features and functionality you want as well as what design elements you'd like to incorporate into your site. Knowing your immediate needs and what your needs might be in the future helps you choose a turnkey solution that's best suited to your business venture.

Every online business has different needs based on what's being sold, to whom the products/services are being sold, and what features and functionality need to be incorporated into the site. Once you pinpoint what you want and need, finding a complete turnkey solution that meets your requirements at a price you can afford is relatively straightforward.

As you look at what each turnkey solution offers, don't just look at a list of features and make your decision. Visit several websites that currently use the services of the company you're thinking about working with, and invest time exploring those websites. Your own site will be customized, of course, but do the sites you're looking at offer the professional look, functionality, and user interface that could work well for your business model and image?

Will you be able to easily customize the templates to create a site you're proud of and meets your needs?

Ultimately, choosing the best turnkey solution could mean the difference between success and failure. In addition to comparing the startup costs and ongoing monthly fees associated with each of these services, some of the things you'll also want to evaluate before choosing a specific solution include:

Here are some turnkey ecommerce solutions to consider:

eBay ProStores
Service provider: eBay.com
Phone number: (866) 747-3229
Website: prostores.com
Turnkey solution pricing: $6.95 to $249.95 per month plus additional fees

GoDaddy.com's WebSite Tonight and Quick Shopping Cart
Service provider: GoDaddy
Website: godaddy.com
Turnkey solution pricing: $9.99 to $49.99 per month plus additional fees

OSCommerce
Service provider:
OSCommerce
Website: oscommerce.com
Turnkey solution pricing: Free (site hosting not included)

Yahoo! Stores
(Yahoo! Small Business Solutions)
Service provider: Yahoo!
Phone number: (866) 781-9246
Website: smallbusiness.yahoo.com/ecommerce/
Turnkey solution pricing: $39.95 to $299.95 per month (plus additional fees)

Jason R. Rich, author of Design and Launch an Online Web Design Business in a Week and Design and Launch an E-Commerce Business in a Week, is the bestselling author of more than 37 books covering a wide range of topics, including computers, e-commerce, personal finance, career-related topics, and travel and entertainment. He also contributes regularly to major daily newspapers, including the New York Daily News, as well as national magazines and popular websites.