I have spoken with many small business owners who asked me, “Does my business need a website?” My answer is always, “maybe.” It could be yes, it could be no. Each individual business owner has to ultimately make that determination. As many times as I have heard this question I decided that I should write an article directed at it.
Does my business need a web site?
A website is an extension of your business, not just a pretty flyer online. I know several business owners who do not have, nor do they need a website. That may sound a little odd coming from a one who develops websites for small businesses but that’s the truth as I see it. I am not just in the business of building websites, I am in the business of relationships. Having great relationships with my clients as well as community business owners is far more important to my success (and yours) than selling a website that you may or may not need.
If your business is organized, all of your clientele is local, you have a back-log of customers waiting to be serviced and you can handle that service efficiently and effectively — you may not need a website. On the opposite side of the coin, if you could use more clients/customers, if you need to attract new customers without spending a fortune, if you need to break into new markets, if you need to take market share from your competitors, then you NEED a website.
Today, most people search online for businesses that meet their needs. Your website gives them information on where to find you, what you have to offer, what makes you the best choice, and what is new and exciting in your company. The way we build websites for our clients it is easy to maintain with a little learned knowledge and some effort on your part or you can leave your website maintenance up to us as well. Anything your business does, new products, services, charity, white papers, employment, just about anything can be placed on your website for your customers to see.
What does a website cost?
That’s not an easy answer. Having a website involves three basic costs: Registering a domain name, developing the site itself, and hosting the site.
The development or the building of the website is where the design, graphics, content, links and coding all come together to make your website look good, load fast, and function efficiently. It is the development of the site that costs the most money. Generally speaking most small business websites will range from $500 to upwards of $2,500 – $4,000 depending upon the complexity required. When you think about the cost it is about the same as placing a color ad in the paper a couple times a year, with one big difference. When your ad is done running no one sees you again. Your website, however, is a one time investment that is there year after year, serving you and communicating with your existing and prospective customers.
When it come to website hosting you can think of it like renting a storage space. You have your files and information and are renting a place to put them. Hosting varies in cost and ranges between $5 and $50 per month depending upon your website’s needs. The service you receive in your hosting account will vary widely as well.
Registering your domain name basically means that you are reserving a unique web address (your business name) where users can find your web site (www.yourcompany.com) online. This is done through a public registry service and the cost runs between $15 – $35 per year, unless you are using one of the new specialty top level domain names which are now available.
Building your website is a one time cost. After that you own it. The recurring costs that you are responsible for beyond that are the hosting and renewal of your domain name each year. There are additional costs that can (and in some cases should) be incurred.
Additional Costs — can include:
- Internet marketing services — This is the online marketing of your business through your website, email, landing pages, links, and other options, to bring more visitors to your website.
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO) — This is a combination of methods that help your website to be found and rank higher in the search engines when people search for specific keywords or phrases.
- Website Maintenance services — Includes updating the core files of your website, any plugins you may use, adding or modifying pages, analytics, traffic reports, backups, and more.
I don’t sell anything online. Why do I need a web site?
Saying that you don’t sell anything online is not entirely true. For many people, the first impression they will get of you will be from your website. You are selling yourself and your business through your website. If you have something to offer the general public then you can bet they are searching for it online. If you aren’t online then you are you missing opportunities that your competitors may be taking advantage of.
I don’t even use a computer. I can’t maintain a web site.
Well, you can learn or most likely you have an employee that is already computer literate and can help you in this situation. You can always use our website maintenance service as well. As your web developer we can help you with maintenance, changes and updates, and we feel we provide our clients an excellent service at a great price.
Many of our customers aren’t computer users.
Even if that is true, how many people DO use computers and couldn’t find you without your website online. You need only walk down the street too see how many people are walking with head down and phone in hand. THESE are your potential customers.
We spend a lot of money in advertising that bring us many of our new customers. We don’t have additional funds for a website.
It is important to recognize that a website is NOT an advertising investment. When you create an ad it remains the property of the advertiser. Your website belongs to you and serves your information to the public 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. A website in today’s world is also expected. Many people would rather visit your website to see if you have what they need rather than coming into your retail space.
A website is a marketing tool that costs you ONE TIME for creation and continues to serve your customers each and every hour of the day. It has the ability to expand your customer base, allows you to communicate more often to more people, enhances your marketing efforts, and allows you to present yourself in your best light at all times.