Websites can be a big expense, so for small businesses that are centered around providing a service to locals, it can be easy to write them off as an unnecessary one. But there are many reasons why an online presence is an essential addition for every business.
Websites are often a first port of call for new customers, a great way to bring in new ones and keep your visibility up in the face of your competitors. It is becoming increasingly popular for people to scout out something new via its online presence as opposed to its physical one, as this can be done in a few seconds without taking a single step in any direction. This saves on time and energy, especially as services such as Google Maps become even more of a mirror to the physical world. Map services will often pin links to the websites of companies occupying a space to their places on a map to reinforce that link as well. As customers often show a preference for businesses with close proximity, identifying which areas you provide a service in is highly advantageous, and can often place your business higher in search results. This is a very useful marketing tool for any business that operates on any level above that of walk-in services, such as convenience stores.
The 24/7 Customer Service that an online presence provides is also far greater than what is often available through a business phone number. Basic information such as business hours, menus or other service information can be made available at all hours. If there are questions that you know customers will inevitably ask up and ring, you can place these in a ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ portion of a website and thus answer some questions in advance, saving your own time from repetitive requests as well as increasing the visible level of support provided by your business.
This can also be a good place to link through to your business’ social media presence. Tying in links between each part of your business’ web presence is a great way to boost your Search Engine Optimisation score, placing you higher up again in results and more likely to be the first port of call for new customers. This is also a good place to link positive articles about your business, testimonials or other sites that your business is rated on, and encourage customers to give positive feedback to reinforce your credibility as a business that satisfies its customers’ needs.
When planning a website, remember to keep it simple and match your businesses’ needs. Just providing the basic information that people are interested in with some good presentation can often be enough to reap the rewards, and keeping it simple makes the process of getting a website much cheaper and easier.
D.I.Y. Versus Hiring a Professional
If you want to save on costs, you may want to look at website builder options that will empower you to create the site yourself. There are many available with different features and pricing levels that allow you to both build and host your website. Some, such as Wix.com, do not require any programming abilities; you can choose from a template, create minor edits on each one with a drag-and-drop website editor, and upload the information that you need or change it in the future very easily. Different blogging websites such as WordPress are also popular for providing cheap domains and web hosting, although the templates available may be very different from more generalised website builders. Extensive customer support is also provided through each hosting service. They will not provide all the expertise and labour that a web designer will, but they are still a valuable resource to access if you choose to explore this option.
If you do not have the time or skills to explore website building yourself, or you do not have a clear vision of what kind of website you want, then you may be best served by calling in a professional. A web designer can help you identify the best options for your business and craft a specialised product to match. They can also create products that suit your business and branding more closely as their skillsets enable them to include more unique or complex features than what is available on DIY builders with templates.
You may decide on a design that is long-lasting and requires no changes across time. This can be beneficial as you are less likely to need to spend money on tech support in the future, and less required to sink your own time into upkeep for the website. Otherwise the website can be built with easy ways for you to access and edit it in the future via content management systems – whether for changing minor details of your business as you adapt throughout the future, or for adding seasonal promotional material and other marketing material. This can allow your website to be an adaptable and current part of your brand. If you do want editable content on your website however, aim to keep the number of editable features down to a minimum. This reduces the likelihood of each change costing you extra time and money, makes it harder to accidentally break your website with unexpected changes and reduces the possibility that you may require technical support a second time around.
Lastly, when making goals for what kind of website you need, remember that a simple website that functions correctly provides a more positive long-lasting impression on the customer service experience you provide than a flashy website that breaks easily.