Why Do I Need a Website?
A client asked recently: “I have a Facebook company page, so why would I need a website? I don’t want to confuse my customers.”
As this is a popular question among small business owners, I have provided a few links to articles with points for consideration in addition to what I will share in this article.
In addition to the perspectives provided by service providers such as GoDaddy and ConstantContact, I would raise the following considerations if you are weighing whether you need a website for your business.
Does Customer Perception of Your Business Matter?
There may be some small service providers in your community that provide a niche product such as children’s birthday cakes or handyman services, providers from which you really don’t need to trust them – primarily because you personally know them or there’s a common link via a homeowners association that provides a level of credibility for that business.
In general, it matters that your potential customers can trust you. Is your business properly set up? If you are here today when I place my order, will you be there tomorrow on the date I am picking up my order? You say you are a specialist in x, y, or z, but how do I know your credentials?
The decision to have a website requires a few decisions that imply permanence and continuity. You must secure a Domain Name such as BirthdayBakers.com and claim your space on the Internet with that name. You must decide what services you will provide and what you won’t provide. You have to make style decisions about your company’s appeal and look/feel.
The more thoughtful you are about the website content you publish, the greater you can influence your potential customers about your legitimacy as a small business that customers can trust.
If you don’t need to be perceived as permanent or as a ‘real’ business, then you may not need a website.
Do You Need an Internet Presence Without Hassles?
It is true that you can now rely on Facebook, Yelp, Google, and many other web platforms that are more than happy to sponsor your business on their platform. At the end of the day, however, your needs are only the means to their real drive toward getting Advertisers attracted to their platform. Those courtesy ‘free’ pages they provide come with lots of robo-calls and suspicious service providers that will constantly nag you to purchase advertising services. They mask themselves as just checking to make sure you update your business information, and then they are deep into a discussion with you about an advertising purchase.
With a website, if you choose your website hosting service carefully, you will be liberated from all of these hassles. A website hoster exists only to host your website and possibly maintain it, but their business model is simple.
Do You Want To Control Your Website Features?
Do you want to offer an online payment option? Do you want to have several different sections of your website? Do you want a means of letting customers rate your services?
With a custom website, you can easily extend the website as your business evolves. If you don’t like to use a certain Online Payment Process, you can easily switch to a different provider? You can provide a way to book appointments as your business grows?
With a custom website, you can evolve your business presence to meet the evolving needs as your services change or your business grows.
If you are relying on Facebook, LinkedIn, and other business pages, you will always be limited and will conform to whatever they have provided for you. You will have little creative liberties you can take with those options.
Do You Want To Appear in Internet Searches?
I learned the hard way that the answer is not always yes to this question. If you just want to point customers to your site via business cards or other advertising references, then you don’t need to consider this for your site. Again, if you are just a small company wanting to generate a bit of extra revenue for customers you are comfortable serving, this may not matter. Also, if you show up on Internet searches, your business can become a target. Just several months after me hiring a company to attract customers to my website, I was lured into a cyber-scam that cost me $4000. I’ll spare you the details, but I encourage you to not unnecessarily pursue exposure for your business unless it an obvious means of attracting customers.
You can have a website that does not ‘rank’ on Internet searches, because it’s a very deliberate decision to take steps to increase your exposure on the Internet. But it’s a decision that matters when you think about your need for a website.
If you definitely want to attract customers via Internet searches, then you really need a website. The website becomes just one of the components that enables Search Engine Optimization for your site. To effectively achieve exposure for your business online, you will likely need to pay a specialist to help with that aspect of your business goals.
I have captured the main reasons I believe warrant consideration as you decide whether you want a company website or not, along with providing some other perspectives in the links I provided at the beginning. I hope the content has been useful as you make your decisions.
If you are interested in a business consultation to talk a bit with my company about website development and hosting options, feel free to set up a Free Consult to discuss your questions and goals.