As a professional web designer and developer, the question I am most often asked is whether or not
you need a website. Before I can truly answer this, we need to dive back into the toddler years of the
Back when I took my first baby steps into the world of web design (circa 1998, eons ago by modern
technology standards), the internet was still a blossoming entity that we were all adjusting to and
learning how to harness it’s potential. Google was still in it’s beta test phase, we still actively used our
local phone books and 411 to find phone numbers, smart phones were something you saw only in
science fiction movies, and the future of e-commerce was still anyone’s guess, though even the most
skeptical futurists agreed that all signs pointed to global marketplace and that a large portion of
business would, one day, be conducted online. Guess what? They were right!
Back to the original question, do you need a website? My answer today is the same as it was 14 years
ago…absolutely. No questions asked, yes…you should have a website.
You have to remember, your website isn’t just a website…it is a multifaceted asset of your company. It
acts as your off hours customer service center, providing answers to product related questions. It’s
your 24 hour a day, 7 day a week sales team, selling products to the global market, or helping them
decide what to purchase before heading down to the local brick and mortar store. It’s an extension of
your marketing team, offering a convenient place do display your service advertisements and product
brochures for the world to see, all with the luxury of having to not send media out to print. It’s your
public relations department, informing customers of upcoming events, or the new “have to have” toy
of the year. Your website is what you make of it. It does what you want it to, it targets the preferred
demographic that you’re reaching out to. I could go on for hours, but I’m sure you get the point.
With all of that in mind, it’s important to remember that it’s not enough to just have a website, you
have to have a professional looking website if you wish to be taken seriously. More and more online
shoppers search for information prior to making any purchases, be it a product or a service, so this
may be your chance to make a first impression on a customer or client. Studies show that you that
you have roughly 10 seconds to capture a visitor’s attention, so if your website looks like an army of
colorblind chimps made it, you’ve all but lost your chance at a first impression. The visitor moves on,
and you have potentially failed to convert a sales lead. Let’s put it this way, you’re searching online for
a landscaper and come across John Doe Lawn Care, Inc. He has a very easy to navigate, informational,
and professional looking website. Then you come across Joe Schmoe Landscapers. His site has no
rhyme or reason, no uniformity, it looks like a toddler’s room after a hardy day of playtime – pictures
and information are scattered and you cannot find anything that you are looking for. Would you trust
Joe to maintain your lawn, which in essence, is your home’s website – it’s first impression, or would
you feel more comfortable having John Doe come handle it?
One of the fantastic aspects that the internet has offered us is the fact that it has leveled the playing
field when it comes to competing with the “big boys”: the big box chains and international
corporations. As I mentioned previously, you have one shot at making a good first impression. With a
well-designed site, your little operation can project the image and professionalism of a much larger
company. The inverse is also true. I’ve seen many big company websites that were so badly designed
and hard to navigate that they completely lacked professionalism and credibility. I won’t mention any
names, but you know who they are, we all do. Good for you, too bad for them.
Another aspect I handle frequently is the size of the operation. You have a small operation, but when
it comes to benefiting from a website, size does not matter. I don’t care if you’re a one-man show or a
10,000 employee corporate giant; if you don’t have a website, you’re losing business to your
competitors that do. What you sell, or what you offer, does not matter either. Everyone has
something to say, and there’s always people out there looking for it. Pharmacies, toy stores,
carpenters, religious institutions, you name it. The point to be made here is that you should, at the
very least, have a presence on the web so that customers, potential employees, business partners and
perhaps even investors can quickly and easily find out more about your business and the products or
services you have to offer.
There is one exception to these rules: It’s actually better to have no website at all than to have one
that makes your business look bad. Your site speaks volumes about your business. It either says, “Hey,
look, we take so much pride in our business that we have crafted this wonderful looking site for our
customers!” or it screams, “I let my 11 year old nephew design my site. Good luck finding anything!”
Another huge advantage to having a website is that we can integrate our social media into them,
outlets like Facebook and Twitter, which allow us to reach out to our customers, clients, fans, friends,
and family in real time. They say the most valuable asset to a business is word-of-mouth, and when
you have 3000 fans sharing your information across the globe, what better advertisement can you
have? Please follow the Spa Media Group’s blog to read my upcoming article about The Importance
of Social Media and Your Business.
Your website is an important part of your business. Make sure you treat it as such.