Budget is always a concern with website development, especially with the small businesses. This is especially true with new businesses, which are typically under-capitalized. Yet, a great looking, optimized website is more than ever the key to small business success. Which is why an upfront investment in a good quality website is worth the investment over the long-term.
Your Website is Your Marketing Hub
Your company website is now arguably the most important piece of marketing material you have. If you hand a prospective customer a business card or flyer, chances are they will check out your website before visiting your shop, store or professional office. For businesses that don’t sell online, a good website is a place that helps drive phone calls, email contacts and foot traffic.
Key Components to Website Success
There are a number of things that websites need to help your business succeed.
- Search Engine Friendly – If you want to get found, the site must be designed with good SEO (Search Engine Optimization) techniques and the ability to make changes to more than just the page content.
- Attractive Design – If your website looks professional, customers will gain trust in your services.
- User Friendly – The website should be easy to navigate and well organized so visitors can find the information you are providing.
- Mobile Friendly – More and more Internet users are viewing your site on their smart phones or tablets. Components of mobile friendly include avoiding the use of Adobe Flash (Which doesn’t work on Apple mobile devices) and responsive design (the site reorganizes content for display on different screen sizes. This blog/portfolio portion of our site uses responsive design) or a mobile site.
- Provide an infrastructure to collect leads – You must have a way to track website visitors, create landing pages for Google AdWords or other Internet advertising, create forms to collect data, push out confirmation emails, download sales content (flyers, brochures, white papers or other files), and much more.
Why free and low-cost site builder tools fail
- Not Search Engine Friendly – This is probably the biggest failing of free and low-cost websites. They typically are not indexed well by search engines or have things built into them that ruin the chances of your company being found. We once reworked a site for a client that had used a template set up for another type of business. The template included meta-data that sent signals to search engines it was really a different kind of business. It is never good to send confusing signals. Many builder tools won’t let you make other important changes, like those to page titles, meta-descriptions, etc. Even if they do allow it, most people who set them up don’t know how to make these changes or what to change them to for good Search Engine Optimization.
- Non-Professional Design – Many site builders provide some basic design, but then the user has to fill in the blank canvas of the screen. This often leads to poor quality in the overall look of the pages. Additionally, it can often lead to inconsistent page design. We’ve seen sites where all the pages have different background colors for no obvious reason. The majority of these sites also lack attention to detail in things like font choices and spacing.
- Lack of data and lead production – The majority of self-builder sites we’ve seen don’t include a lot of functionality you might want, like sending a new prospect a thank you email after they fill out a form on your website. Many won’t even provide you with a form to collect data. Often there might be problems with adding an analytics package to your website, creating a site map for search engines to look at, or a variety of other back-end details that you can do with regular hosted website, but not with one built by a builder tool.
- Few are Mobile Friendly – This might be starting to change, but the vast majority of sites built with builder tools have no mobile friendly aspects to them.
- No Scalability – Builder sites are typically designed for small websites, so if you want to keep adding content to your site over a number of years, they are not a good fit.
Can You Afford Not to Have a Professional Website?
The key reason companies use build-it-yourself websites is that it fits their budget. Free or just a few dollars a month. However, the real question is can your business afford to not be found in search engines, give those customers that find you a poor experience and go without collecting important leads. Investment in one of your key marketing tools will pay off for years into the future.