What’s the importance of having a website anyway?
I have been a Web Designer for a number of years. I have contemplated how I would explain the importance of a website for businesses that I encounter everyday. I have had numerous comments that I have voiced, but never have I written it down to read. Here is my chance.
We are in a technical age now. Everyone is using computers, cell phones, hand held devices… they are talking Bluetooth this and IR that. Have you ever heard this one, “Hey beam me your stats!” …Beam my what? Where do I look like I’m from, Starship Enterprise?
It’s true; I wear a Bluetooth in my ear and a cell phone on my hip every waking moment. I have a laptop and a desktop at my disposal. I consider myself web savvy. If I need to find a business, I jump on the web to find them. If I am driving and need a phone number, address, or directions, I use my cell phone to call up my best friend, who in turn does a lookup on her computer. Lately, I have called Google’s new 800-GOOG-411 which connects me automatically.
It doesn’t matter where you are in the world, everyone asks that pertinent question, “Do you have a website?” or “How about an Email address?” It is a sad moment when you hear the reverberating, “No.”
I live near a University town and everyone is ‘wired’ up here. Students look for apartments or homes that are ‘wired’ for Internet. When I first moved here, I moved from a very large city to a very tiny city. I call it “Podunk, Idaho.” I remember the first few days we moved up here, I would search the Internet for restaurants that would deliver to my home. Just local restaurants; it didn’t matter that I wasn’t able to order online. All I wanted was a menu to see my choices, or the possibility of finding discount coupons just for using the Internet.
No business is too small for a website. Do you hand out business cards? How important are business cards to your business? Do you have an advertisement in the Yellow Pages? I remember a time in my childhood hearing my father working out the details of advertising his business in the Yellow Pages. The bigger the Ad, the more business he had. Having a website is just as important as these are, if not more.
The Internet is a very useful advertising and marketing tool. It is purported that Internet marketing is now a major, multi-billion dollar industry. People are becoming more confident in using the Internet for all their shopping needs. I do! Living in “Podunk, Idaho” driving to a city that has a large department store or even a grocery store becomes time consuming. Buying gifts for Christmas, Birthdays, and Valentine’s Day couldn’t be easier!
An Internet presence, if only to say who you are, has become a necessary means to good advertising.
Ok, so now you want a website, what do you need?
The first thing you need to do is find yourself a web designer who can sit down with you and get a feel for you and your business.
Your website must:
- Describe your business.
- Describe your services or products.
- You NEED contact information available. (Web forms are useful tools for gathering information.)
- If you’re a performing artist, you need a Media Kit, also known as a Press Kit.
- Do you teach? Describe your programs or workshops
If you offer a service, it is important to elaborate on the service or services that you offer. For instance, are you a public speaker? Use your website as a forum to speak out to your clients. Are you an artist? Show some examples of what you have done in the past. Sell your work using a small store setting, displaying your products for all to see.
Use your website like a canvas or a billboard. Make it interesting and exciting to visit.
Once your Website is functional, remember to update.
One very important thing to remember is to keep you website fresh! You need to add new information and remove old information, regularly. Make sure that people want to come back to your website. Keep your pages clean and easy to navigate. Add features to your website like newsletters, calendars, and photo albums for starters. Offer specials on your products from time to time. Add reviews from previous customers whether they are in-house or through email. Remember, your website is a work in progress!
Welcome to the 21st Century!