How important is a Web site to a company’s success?

“I think it is really important to have a good online presence. It is like any other first impression. People are going to judge you on your site,” said LA-based freelance-graphic-designer Bodhi Oser.

Oser has been designing sites for 15 years. He said that when designing your own site keep in mind that people do not respond to blocks of text. He also said the best way to find the right graphic designer is to e-mail a Web site that appeals to you and ask to be connected to the designer.

Whether you turn to a company that provides templates to build a site or a graphic designer who may spend more time devoted to your specific needs, one thing is for sure -- in this economy getting online is a crucial move for your business.

Oser designed a site for the retail-store designer firm Verdego. He said the firm is made up of only two women, so the site levels the professional playing field for them.

“They are able to compete with firms much larger than theirs. They've been very busy through the recession,” Oser said.

Intuit.com is one company that will create and build a site for you, or assist you in building your own. The company serves over 200,000 customers and caters to new and established businesses. It will completely run your site for a one-time $300 fee and a $100-a-month payment. Or, you can use one of the site-building tools to do it yourself and then keep it up for $5 a month.

Sally Hilles, owner of Hazelnut hill, used Intuit to create a Web site for her 225-acre Hazelnut farm. Hilles’ package costs $700 a year. She said there are various templates that allow her to update the site herself, so she doesn’t need to know how to use HTML.

“I am really satisfied with them,” said Hilles. “It gives me the peace of mind that [Intuit] is updating the security and added features so I have access to them all the time.”

About five years ago Randall Pruit, 48, manager of Hugo Lake State Park, took his business online and he said it has indeed paid. 

“I’ve seen an increase in business by 20-30%,” said Pruit.

GoDaddy.com is another site helping small business owners gain online attention.

GoDaddy offers a range of products for customers to create sites and purchase domain names. Domain names costs $9.99, but if you buy one of the packages offered the cost is reduced to $1.99.

“Small businesses need logos, taglines … and this is part of our Dream Design Team,” said Wayne Oleksak, vice president of site building services at GoDaddy.com. “[GoDaddy] offers brand identity products as well. We also [offer] search engine optimization, because customers need to get noticed on the Web as well as putting up a presence.”

Co-owner of The Cup and Saucer Cookie Company Jackie McAllister used GoDaddy to create her site. She said it took just three days and her cookie business was up and running online.

“My experience with GoDaddy was great because I didn’t even know what I was trying to purchase from them. I called their customer service line and the guy refunded me for what I bought piece by piece,” said McAlister. “What I ended up with was a package where they build the Web site and the domain name was included.”