Last updated: February 19. 2013 10:10PM - 840 Views

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DALLAS – Earth and Wears owner Lyn Carey says she could not afford to pay a professional to design a website for her small business. But thanks to students in a Wilkes University class, hers and other businesses now have websites to call their own.

Wilkes professor Sara Pisarchick's Principles of Interactivity class required students to work with a local business this month and create, design and get up and running a website for that business. The websites all went live Friday, including Earth and Wears.

For Carey, the savings of thousands of dollars is a blessing, and the outcome is a big benefit. For the students who launched her site, including Chelsea Fufaro, 20, of Dallas, the work was hard but rewarding and educational.

Fufaro, an integrative media major in her junior year, said helping a small business is something she's glad she could do, but as a customer of the store and a friend of Carey's daughter, she said it's even more meaningful.

It's been a big challenge, said Fufaro, who designed the site earthandwears.com with classmates Ryan Wood and Andrew Lynch in less than two week.

Each of the three talked to Carey, got a feel for her business and what she wanted the site to include and then created their own site. They then showed Carey their designs and she chose the best of each students' work and the students worked together to deliver the final product.

They've been incredible, Carey said. What they were able to accomplish was amazing.

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She said for a small business, websites are important ways to get the word out about hours, sales, contact information and more. She's relied on a free Facebook page for her business but says the new website will be much more informative and attractive.

Even if I knew how (to design a website), I wouldn't have the minutes to do it, Carey laughed.

Fufaro said that the class has given her a peak into how websites look the way they do and given her a new appreciation of what goes in to those sites she clicks on while web surfing.

You don't know what's behind it until you try figuring it out. Now I look at them and I don't take them for granted, she said.

Other businesses that had websites created by students include Lakeway Beverage in Lehman Township, The Straub Agency Inc. insurance office, in Wyoming and Coqui Del Mar, an eco friendly guest house in Ocean Park, Puerto Rico.

Josh Kaschenbach, owner of Lakeway Beverage, said he had a website that he paid a friend $100 to create four years ago. He said he couldn't afford to pay the thousands of dollars it would take for a new, modernized site, but then the students came knocking on his door with an offer he couldn't refuse.

I think it's fantastic, he said of the new Lakewaybeverage.com. He said the new site compared to the old one is pretty drastic, I like it a lot.

Greg Thomas, one of the students who worked on Lakeway's website, said the project was challenging and a lot more work than I anticipated but at the end of the day he's elated it's done and that it helped a small business.

The fact it's helping out a local business feel good, Thomas, of Towanda, said. We're really thrilled (Kaschenbach) likes it.

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