Your Outdated or Non-Existent Website is Costing You BIG!
Recently, Adobe discontinued support for the once essential adobe Flash platform. This is bad news for the hundreds of thousands of predominately small businesses whose websites, many built before 2014, are still using long outdated flash sites. It isn’t simply a matter of functionality, search engines are already blocking flash sites, which means that flash websites are showing up as blank pages or are being de-indexed.
So, that website that your neighbor's, wife's, deadbeat brother made for you while living in his mother's basement, probably isn't giving you the best bang for your buck. And an outdated website is just as bad for business as no website at all. Which brings us to this...
In a recent Clutch poll, 45% of small businesses (defined as having fewer than 10 employees and annual revenue of less than $1 million) didn’t have a website…at all!
So in an economic reality where 81% of consumers check out a company’s website before they decide to even call or visit the firm and more than half surveyed said that they didn’t trust a company with no online presence, why would any company, no matter the size have an outdated or non-existent website?
These are the most common cited reasons for having a crappy or non-existent website:
1# I Don’t Need a Website, I Rely on Word of Mouth
Having a satisfied customer recommend you to others is perhaps the best way to gain new business. However, the poll showed that 62% of potential consumers would rather research a company online before reaching out to a principal or a salesperson. A referral is just the beginning. If you don’t have relevant, fresh information online, over half of respondents would continue searching elsewhere.
Relying on word of mouth alone means you could be losing out on over half of your referrals.
2# A Website is Way to Expensive – I won’t Recoup the Costs
Most businesses don’t need a complicated website. Even the addition of online catalogs, scheduling, and chat features doesn’t need to cost a small business a fortune. On national average, most small business websites cost between $3,000 and $5,000 and have a three-year lifespan. Even with hosting and integrated email, a terrific website averages out to cost a business less than $150 a month.
Meanwhile, many small businesses spend thousands on print brochures, mailers, and local booths, which are both expensive and ineffective, and invariably lead people to search for your website.
3# My Business is Local – I Don’t Need a Global Presence
72% of people in a recent WordStream poll said that they searched for a company within 5 miles of their home or business before going to the business. People are busy and want to know that a business sells the items or provides the services that they want, before they get in the car.
Have you ever noticed that when you search for a business, you get local results? If you look for a restaurant or a day care provider or a mechanic, you aren’t getting results for restaurants and day care providers and mechanics in other parts of the country, even if they have the same name. That is because search engines use your location to curate results relevant to you. In fact, you would have to add a location into your search (French restaurants in Charleston, daycare Dade County, or mechanics in Wichita) if you want results outside of your immediate area.
So, while it is possible for people in almost every part of the world, if they know your domain name, to find your website, when people use a search engine (Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc.) the vast majority of your hits are coming from local searches.
4# I Don’t have the Time or Know-how to Maintain a Site
Most well-built sites now have integrated update features that allow you to update your site information, pictures, and content easily, with no experience, coding, or complicated processes. Integrated blogs, newsletters, and social media can be updated in their own platforms and automatically refresh in your site.
Not long ago, changes had to made through the web designer, which typically meant additional fees and delay. That is just really unnecessary today.
5# I Don’t Want to Deal With All That Social Media
Social media can be a terrific boon to a business. But not all businesses need (or want) all types of social media. A florist, restaurant, or tile company may want to share their latest creations or products through visual based social media such as Instagram. But service based businesses such as an accounting firm, septic tank cleaners, or law firm may struggle to find appropriate visuals to use on that platform. Instead service based businesses often find greater success using Business to Business social media such as LinkedIn.
Selecting and using social media is really about understanding your target audience and how they consume information.
OK so you understand that you really do need a modern, functional, easy to find and navigate website.
Wait…Can’t I Just Do It Myself?
Well sure you can! You can also watch videos on YouTube that will teach you how to cut your own hair, build a house, and perform your own oral surgery. Should you? Probably not. A website isn’t the same as a brochure or even a commercial, it is a place where potential consumers can find out what they want to know about your firm, not necessarily what you think is important to tell them.
You also need to have a pretty good eye for design, a working knowledge of how different sized screens will alter the size, shape, and functionality of the site, and understand SEO and how to ensure that your site ranks high for appropriate search terms and phrases.
On average, for professionals, a website takes between 3 and 6 weeks to design and build, depending on the complexity of the site.
Ok how do I select a web designer?
1# Check Out Their Own Site
If you want a good idea of the skills and abilities of a web design company, check out their own site on both your desktop and mobile device. If their site doesn’t function well on your tablet or phone, has a lot of “real estate” (blank screen) around the content, all of the info seems to fall to one side of the screen, or it looks dated and tired, you can pretty much guarantee that that is what they will be creating for you.
2# Ask For Samples
Pretty self-explanatory. Look for firms that can show you relevant samples of their work and be sure that you like the look and functionality of those samples. If you need a site with a catalog or integrated chat feature, make sure that they can show you samples of sites with those features. If they can't, move on.
3# Work with a Firm the Includes You in the Process
You may not know much about web design, but you do know a lot about your business, your customers, and your business goals. A web design company that is only interested in building a site that promotes their skills should be avoided.
When we build sites, we have review points throughout the process, attached to payment points. This protects us as much as it protects the client, ensures active communication, and makes certain that everyone is on the same page.
4# Get the Scope in Writing
A scope should detail exactly what services are being rendered, establish delivery dates, and state costs. A general “build website” simply isn’t enough to provide protection. A scope that includes the number of pages that the website will contain, who will provide and approve photos and content, details functionality, includes provisions for hosting, repair, and integrating social media and establishes review and delivery dates will protect all parties.
Now that you understand that you are losing as much as 50% of your potential clients to firms with better online presence, there really is no excuse for not getting a modern, functional, business promoting website.
Need help getting started? We are happy to help!
updated from the original October 2017 post