AFTER the Wimmera’s January fires, Horsham website developer Jon Fitzgerald did something millions of people worldwide would have done. He Googled Halls Gap.
The first results were from news services about the fires.
But what, he thought to himself, would a search engine show people curious about the town’s industries and attractions, once the fires died down?
How would small businesses entice tourists back?
“A lot of people go straight to Google when they’re looking for something,” Mr Fitzgerald said.
“When you type in Halls Gap, you don’t get a lot of listings from businesses in the area.”
He wants to see the first few pages of search results filled with sites about small businesses, based in fire-affected communities.
“We thought it would be a good start to help people see what there is to do in those areas,” he said.
“You can imagine all the people who would be searching for Halls Gap.”
Mr Fitzgerald’s business 48 Hour Websites is waiving its customary $499 set-up fee for Wimmera businesses directly affected by bushfires.
“We will set up a basic, three-page website with a home page, an about page and a contact page,” he said.
Mr Fitzgerald said the service would be free for 12 months.
“If people want to keep their page after that, there is a renewal fee,” he said. The idea was the brainchild of the business’s new marketing manager, Linda Harding.
“Originally, we were just going to call a few people in Halls Gap and see if we could help,” Mr Fitzgerald said.
He said Halls Gap business owners were excited by the initiative.
“We’ve had a couple of people call us because they heard it from others,” he said.
“We’re also going to help Old Dadswell Town update their site.”
Since Mr Fitzgerald started 48 Hour Websites early last year, he has created websites for Norton Estate Wines and the Western Victorian Careers Expo.
He has also hired two staff.
Fellow website developer Steve Eltze is the third member of the 48 Hour Websites team.
The business is based in the Wimmera Business Centre in Horsham.
“We aim to get small businesses online and engaged in the web revolution with high-value, low-cost and hassle-free websites,” Mr Fitzgerald said.
Customers spend 10 minutes completing a form about their business, either online or over the phone.
Mr Fitzgerald and his team use the information and pictures supplied to create a website.
As its name suggests, the business aims to get clients online within 48 hours.
Mr Fitzgerald encouraged Wimmera businesses directly affected by the bushfires to call 5382 7538 or fill out the 48 Hour Websites online form at 48hourwebsites.com.au to find out more about the offer.