Setting up a web site can be an overwhelming effort for a small business. As a home entertainment integrator, creating a destination where your customers can find you on the web and learn about your business is a must. A web site can give your business credibility and help you differentiate your business from your local competition through install portfolios and customer testimonials.

Historically, building out a web presence required hosting, coding, design, marketing and content production expertise. I know this all too well from personal experience. Over the years, I have helped my parents create and manage several iterations their high-end remodeling business web site.

Recently the Internet service provider (ISP) that was hosting their site decided to close up shop and so we were forced to find a new home for the site. While I was impressed that the site had made it eight years with almost no disasters, it was built in what is considered today dated technology. My choices were to upgrade their site to the latest and greatest web technologies (which I didn't have time for) or find something a bit simpler for everyone. And it exists… Finally, a web hosting solution that's so easy even my mom can literally do it!

Microsoft Office Live Small Business significantly reduces the effort required get your business online. They not only provide hosting and domain registration services, but also have a set of easy to use tools that allow you to quickly create great pages, site navigation and email addresses. If you don't want to hire a designer, there are several themes you can choose from that allow you to customize the site look and feel of your Web site to meet your specific needs. There really are too many features to go through in detail, but here some of the best features:

Easy site building tools – If you can use Microsoft Word, you can do this.

 

Themed or custom look and feel – Apply one of several themes and styles to your site easily or hire a pro to do something more custom.

 

Site traffic reporting – Get detailed reporting and analytics on your Web site traffic.

 

 

Page Templates – Choose from a set of standard templates or create and save your own.

 

Reusable Web Modules – Add advanced components into any number of your pages to provide additional capabilities on your site.

 

Image Gallery – Easy to upload and manage all the images for your site.

 

 

Slide Show Module – Select a set of photos for a slide show featuring your best work.

 

Live Spaces Blog Module - You can even add a module that allows you to pull in content from a blog on Live Spaces. This is an excellent way to add dynamic content to your site like news or press releases without having to republish entire pages.

 

These are just some of the things you can do with this great toolset, but I suspect you are waiting for a catch. There is no catch. The features and hosting I described above are free. If you want a custom domain for your Web site, it is free for the first year, and $14.95 for each year following...There are additional pay-per-use features you can add to your account (such as E-Mail Marketing, eCommerce, and search advertising), however the basic Web site tools are all provided free of cost by Microsoft.

Go to Office Live Small Business for product information, pricing and to get started. Here are a couple of good video overviews if you aren't completely sold yet: