Is Getting a Website for Your Business Your New Year’s Resolution?

46% of small business owners, according to one survey, don’t yet have a website. 45% claim to think that it’s a myth that everyone needs one.

I find these numbers hard to believe, frankly.

Look at some facts:

  • The more a small business earns, the more likely they are to have a website. That is, more successful companies have websites. It’s possible that this means that small businesses can’t afford websites, but it’s equally possible that those with an online presence become more successful because of it.
  • The internet is the primary source of information in the United States. Skip a phone book listing, if you want to save. Your customers and potential customers are going directly to the web.
  • 79% of consumers browse online before they do physical shopping, and make most of their decisions before they get near your brick and mortar shop.

So, if you don’t currently have a website, you need one.

Should you make your own? This question continues to arise. In fact, in the past week, I’ve encountered it three times:

  • A graphic designer with no web experience asked me whether I thought she should make her own site.
  • A rapper contacted one of our team about getting a website, saying that he’d been told he should just build one himself with the aid of online instructions.
  • I read an apparently serious article that recommended getting your small business website built by kids in exchange for a pizza.

Is the sign over your shop spray painted with stencils from the hardware store? Do you figure up sales on the backs of old envelopes? Or do you strive to present a professional appearance?

Here are the top three reasons to have your site professionally done:

  • It will actually get done. The vast majority of the people who’ve told me over the past couple of years that they planned on making their own websites still don’t have websites. It’s harder to do than you think. Most people who try it simply give up before they get anywhere near finished. This all by itself is a good reason to hire someone.
  • It will be done right. What does it say about your company if you have a poorly designed, ugly website with grammar and punctuation errors? This is the first contact many people will ever have with your company, so it makes sense to get it right. I’ve just received a new web design book from Smashing, and an initial glance shows that it includes hundreds of points, from how to adjust your text to get a nice rag to the best choices of color for clickable elements. To me, it’s a perfect reminder of how complex the process is, and how unlikely DIY efforts are to be successful.
  • It will be more cost-effective in the long run. The main reason people without the skills and training think about making their own websites is that they think they can save money by doing so. It takes about five hours to write a simple website and twenty to build it, one or two to get the site up and running, five to do basic foundational linkbuilding. Factor in discussions and decision-making, and we’re saying that professionals with all needed resources will spend a full work week getting a basic website up and running. In real life, the time involved in gathering information and sending things through committees can increase that time to a month or more. DIY will naturally take longer — possibly much longer. Can you really leave your business alone for that long?

If you’ve decided to let this be the last year you do without a website, you might find these posts useful:

As always, if you need help, please feel free to contact me.

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