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Savvy Shopping Key to Choosing Web Design, Web Hosting Tool

Recently a person or persons unknown hacked into the website of a fairly large community bank and quickly accomplished what Internet villains love to do: embarrass the website owner. These particular scoundrels entered inappropriate language throughout the bank's website.
One of the bank directors was the first to notice the defacement. He contacted the bank president, who immediately contacted the consultant responsible for the design and maintenance of the bank's Internet site. Unfortunately resolving this situation took nearly 24 embarrassing hours and was costly for the bank's operation, as well as its reputation.
Risks and costs like these are the reasons many community banks have been reluctant to establish websites. In fact nearly half the customers of a national provider of community bank technologies do not have an Internet presence. When asked why, they listed the high risk of fraud and the high cost associated with the creation, maintenance and hosting of a site.
Those statistics are expected to change dramatically, now that products are available that roll website design and secure Web hosting into one secure, cost-effective package.
Until recently there were few options for community banks that wanted a presence on the Web. Banks either had to work with an outside consultant who charged thousands of dollars to build the site and hourly fees to keep it current, or pay salary and benefits for an in-house technology guru. They also had to contract with an Internet service provider to host the site.
Today there are website design tools so simple and easy to use that bankers with little or no technical knowledge can quickly design and publish professional sites. After the website is established, they can easily change content, graphics and templates, then preview the changes before going live. Some products feature stylish graphics and eye-catching templates for page design.
The process of building a website begins with a wizard that is used to select colors from an electronic color palette. The user then browses through several professionally designed templates to choose a look for the bank's home page. Easy-to-use forms collect the information needed to set up and maintain pages for branch locations, rates, automated teller machine locations, Internet banking links, contact information, products, etc. Some products include a library of duty-free images, and may include custom graphic design services for an hourly fee.
A word of caution: Although many products include Web hosting, community banks are best served by a product that provides multiple layers of security, 24/7 monitoring; nightly backup and remote storage of files; and support from skilled network, server and security professionals. Bank examiners expect to find this level of security.
Fortunately technology is now available that enables community banks to create professional-looking websites in-house using a product that bundles website design and secure Web hosting into an easily managed, affordable package. All it takes is some careful shopping.