Maybe you just started a business. Maybe you’ve been in business for years and you’re looking for a way to build your client base.
In either scenario, one of the first questions any business owner asks themselves is, “Do I need a website for my business?”
The short answer: yes.
In this day and age, the legitimacy of your business is questioned if you don’t have a professional, online presence.
Now the caveat: not every business needs to drop $50 grand on a custom-designed website with all the bells and whistles.
There is a happy medium depending on the needs of your individual organization. The important thing to think about is the actual value a website will bring.
If your website will be a major source of your revenue or you’re a cutting-edge tech company, then having a website that facilitates that and projects the right image is crucial.
On the other hand, if you’re a small company that gets most of it’s business from drive-by traffic, a simple site may be all you need.
I have Facebook and Twitter accounts. Is that enough?
Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites are a good start, but they’re not the same as having your own website that you control. There are some downsides:
- You’re restricted to operating within their constraints, whether that’s the number of characters you can put in one tweet, the number of friends you can have, or even the end user license agreement for content uploaded to the site. Formats and interfaces change frequently, and it’s up to you to keep up.
- You don’t have the ability to add additional features as your business grows, like adding an online storefront or blog, for instance.
- As impossible as it may seem, these sites could shut down at any time and take your online presence with them. Or, they could just get really lame.
- You’re limited to interacting with people who have these accounts. It may seem like everyone has a Facebook account these days, but believe it or not, you could have potential customers who won’t.
What about free (or cheap) website services like Etsy or WordPress.com?
Sites like Etsy and WordPress.com that allow you to build a website on their platform for free (or very cheap) can be a great option when you’re getting started. But they also have some stipulations to keep in mind:
- Your website is usually required to display the branding of the company providing the service.
- Again, it’s rare, but these sites could shut down at any time.
- There are typically some constraints to what you can do with your site. It may be how your page design can be altered, the number of pages you can add, what features are available, etc.
- Some visitors may question the size or scope of your business if your only online presence is on a free website service. This may or may not be a factor for your business.
On the other hand, these websites have some advantages:
- Joining an existing netwok can generate additional exposure for your website.
- Many of the free website services, such as Etsy, have a loyal base of users and do quite a bit of promotion themselves. Your site can gain additional exposure from simply being a part of the network.