Why is having a website important?
The importance of having a website in this day & age is critical for any project, business or idea.
If you have a website, you will have the ability to not only communicate your message/product or service to new visitors, but you will also build trust around your brand.
For those of you who are still grasping the concept of websites in general, it's the equivalent of having a permanent newspaper or yellow pages ad, you know the big paper book almost everyone relied upon when finding tradespeople and businesses...
It's great having a website, but not so much when you haven't advertised it, as it would be quite hard for people to find you if you haven't posted it across social media channels, business directories or paid to advertise.
Either way owning a website puts you in control of what those visitors see, with full flexibility over how the website should function and the goals it should aim to achieve.
So what are the main benefits of having a website?
- It gives you your own platform, tailored to getting your message/product or service across to visitors.
- Serves key information for new and returning visitors (contact information, services, products, articles etc).
- Available to all users regardless of the devices they use to search.
- Enhances your brand and makes you look more professional.
- Improves sales online and in-store for local/national visitors.
- Builds trust and improves the company/project appearance.
- Gives you the ability to market online using paid advertising (PPC) and SEO (search engine optimisation).
And how much is a website? I can do it myself, I can hire someone else... what's the difference?
So this is a continuously ever-changing and conflicted question that has many factors to take into consideration, you will need to look into the scope and cost of a website and then discuss it with local agencies/freelancers to get a better understanding of the project at hand.
Since the boom of easy-to-use website builders in recent years, these solutions have allowed anyone regardless of experience in website design/development to put together a relatively straightforward brochure or eCommerce website.
And don't get me wrong, these are fantastic for certain non-profits, online communities and businesses that need specific requirements i.e. budget limitations, self-hosted with minimal security flaws, no need for updates, and a clean-looking website design that you control.
But, and this is a big but... those online builder solutions wouldn't really work for those with limited time, lacking knowledge in copyrighting, graphic design and/or have specific requirements that need custom workflows, requires integration with other systems and so forth...
There's a lot of work behind the scenes that go into website designing from discovery stages, wireframing (prototyping), UX/UI design, custom development and on-page SEO that really should be performed by those who have clear expertise and knowledge in these fields.
When it comes to cost the best advice again is to contact some local freelancers/companies/agencies and ask for a quote, perhaps speak to other business owners at networking events and even online forums/groups.
As well as a website, what else is important to have?
You should look to create an online presence wherever the majority of your audience can be found, social networks such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Linkedin, TikTok, Reddit and Pinterest are great places to create an account to get posting those updates you've been itching to inform people of.
These social networks can help to convert visitors into loyal followers/fans, not to mention the fact that you can display your website link for people to find out more.
Furthermore, within a section of your website (usually the header or footer), you could also reference those social networks so anyone who visits the website first, can also follow you on those channels.
With great content published and responsive and professional interactions between you and the followers, trust signals and clear information/branding will be important when starting out online.