Women leading women

Do I really still need a website?

At my company, Top Left Design, we spend a lot of our time creating bespoke websites, so it’s a strange question for me to be attacking. Do I really want to even put this question in your mind?

But here I am bravely writing about this.

Why would I even bring this up?

I know you won’t be able to get value from this post unless I answer this question. So, there are 3 reasons.

1. I really think you should only spend money only when you know there is a return– and you need to consider every investment carefully. An amazing fully thought out well designed expertly written and carefully marketed website with all the blogging and social integration can be quite expensive for a small or start-up business.

2. There are alternative options you can consider, as your business grows, and you can take things in phases. Safer, and it still works! You can dream about your ideal website now, and have the alternative options in the meantime.

3. I want you to know how nice I am.

Remember, this depends on the business

Sometimes it just won’t fly to have NO website. For example, if you run a professional services company like an accountant, management consultancy, law firm or IFA I don’t think you can get away with the “no website” option.  Similarly any type of agency might also not give the right impression.

But solopreneurs or those who or a small consultancy business could definitely consider getting started with one of the alternative options – as long as they have a really good presentation and activity.

I recently bought something from a company that didn’t have a website. Only a Facebook page.

It just proves it’s possible. I am still in the middle of talking to this company so at this time of writing I won’t be mentioning their name but I will be soon. But what happened was:

  • Someone I knew mentioned this product and said it was right up my street (being owl related – this friend of mine knows about how we use owls in our branding at TLD)
  • I looked to buy them online and ended up ordering via email as I didn’t see a website. Partly because I want to support other businesses, and partly because I like the product!

So there are choices. You can just have social media but what social media does is open the door – it doesn’t close the sale.

Would a website create more opportunities for this company?

I was thinking about what they could have had on the website – these are the things that would help them in the future:

  • Contact information for who is in the company One of the main reasons people look up a website is to get contact details.
  • What to expect when you buy (in this case it was a product, so colours and options, delivery time etc) but in service based businesses it would be the way the company takes clients through their services.
  • Credibility building information like testimonials, case studies, awards, memberships, credentials and advice blog posts
  • The ability to order/buy the products online – Since this was a product led business – it would either be on their own site, or via an existing site like Etsy (which is for handmade items only, and this product would qualify).

These are the sorts of things that help turn visits to your company website, into enquiries about the services/buying the products described on your site.

By nature websites allow people to choose what they want to learn more about. This is because they have headlines, navigation links, boxes, images and buttons which let people click onto different areas that interest them.  A unique website – if it’s professional and well designed, will help differentiate the company and introduce the brand.

However, there are other options for those who can’t afford this in their business right away – and since you have read this far, here they are:

A single page website – with this you can put in enough information to introduce the brand and give services and contact information. The single page website can always be added to later. You can also include links to all your social profiles, a Twitter feed, embedded YouTube videos, etc. We have done quite a few of these, and they have served our clients extremely well.
See some examples here:

Just a blog – Of course a full website with an integrated blog is best, but you can start with a blog –  WordPress or Tumblr. The benefit of this is you can start creating content and sharing that on social media. This archive of content can be migrated to a full site when you are ready for it.  And you get to work on the HABIT of blogging, often the biggest challenge for small businesses. But remember this has to be professionally presented. Pay attention to detail, use a great design and format your posts properly.

Just a Facebook business page – Like my example, you can even start with this, relying on the good word of others and social sharing. If you have just a Facebook page, study up on best practices. Keep your updates regular and visual, resize your images for Facebook. Include good information in the “about” section. In addition, as part of your content plan, include regular reminders of the credibility building elements interspersed with images relating to your team and offering.

So, I have bravely spelled it out – what do you think?

Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments – have you ever seen a business running without a website? Has it affected your opinion of them? What if they had used some of the advice above – and made sure their “alternative options” were awesome? Would that have helped? Over to you!

 

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6 Comments
  1. Maegan Anderson says

    If you don’t have a website you will miss the opportunity to be there when potential new customers are looking for your product or service. But we also know that building a website needs a lot of resources which means you will have to spend a huge amount for it. The point here is that there are advantages and disadvantages in creating a website. But at the end of the they, you are still the one who will decide whether you need it not. You just have to analyze everything first before you make a move.

  2. Nicole says

    Keren, great article!
    – Something that is current in my life. My current website is not very professional and a lot of the business and readers do come through it. I have just invested in a new website design, which will go live in April. Exciting! However I do hope that it is worthwhile as I chose not to use facebook for my business. I am working a lot more with twitter/LinkedIn and will start using some other social media, such as instagram in the future.

  3. Connor Harley says

    I still prefer having a website on my business. It is still different when you get to put all the things about your business the way you want it.

  4. Thanks all for your comments!

    Connor – the ideal scenario (my favourite) is to have a bespoke designed website, with an integrated blog, and with all your team, case studies, key messages and differentiators one click away. But if you want to build up to that, there are alternatives.

    Nicole, please email me when your new site goes live, would love to look at it!

  5. Piero says

    Today if you have not a website you’re completely out of the business world… Me too I didn’t want to join in Facebook, but at the end, even if I wasn’t agree, I had to create an account to stay in the social life with my friends… And the same it happened some years ago with first the computer (almost nobody had PC 10 years ago and now we can’t leave without it) and then with emails… In a world where it most important appearance than the sustance, having a website is almost mandatory if you promote something…

  6. Single With Kids says

    I may have been influenced by my technology-mad teens, but I automatically search on the net when I want information on a business, regardless whether this is an Amazon browse or to find out opening hours for a local company. The Yellow Pages is ditched automatically in our house (just another dust-collector), so even searches for local tradesmen begin and end with Google.

    It’s becoming increasingly easier and easier to set up a decent looking site with more effort than budget, WordPress (amongst other free web builders) is bringing the net to the small businesses who would otherwise struggle to build a presence. Why would anyone hold back?