In present century, internet’s popularity and utility cannot be over-emphasized. Its overwhelming growth in the past two decades can be assessed by the sheer numbers. According to internetworldstats data, in December 1995, when the world was trying to understand how to put the World Wide Web to the best use, there were 16 million internet users (0.4% of 1995 world population). In the two decades since, the Internet has grown at an incredibly fast speed, reaching 3.36 billion users (46% of world’s population) by December 2015. Today, it is almost criminal for a business to not be online. Rest of this article is dedicated to the importance of having a fun, interactive website, especially for small business owners. Also, we see why it is important for small business owners to learn web design and know how to build a website themselves rather than outsource it.
The answer is simple. Your business should be where the consumers are. A number of businesses have suffered the ill fate of neglecting the importance of having a website and going online - only to see their competitors make that crucial first move and surge ahead of them. As already stated through numbers, almost half the world’s population is online already. You don’t want to lose out on unlocking the immense business potential that the internet holds. If you are still having doubts about spending that extra bit on getting a website for your business, here are a few reasons that would convince you:
Website design is a one – time capital investment. Once done, you only need to renew your domain name and storage, which would cost a fraction of your overall revenue. Once the website is designed and developed, it would be accessible to billions of users and devices worldwide at the click of a button. Compare that, with the traditional marketing and sales channels, where you either have to depend upon word of mouth publicity or regularly invest substantial amounts in advertising through print and electronic media. It may not produce instant results, as it will take time for traffic to build up, but it costs next to nothing and the results are worth every penny.
To put it straight – no advertising channel can match the reach of a website. You can get hundreds and thousands of pamphlets and leaflets distributed but they get a very limited time to make an impact. When people hear about your company and are willing to do business, there is every chance they would first like to do their research online before they avail your services or buy your product. Furnishing basic information (corporate address, directions, map, product catalogue, etc.) on your website would go a long way in establishing your credibility as well as converting leads to customers.
Potential customers who want to connect with you might not have your contact details handy. In this age of Google, people often rely on its search powers to dig out information they want. Having a website will give them your contact details and they can initiate a communication via e-mail, phone or chat. A proper online communication channel thus gives you the power to draw customers towards you rather than reaching out to them all the time. On the other hand, if your business does not have online presence, the customer is more likely to look out for the next guy rather than fret about wasting time digging your contact information.
Conventional businesses pitch their products to customers through available advertising channels such as print advertising, electronic media and word of mouth publicity. These are localized approaches that seldom cross a particular geography (without significant spending). Having a website for your small business, gives you the power to pull customers towards your product/service rather than push your business to them. Imagine a customer looking for fencing companies in the Maryland area. He is likely to type “fencing company Maryland” and shortlist from the first few matches. If your business doesn’t feature online, you have lost not only a potential customer but any future business, he might have generated for you through positive word of mouth.
Having online presence enables you to carry out business or provide information to potential customers, round the clock. Someone can look up your business at 2 am and submit an enquiry form at your business’s website, from the comfort of his living room. This is not possible through traditional promotion. Modern day businesses have tweaked their business models so much in favor of online channels that many of them operate completely from the virtual world, i.e. they do not have a physical outlet at all. This saves up on infrastructure, salaries and utility expenses. At the same time, they operate in the “always on” mode, where they can communicate with the customers any time.
Static websites are a thing of the past, though having a static one is still better than having none. Static websites are a good way to register your online presence but the real value is with the dynamic websites. Given the pace at which technology has moved, customers do not have the patience to wait long hours to get their online queries answered. It is always better to have agents supporting online chats to handle customer queries rather than ask him to send an e-mail and then wait hours, if not days, to have their queries answered. Static websites can be developed easily and quickly. However, it requires web development expertise to update them. Their hosting comes cheap but in the long run you would end up spending more on updating and maintaining them, as you can’t update them yourself.
Dynamic websites are more expensive to develop and host but that is offset by their overall utility and the flexibility they provide. Here we list out some of the prominent advantages of dynamic websites:
The ultimate aim of designing a website is to provide customers with as much information as possible in the simplest of manners. Interactive websites do exactly that. Instead of loading a website with all the information that a customer might seek, you can give them few customizable filters which they can use to extract specific information. Imagine logging into a travel website to find it loaded with details about all the flights, showing fares for all dates between all valid combinations of 2 cities! You’d rather have it give you choices to enter information such as source city, destination city, date of journey, etc.
A page of a dynamic website has a number of components. Owing to this fragmented website design, it is easy to update them in parts. Compare this with a static website, where the smallest of changes would require getting your hands dirty with coding a full page again and there is always a risk of unintentional introduction of a bug while you are at it.
Many business owners shy away from creating a website for their business, because they lack the technical know-how. They perceive updating content to be too much of a technical task and give up without trying. Dynamic websites solve this problem to a great deal. They come with dedicated Content Management Systems (CMSs) that make it extremely easy to update websites. Business owners no longer need to learn technology to update information or have a website for their businesses.
If you are a small business owner, we suggest you learn how to build a website yourself rather than hire someone to do it. Learning web design is fairly simple and it is a skill that will serve you throughout your life. Getting a website build by a professional seems to be an easy way out but it has to be kept in mind that for each and every small update (updating your contact information, adding another branch office, updating your product brochure, etc.) you would have to get in touch with the developer, which would be a lifelong expense.
There are plenty of tutorials for popular web development languages (such as PHP, HTML, CSS, etc.) that can be used to build modern, contemporary websites fairly easily. If you would like to experience how to build a website from scratch, then you can join this webinar.
The next time you have two thoughts about having a website of your own (or hiring a developer to build a dynamic, interactive website), go through this article and we hope it will save your business precious time and resources.