Allison Thurman didn't know what to expect when she walked into a website workshop billed as a totally free event in Schaumburg.
She came armed with a list of questions. Turns out, she got her answers, and even received advice on how to update and improve the website for her business, Art By Allison in Batavia.
"They were very patient and very accommodating," said Thurman, an interior decorator and artist. "I'm glad I came."
Google held the workshop, "Get Your Business Online" for roughly 200 business owners and executives in Schaumburg so they could get free websites design help customized to fit their companies. Participants also walked away with a real, functioning website, hosting for a year, and free tools and resources.
What's the catch? After that first year, the business will be asked to pay $4.99 a month for hosting their website. And their business information will be used to enhance Google's search engine, making it easier to find the company online.
Whether that's a deal will depend on the executive and where they're heading with business online.
Google said it has so far helped about 100,000 businesses get online since last year, when it started the program. That web presence helps the business become more readily available to consumers or other businesses seeking their products and services, said Google spokesman Rob Biederman.
"The more information we can provide about a company, the more we can provide to consumers and that shows up in our search results," Biederman said.
While Google owns Motorola Mobility in Libertyville, this Schaumburg event was unrelated to Motorola, Biederman said.
The event also featured one-on-one meetings with business people so they could customize their website to their business needs. The event has been held in various cities nationwide since last year. Before it came to Schaumburg, it was held in Springfield.
Besides Google, partners include the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, World Business Chicago, Intuit, Score and others to offer the event.
"They all learn how to build and create websites on the spot," Biederman said. "We found that 58 percent of small businesses in Illinois are not even online yet."
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• Lisle-based Molex Inc. has launched a new app that gives tablet users access to information on about Molex products. Designed for Apple and Android devices, the Molex App allows tablet users to view product information, search products, view literature and view videos without being online. This would be focused on a business-to-business user who needs Molex products. Design engineers vs. a company owner, although it could be an owner.
• Follow Anna Marie Kukec on LinkedIn and Facebook and as AMKukec on Twitter. Write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.