Build a Slick Business Website for Free (No Experience Required)

Last Updated Aug 17, 2011 4:37 PM EDT

No business is complete without a website, especially if it's a startup. But what business owner has the time, resources, or expertise to build an attractive, functional, comprehensive site from scratch? (It's a rhetorical question; no business owner on the planet has all those things.)

IM Creator builds polished, professional business websites. Actually, you do the building; it merely supplies the tools. And they're some of the easiest, most effective tools I've seen.

You start by selecting a template. IM Creator offers a few dozen very attractive choices, all of them divided based on profession or business: artist, designer, consultant, real estate, law, and so on. There's also a batch of bio/resume templates in case you're just looking to promote your personal brand.

After you select a template (and register for an IM Creator account, which is quick and easy), you replace the boilerplate text and stock images with your own. These tasks are equally quick and easy, thanks mostly to simple, straightforward browser-based tools.

Indeed, let's say you own a restaurant. Assuming you have the text and photos you want all ready to paste and upload, you could build a really slick-looking three-page site (Home, Gallery, and Menu, for example) in less than an hour. Easily.


There's no charge to use IM Creator. It's also free to publish your site to Facebook, WordPress, or a custom IM URL. If you want your site to appear on your own domain or a new one, IM Creator charges $7.95 monthly (or $71.40 annually) -- a price that includes unlimited bandwidth and templates, plus 10 email accounts. Given what most services charge just for hosting, those are extremely reasonable rates.

I can see where a business might outgrow IM Creator, especially one that needs shopping-cart capabilities. (Update: the service does indeed offer a shopping cart option.) For a startup or small business that needs a simple, professional-looking Web presence, IM Creator is definitely a good place to start.

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    Rick Broida, a technology writer for more than 20 years, is the author of more than a dozen books. In addition to writing CNET's The Cheapskate blog, he contributes to CNET's iPhone Atlas.

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