Decide Whether a Turnkey Solution Is Right for You
BY Delilah Obie
Claims of implementing a complete Web site in 10 to 15 minutes may be exaggerated, but turnkey Web building solutions do offer a quick and affordable means of taking your business online. In this case, the turnkey provider builds your site for you, so you don't have to learn the technology yourself. But before you decide to use a turnkey solution, identify your Web site requirements and business objectives, then closely consider the various features and costs to determine whether a turnkey solution will meet your needs.
Evaluate the Level of Technical Assistance You Need If you have the know-how or resources to build your basic site yourself, you may be able to find a Web host that can provide any additional Web site components you may need. Shopping cart scripts, chat and discussion forum functions, and even merchant accounts are often available from a Web host. Determine whether you need complete Web site building capability, so you can identify whether to go with a turnkey solution for your entire Web site or build the core of your site and then add components from a Web host.
Determine the level of technical expertise necessary to set up and maintain a storefront using a turnkey solution, and consider whether you and your staff have the skills to design and implement an e-commerce Web site using various turnkey components or whether you need a full turnkey solution.
Decide Whether You Need a Distinctive Design Web sites that require unique design features or precise color combinations may not work well with a turnkey solution. Most turnkey solutions provide a series of page templates and a number of color choices but don't allow for any deviation from these set formats.
Decide How Much Time You Have to Get Your Site Up and Running One obvious advantage that turnkey solutions offer is rapid deployment. The claims about creating a Web site in minutes don't take into consideration the hours you'll spend defining site requirements and developing graphics and other content, but in comparison to working with consultants or design firms, the process can be extremely quick, and a site can be built and operational in a few weeks or less.
Evaluate Your Future Site Needs Consider how soon you may want to expand your site or enhance its capabilities. Make sure a turnkey solution offers you room to grow in the immediate future. For example, if you're not ready to begin taking orders and processing payments over the Internet but you do need a Web presence to promote your business, find a turnkey solution that lets you build an attractive brochure-style site now, complete with product pictures and descriptions, and add e-commerce functionality later.
Determine How Much Time You Have to Maintain Your Web Site Your site will require continual updates and changes. Products will need to be added or deleted, pricing will change, you may offer a seasonal or limited-time special, and so on. Most turnkey solutions offer easy access to your site content and the option to have your updates appear almost immediately, but this process will still require time and effort on your part. In most cases, changes are made in the same way you originally created your Web pages -- through your browser and the host Web site. When you create an account, you'll receive a user name and password to access your files and make any necessary changes from any computer with an Internet connection. Maintenance issues could be a deciding factor in choosing between using a turnkey solution and hiring an outside consulting firm.