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WHAT IS THE EPITOME?
The Epitome is a provider of professional looking, prefabricated, non-exclusive e-commerce enabled showcases to small businesses, helping them level the playing field with large competitors at a small price. These turnkey database-driven ecommerce showcases are complete, navigable web sites, lacking only your product images and descriptions. The Epitome offers you the ability to skip over the numerous monthly fees associated with online credit card payment by using one or both of the payment service providers we have chosen to work with, 2CheckOut and PayPal. Both are "third party" payment service providers, which do not require you to have a costly merchant account with a bank. The Epitome is focussed on the novice web site owner and the lowest costs possible. See the How-To Guide.

The Epitome sites offer an alternative to a cheesy-looking web site from a low-cost vendor. The list of design mistakes found in such sites include: uncontrolled text page widths, the use of "rules" for topic separation, centering all text, too large of a font size (as in a child's reader), visible hit counters, cartoon clip art (not for serious business!), blinking text, busy backgrounds making it difficult to read the page and hard edged photos placed on the page without integrating them into the design (see Bad Example 1). The result of these amateurish design practices is a cheesy-looking web site, like the one in Bad Example 2. Would you trust your credit card to a business with such a site? Visit our Showroom and imagine how your "front door to the world" might look with a prefabricated design from The Epitome.

In addition to low-cost e-commerce showcases, we will be offering blog designs, bank and credit union designs and wine industry designs, however they will be higher in price.

HOW DOES THE EPITOME DIFFER FROM TEMPLATE SELLERS?
The Epitome prefabricated web site designs are completely linked, navigable and e-commerce enabled, all without your needing to have skills and expensive software tools. Most template sellers require you to possess Photoshop (at almost seven hundred dollars) and an expensive wysiwyg editor (three to four hundred dollars) in order to complete the menu items graphics, program the links for the menu items and place your text. This is without mentioning the high learning curve associated with Photoshop and the costs involved with the e-commerce system you will need to add. Too, many of these templates are quite plain and do not draw interest. With a The Epitome site, expensive tools and skills aren't necessary. The templates are only that -- just templates. They are not linked, not programmed, not e-commerce ready, nor database driven, leaving you do figure that out and pay for it.

Summing it up, The Epitome sites don't require expensive software or skills, as they are graphic-rich enough to generate plenty of viewer interest, are e-commerce enabled, and are professional looking enough to lend credibility to your business and inspire the trust of your visitors.

SERVICES NOT OFFERED
The Epitome is a design service ONLY, not a full-featured web consulting firm, one reason for the very low cost. The addition of your product images and descriptions is not included in the design service we offer, nor are site updates. We will, however, put your company name and slogan on the header graphic that appears on each page. Too, we will replace "Company Name" with your company name in the page title areas and will also change the generic email links to yours, so all that is needed are your product images and descriptions. Below, in "Things You Will Be Able to Do Yourself", find out how you can easily digitize, size and upload your images to an administration panel and type in your product descriptions. Placement is automatic.

You need to know, too, that if you already have a logo that you want to use, you must make outside arragements to have it applied. A header graphic without a company name can be provided to you upon request, however, you will need professional help, as the header graphic without a company name will only come in native Photoshop file format and must be saved in Photoshop's ImageReady to have a small enough file size to download fast enough for the internet. (A .jpg image will not be offered, as it will degrade considerably with an additional file save. A .gif image will not be offered, as the file size is much too large to download fast enough for the internet, without additional expensive tools.)

Finally, The Epitome designs are offered on a non-exclusive basis. With 30,000,000 web sites on the internet, the chances of your customers ever coming across another site also using your design are low, so why pay more in the unlikely event they do?

To avoid any disappointments, it is imperative that you understand what is not being offered, as these limitations are the reason the price can be so low. Despite the limitations, The Epitome has a lot to offer to a lot of people who want to get out there with their products as inexpensively as they possibly can!

THINGS YOU WILL BE ABLE TO DO YOURSELF
Instruction on use of the installed database-driven shopping cart can be gained from the shopping cart developer's web site. As the cart is already installed, just skip the installation instructions and go right to the documentation to find out how very simple it is to upload your product photos with a click and to type in your product descriptions with the use of an administration panel. The administration panel will take your photos and descriptions and automatically place them for you. There is nothing for you to figure out. See the How-To Guide.

Regarding product photos, you will need two sizes of your digitized product images -- a small image for the shopping cart and a larger one that pops up when the smaller image is clicked. Digitizing is easy, even without a digital camera. Simply have your roll of film developed in digital format, rather than having prints made. Your digital images will come back on a disk and cost only five dollars from major drug store chains and grocery stores. Sizing the digital images can be done online, using the easy image editing features of a free membership in an online photo gallery web site. See the How-To Guide.

Regarding credit card payment systems, you can sign up with one or both of the payments service providers we have chosen to work with. Please see the web sites of PayPal and 2CheckOut to learn more. Regarding a web host, please see the Resources page for help in choosing a low cost one that offers the administration tool, CPanel. CPanel makes it easy for a novice to run a web site.

HOW DOES THE EPITOME DO IT?
The way The Epitome does it is by offering designs on a non-exclusive basis, reducing the cost of web design exponentially. As well as offering non-exclusive designs, being a design-only firm vastly reduces costs. That is how The Epitome does it.

MORE QUESTIONS? . . .
Please see Frequently Asked Questions.

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