Do I need a website? Why do I need one? How do I get one?
So, you have a website or are looking to get one, but have you really asked yourself why you have or want a website? You know you need a website, well that’s what the consensus is, everyone’s business needs a website, right?
Unfortunately, it’s not a case of if you build it, they will come. A lot of businesses are under the impression that if you get a website, customers will flock to you and sales will increase. This is not always the case, I wish I could say it was. The problem is not all businesses know why they actually need a website, it’s more of a case of do what the jones’ are doing. In other words, my competitor has a website do I need one.
I am no expert on website design and development, but I have been in the web hosting industry for nearly 20 years and have seen what works and what doesn’t. I wanted to share my insights into websites and hopefully help a business or two make the right decisions when it comes to the purpose of a website.
The simplest way to break this down is in 4 sections, The What, The Why, The Who and The How – all equally important and needs to be considered when embarking on such a daunting task of getting a website built or building one yourself.
According to the dictionary, a website is a noun meaning “a set of webpages located under a single domain name” and the example given is “for more information, please see our website”. Wonderful, but what does that actually mean? I guess the easiest way to explain this is a website is a set of webpages that contain information, usually with a purpose that is accessible by going to the web address or domain name in a browser.
Your browser receives code from a web server that contains different elements and displays them in a way that is hopefully appealing to the eye. Web Pages can contain text, images, video, other multimedia and many other elements.
If you had to choose the most important part about getting a website, this would be it. Why do I need a website? To really answer that question, you need to be open and honest with your answers as usually the more complex answers have a more complex cost. Instead of looking at a website as a necessity to compete or just because, look at your website as a tool that is going to help your business solve a problem or generate sales / leads. A website can be an invaluable tool to any business if designed and built correctly with purpose. It could be as simple as you want to describe a product or service you offer to help educate your customers or it could be as complex as a web based application to improve a business process such as a manufacturing design, order and shipping tracking or real time quoting.
Take a courier for instance, imagine the sheer volume of phone calls this industry would have if you could not track your parcel online, or how many more staff an insurance company would require if you could not get a real-time quote online and you had to do it the old fashion way with a phone call. Obviously not all businesses will have requirements as complex as these, but it should be a major factor to determine the purpose of your website when embarking on developing one.
A substantial portion of websites online are quite simply “brochure type” websites which are in my view like a business card. Usually has a spiel on the products and services offered by a business and a contact us page which is normally a simple contact us form that enables a customer to contact you. This is totally fine if this works for you, but how do customers find you in the current maze of the internet? Content and Search Engine Optimisation is king in this department, let’s be realistic your current customers know you and obviously already buy your products and or services.
The main thought behind a website should be to either attract more customers or solve a problem within your business to make it easier or more efficient for your customers.
Once you work out why you want a website and what you want it to do for you, you will be much better prepared in deciding on where you spend your budget or what areas to focus on when building a website.
You might be well equipped to build your website to suit your requirements or you might want to outsource to a professional. Unless you build websites for a living, experience from a digital agency or an experienced web professional will be invaluable and almost certainly bring you closest to your goals and making your website work for you.
GoHosting is not a Digital Agency nor do we do any web design, we however have a broad selection of partners in our Web Design Directory that we have worked with over the years and have found them to be very good at what they do.
I wouldn’t be very good at my job if I didn’t mention Web Hosting here. One key thing to keep in mind is you have control of where your website will be hosted. The reason this is important is its equally important to build a relationship with your Web Hosting Company as it is with your Digital Agency or Marketing Company. Web Hosts are experts in hosting websites and the technicalities required to make everything work, be fast and be reliable. Ensure you know the location of where your website is hosted from and what hours you can get support if you ever need it. Unfortunately, it is common we come across clients we are transitioning to our network that are on an oversold server overseas which impacts user experience and even Search Engine rankings.
If you are going to engage the services of a Digital Agency, be prepared. Make a list of all the features you want and document the purpose of your website. Prepare your content, if you make a content plan and prepare all the information you would like publicly available it will make the job of the Digital or Marketing agency so much easier which will cost you less in the long run.
Budget is also very important. How much is your website worth to you? If you are an online shop, all of your sales are online so it is highly likely that your website is the cornerstone of your business so a larger budget should be considered to get a better solution that will result in more conversions.
In a nutshell the process is:
Hopefully this very brief article will help you be better informed when making some decisions about your online presence. The last point I will make is that websites are not easy, they are not a set and forget and watch the dollars roll in, websites are challenging work and the more effort and work you put in, the more rewarding it will be for you. So good luck and if I can help you in anyway feel free to drop me a line.
Author: Alan Dawe