Deciding if your business needs a web presence is the easy question, the harder question is why?
Should it be a way of finding new customers or a way of providing information to already primed customers? Should a website be a shop, a showcase or an advertising hoarding? Of course a website can be all of these things but what should be its focus?
Social media has replaced many functions business websites used to offer. News, information about new products, and communicating directly with customers are almost exclusively handled by services such as Facebook and Twitter for small businesses. Social media also offers a wide and diverse advertising reach and other services offer shops and sales portals for products and services. It could be argued that a small business can function completely without the need for a dedicated website, in fact many small businesses do.
So in this day and age why should you have a dedicated website at all?
The best way to think of it is as a focal point, recognition, authority and most importantly a fixed trusted location for your customers to learn about your products and services where they can be presented as more than marketing sound bites.
Once you have decided what your site should do for your business the next thing to consider is to decide on its size and functionality.
The size of your site should reflect the amount of information you wish to impart but not be too complex and wordy. It’s more important to have the text of your site change regularly than to have reams of pages. At one time the size of websites had an effect on visibility in search engines but now search results are tailored to the preferences of the searcher. Promoting your website and optimising it for search engines is a subject for a future article.
The last hurdle you may encounter when deciding if you need a website is the perceived difficulty or cost of setting one up. Much has changed in the last few years, the expensive alchemy of website building by a select few is history, now there are a myriad of affordable and even free options to do it yourself.
Many platforms exist that make it easy to produce professional looking results. If you don’t have the time for that, the same platforms make it easy to employ someone to build a site for you at a fraction of the cost of professional web design from scratch. The simplicity of modern website platforms also means that it’s easy with some simple instruction or personal research to learn how to build and maintain your website content and make it work for you.
In my next post at the end of May I will be going through a basic step by step process of setting up a simple website on WordPress, one of the most commonly used platforms. Of course if you have decided you want a website and you can’t wait that long we can build a site for you or coach you to build your own site now. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a no obligation chat.
Matt is a director of Quicklearn and professional photographer. He is responsible for all our website needs. He builds and maintains simple, cost effective websites for many of our clients as well as providing personalised business images through our sister company MiStock.