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I need a brochure website – where do I go?
Emma Jones

Having asked a question in the Enterprise Nation forum on the best package to create a brochure website, Steven and Zoe from Cosy Cottage received a mixed response. Some suggested off the shelf packages - others warned against - and advised the business couple to turn to professional designers. Emma Jones looks at the pros and cons and offers links to the packages on offer.  

Kick-start question

This was the question that started a chain of responses:

“We are currently setting up our home business and sourcing products to sell via a website. We will be selling home accessories, gifts and seasonal products.

We have had some quotes for websites of which are out of our price range, we want the website to act as a brochure for our products then to sell using Paypal or something similar.
Does anybody know of or has used a product we can buy to create our own website to get a professional finish.

Many Thanks,
Steven and Zoe”

In response

The responses started well. Mike from Mike’s Computers was the first on hand to help and did so by suggesting that Steven and Zoe check out

So far, so good.

Friend of the forum, Emily Coltman was next to step in but with a warning. ‘Beware of template websites’ she wrote ‘they have a nasty habit of looking like they came out of a box and can spoil the individuality of your business.’

Point well made.

At this point, Steven and Zoe may have started to wonder which way to turn. So let’s try to offer some clarity.

Box-set versus Pro-designer

In the 20 odd responses to Steven and Zoe’s original question, it was about 50/50 in terms of who suggested a package versus professional designer. The main points were:

  • Buying a website package means having to build the site yourself. This can take technical know-how and pressure to keep up to date with changing technologies so your site stays up to date
  • Turning to a professional designer will cost you more but think about the time saved and the fact you’re outsourcing what could be a key element of your business to an expert.

Package options

What also became clear is there are a number of packages on the market. If you do decide on the DIY route, here are the ones mentioned:

Oscommerce - an Open Source online shop e-commerce solution that allows store owners to setup, run, and maintain online stores with minimum effort and no costs or fees.

Wordpress - with an ecommerce plugin. Comes complete with a tutorial on Youtube on how to set up your store in less than 5 minutes.    

Cube cart – e-commerce shopping cart used by >1 million store owners. - uses wizards to set up your site and ‘for a starter website, it's been pretty good’ - a hosted system (you don't need your own hosting for the website although you will for email) that can link in a number of payment options (PayPal etc.) and the admin section of the site allows you to easily manage all your orders.

Trading Eye – a highly featured ecommerce package which costs in the region of £350 + VAT (a one off cost) which comes with a simple template design.

So, there you have it! Plenty of e-commerce packages on the market. My only question now is which one will Steve and Zoe choose? I’ll ask them and cover it in a future column!

Emma Jones is Founder of Enterprise Nation, the home business website, and author of ‘Spare Room Start Up – how to start a business from home’ 





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