Web Site Story

Article excerpt

Think Web sites are expensive luxuries only big banks can afford? Think again!

R.A. "Bobby" Pritchett, the chairman, president and CEO of Planters Bank & Trust Co disagrees. His bank in west-central Alabama has 11 employees, $14 million in assets and a great Web site that didn't cost a fortune (http://www.planters bank.com/). How did he do it?

About a year ago, Pritchett decided to use the Internet to let people know about his bank, the only bank in Thomaston, Ala., (population about 500) and to make it easier for his customers to communicate with him. The first step Pritchett took was to get ideas about what information to include on his site. To do this, he surfed the Internet, gleaning ideas from other banks' Web sites. He also read articles about the Web in Independent Banker and other magazines.

Then, using Microsoft Corp.'s FrontPage software, Pritchett gradually designed his bank's Web site in less than four weeks, working a couple of hours at a time. (The Web site creating software doesn't require users to know programming code.)

Development is never complete when it comes to Web sites, though. Continual improvements are a part of the process. Pritchett says he's enhanced the bank's Web site over time, occasionally adding new features, such as information on his new branch in Linden, a five-color map of Alabama and color pictures of the bank's officers. Security is not an issue for Pritchett because his site doesn't handle transactions, a feature he says he plans to add in the future.

How much did all these features cost? By designing the site himself, shopping around for the best deal on Internet hosting fees and using free e-mail services from Juno (http://www. …