Do I Need A Website For My Business?
If you are reading this post, you are probably a small or medium business owner that is wondering why you need a website in the first place. Or, if you have an older, slower website that is not mobile friendly, you are wondering if you should have it redesigned.
Why Do You Need A Website
A website lends your business credibility
It differentiates you and your business from the guy that works out of his van and uses burner phones. It guarantees the quality of your work and helps you create a good reputation.
A Website provides your customers with information
Most of the people research products and services very thoroughly nowadays. In fact, the majority (76%) of the people that search on their smartphones for something nearby go to a business's physical location within a day. A website can provide your customers with information about your local business and services. With the help of reviews and social proof, it can also show them what other people think about your business and provide them with your contact information when they decide to buy.
A website works 24 hours a day so you don't have to
Well, the statement above is a little bit exaggerated. It is very important for a website owner to understand that you are not going to be swamped with business just because you have a website. Yes, it will help you get more leads in the long run, or even in the short run, if you invest in paid advertising, content creation and marketing. A lot of web designers promise more than they can deliver just to get your business.
So, back to the original topic. A website works 24 hours a day. For example, if your customers searches for your services at 1 AM and finds your Chicago plumbing contractor website, they will probably look up your business hours and contact you first thing in the morning. If you offer emergency plumbing services, they can call you right away and hire you for a premium fee.
A website will put your customers' doubts to rest
Just like I am doing right now - I am answering one of your most important questions (and the biggest obstacle that has to be overcome before you hire a web designer) - do I really need a website?
A well designed website improves customer service
There are a a lot of ways how you can improve customer service with the help of a website, here are just a few of them:
- use the website for review generation
- prevent negative reviews by finding the reason why a customer is unhappy and taking care of it
- provide the customer with a way to contact you right now
- keep the customer updated with your new products and services
- send your customers reminders (such as appointment reminders)
- give them the option to easily and safely pay online
Improving customer service usually results in more business.
A website acts like a virtual showroom
Are you a Chicago photographer or do you run an Evanston medical clinic? A website can show your best work, be it real estate photography or the smiling face of the old lady you helped get better.
A website pays for itself
Like I said before, you will get a lot more business from your website if you invest into marketing it. But, the good news is that you will only need it to generate just a few leads for you to recuperate your investment:
- if you own a Irving Park restaurant, a single customer visit will bring a small profit. However, if that customer visits your restaurant once a month, then the customer lifetime value (CLV) is a lot higher
- if are an Evanston tree service company and your ROI is higher, you will need just a few leads to get back what you invested in the website. Once the investment is paid off, the rest of the leads are pure profit
Another strategy to pay for website fast is to add a small amount (for example 5%) to your services or products until the website is paid off.
When Do You Need To Redesign Your Website
With the rapid switch to mobile devices, a lot of website owners have been left behind. That is the number one reason why local business owners need to have there website redesigned - to get a mobile responsive website. So what in the world is that supposed to mean?
Simply put, it means that the elements that make up your website and website pages rearrange and scale themselves so they can be easily viewed both on a desktop computer and on a mobile device, such as a smartphone.
Other reasons to redesign your small business website are:
- most of the old website does not reflect what your business does anymore
- your old website is ugly
- your old website was manually coded or designed using an obscure CMS. Updating it will cost you more than redesigning it from scratch
- your previous webmaster is keeping your website hostage. It does happen
- your customers are complaining about your old website
Are There Businesses That Do Not Need A Website?
Yes, there are. If you get most of your business from word-of-mouth referrals and repeat customers, you do not need a website. However, it is still a good practice to put together a small website with a homepage that introduces what you do, an about page that talks about how your business came to be and a contact page so people can easily find your business.
You Need A Website, Why Not Do It Yourself?
There are a lot of builders that boast of amazing drag'n'drop functionalities and unfathomable riches in savings. That is not usually the way to go for a variety of reasons:
- the end product does not look good
- the website is slow loading
- the more you want to customize the website, the harder (or even impossible) it becomes
- the images are cropped off and the most important parts are cut off
- they are very quick to point you to a host of other (more expensive) services for most of the issues that you bring to their attention
That is how my first website was designed - using one of those builders. To be kind to myself, the results were subpar...
Even the big DIY platforms use WordPress for their own blogs - this is how useful it has become:
Wait? Are you saying that the Wix blog is not a Wix site, but a WordPress one?
— Marie Haynes (@Marie_Haynes) September 5, 2018
If you are technically inclined, you can still learn how to design your own website. However, it is going to take you a lot of time to learn (that you might not have when running a business) and the results will probably not be the same as those of a professional designer. But hey, I am a DIY type of guy myself and understand that there are other similar people that have to do it themselves. Good luck and let me know if I can help.
Do I Need A Business License For A Website
No, you do not need a business license for a website. However, you need to identify yourself or your business on your contact page to let people know that your business is legitimate and not a scam.
Do I Really Need A Website For My Business?
My best advice is to call a few web designers and get their opinions (make note of hard to believe promises). The rest is up to you - good decision making is one of the critical skills when running a business.