Does Your Business Actually Need A Website?
A lot of companies will assume that by just having a website, they will see an increase in business – and although this may be the case for some businesses – it may not be true for yours. In fact, a recent article suggests that a bad website could actually harm your business.
It is important to realise that having a website is not necessarily going to suddenly make your company a global success, rivalling even the mighty Google. It could, but it will take a lot of hard work.
So let’s take a reality check and try to work out what a website will do for your organisation and what it won’t do.
Benefits of having a website
1. Allow people to find you
There may be people who are already looking for you online. They may be existing clients, they may be people who have been recommended by friends, and by simply having a website, you are helping them to find you. Gone are the days when people would pick up the Yellow Pages, I’m afraid
2. New ways for people to contact you
Leaflets and adverts are great, but it’s really easy to misplace contact information when you actually need it. A lot of people will visit a website to find out how to contact you. You could also interact with people on your website itself using forums, discussion groups or even by plugging into social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.
3. Answer common questions
A website can be useful in answering frequently asked questions – especially if you find yourself answering the same queries all the time, either by email or phone. This saves you time, and yet means that you are still being useful.
Obviously though, you don't want to stop people from contacting you altogether, so finding a good balance is important. Answer questions that will lead people to contact you. A useful site will automatically find itself ranking higher in Google.
Some websites deliberately hide their prices, in an effort to force their customers to contact them. While this practice may work, it may also backfire in frustrating the customer or making them suspicious. The absence of obvious pricing leads to mistrust.
4. Selling your products or services online
Your may wish to sell products and services directly through your website - i.e. eCommerce. Most businesses will see this as the primary purpose of their website and with good reason. Traditional High Street stores are increasingly feeling the affect of online sales.
The key with online shopping isn't just price though. Convenience is often as much of a factor, especially for your existing customers.
If you can show the same high level of service that you provide in person, word will spread. An online retailer that can be trusted is far better than one offering suspiciously low prices.
Getting your online shop noticed can be tricky, especially in competitive markets. Submission into Google Product Search can be one way of getting your website noticed, but pick your prices wisely and make sure you do your research.
5. Keep your customers informed
One of the great thing about a website is that the information can be updated. That is probably the biggest advantage over traditional printed media.
Although websites may never replace printed media completely, using the two in conjunction can reduce printing costs and make sure that people constantly have the most up to date information - by pointing them to your website for a bigger range of deals, discounts or more information.
Common misconceptions about having a website
1. It will increase sales
Although that is so often the aim of a business website, there is no guarantee – at least not directly. As it has always been, the best form of advertising is still word of mouth. If your website provides good service and adds to your company’s the over-all reputation, then sales are almost certainly going to improve. However, the presence of a website alone, will probably not draw people in.
So, although a website is not a magic wand that will make a struggling business thrive, a mult-media approach focussing on customer service, combining traditional advertising techniques with new media will certainly lead to an increase in sales.
2. It will make us look trendy
Gone are the days when simply having a website was enough to be trendy. In fact recent studies suggest that a badly designed website could actually harm your company.
It’s not just the appearance of the website that is important – there are plenty of websites which look nice – but are totally unusable because they weren’t designed with the customer in mind. If your customers can’t find what they are looking for, they will simply get frustrated and go elsewhere.
3. Out of date
Once you have set up your website, it is important to keep it up to date. Research shows that customers find out of date websites to be both offputting and frustrating. It is not enough to simply have a website – it must also be current and relevant.
Beyond that though, regular updates like news and blogs can actually be beneficial to your website's search rankings. This is largely because more recently updated websites are seen as more relevant than older ones. (What is SEO?)
So, does your business actually need a website?
The purpose of this article has been to help you to consider whether a website is your best option at this moment in time and whether you are being realistic in what you are expecting it to do.
Obviously, as a web development agency, we believe that most businesses will benefit from having a website - but will tell you if we believe otherwise.
If you are realistic about what a website will do for your business, and are aware that a good website is constantly in need of maintenance (ideally from within your organisation) then you will certainly benefit from having a website.
If you would like more information about the topics discussed in this article, or are interested in setting up a new website please give us a call on 07817 851856 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.