Small-business owners who want to sell products on the Web should take a serious look at Homestead, a pricey but beginner-friendly Web host that provides a series of simple yet powerful Web-building tools. With the help of Homestead's WYSIWYG editor and StoreFront shopping engine, even those with little Web-building experience can set up their own online stores in a matter of hours. That said, Homestead's services don't come cheap (you'll pay $10 to $130 per month, with no free accounts), and experienced coders who use Macs or their own FTP/HTML tools will find themselves high and dry. For them, either Yahoo's or EarthLink's Web hosting service remains the better bet.
Setting up Homestead is simple. First, choose whether you want to use one of the for-pay QuickSite templates or design your own site from scratch. If you opt for the template, you can browse a 76-page catalog of thumbnailed, subcategorized template pages until you find the one you want. The more than 600 templates run the gamut from real-estate listings and restaurant menus to personal and hobby pages. The templates aren't cheap, though: you'll pay $50 to a whopping $300 each, depending on the template's complexity. If you'd rather build your own site from scratch (or DIY, in Homestead parlance), you jump directly to the personal-info and payment page. If you're not sure about committing to Homestead, the company offers a seven-day free trial of its services. Once your account is set up, you arrive at the main page, where you can view your new site, access your account info and settings, check your site traffic, or launch one of Homestead's two building tools: the easy-to-use fill-in-the-blanks QuickSite Editor or the WYSIWYG QuickSite Builder.
|DIY Silver||DIY Gold||DIY Platinum||StoreFront Standard|
|Domain registration included||No||1||3||1|
|POP e-mail accounts||0||1||8||1|
|Data transfer per month||15GB||15GB||15GB||15GB|
|Phone and e-mail support||30 days free phone, then $10 a call or $5 a month; e-mail||30 days free phone, then $10 a call or $5 a month; e-mail||30 days free phone, then $10 a call or $5 a month; e-mail||30 days free phone, then $10 a call or $5 a month; e-mail|