Trying to explain the importance of a great, well planned and programmed website to many business owners often ends up in a glazed over look and the question, “But doesn’t it just need to BE there?”
The simple answer to that is no. A website that is just “there” may as well not exist at all.
While trying to explain this recently, I had a brain wave. Websites are kind of like icebergs. The bit you can see is, well, only the tip of the iceberg. The stuff that website visitors and even the business owner themselves can’t see is the bulk of what will make or break a website. There is so much that needs to go on in the planning, navigation, programming and ongoing SEO (Search Engine Optimisation); not to mention quality content, social engagement and interactivity, connectedness with outside business tools, measurement tools and connection with your offline actions.
For your website to be a worthwhile investment, it should be working really hard. But what does that mean in real terms?
1. A business website needs to be easily found when a) people are looking for the products or services you provide and b) people are looking specifically for them (you may consider this a no brainer, but the number of times I Google a business name and can’t easily get to their website is frightening). If you are un-findable, what are you online for?
2. Your website needs to BE your brand. In its user experience, design, content… it has to live and breathe the brand. Think about your website from an outsider’s perspective, are you happy with what it says about your professionalism, reliability, customer service…?
3. It needs to actually function. Things that are really good at stopping it from doing that include links that don’t work, images that don’t load, responsive fails on tablets and smartphones. (Can it be seen well on an iPhone / iPad / mobile? Can it be seen at all?) All of these things tell your prospective customers that you aren’t on the ball, you don’t really care and your attention to detail is pretty poor. It’s not what most businesses want to be saying.
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4. A well set up website should also be able to inform a lot of your business decisions and actions. Choosing the right measurement and analytics tools takes your website from being a sales tool to providing you with useful and actionable information about your customer base; what they are interested in, what sells, what works and allows you to set up a really strong conversion funnel. Knowing exactly where your best customers have come from, how they found you and what they did on your site, is invaluable in increasing your bottom line. The old adage “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted, I just don’t know which half.” Doesn’t need to hold sway anymore, knowing how to use the data your website can give you is paramount in today’s online world.
When it comes down to it, creating a great website involves a lot more strategy, technical expertise and design skills than it seems at first glance.
So what is a website that can do all this worth to your business?
When you consider what you spend on a quality sales person, a great website can be that and more at a fraction of the price. So is choosing the cheapest website option the best idea? If it’s not doing what it should be doing, it’s actually actively harming your business in multiple ways.
Back to the iceberg analogy, do you want a site which is about to melt away because it has no oomph beneath the surface, or do you want an iceberg fit to sink the Titanic?