Why a website?

One of the most common questions I get asked is 'why do I need a website'?

Well, let's handle that one straight off - you don't 'need' one. Anymore than you 'need' a Facebook page or the latest BMW 7 series. But what are the good reasons for having one in this day and age of Facebook stores, etsy and Shopify?

1. People are looking you up on Facebook & want to know more before they buy.

For many people, especially potential consumers of a high value product or one off purchase they want to know just a little more about you than a Facebook page allows before parting with their cold hard cash. And fair enough. And whilst you might expect that the younger generation would be the least bothered about websites in this world of tech savviness, actually websites are MORE important to millennials than they are to older people (who still tend to go on local word of mouth through real world networks - how old fashioned) and to whom websites aren't really important at all.

2. Targetted Marketing capability

In the days of Google adwords its possible to target your advertising incredibly cost effectively, but only if you have a site to direct that traffic to. You can also analyse who is coming and going, how long they're staying and what they're doing in a way that you just can't with a Facebook page which enables you to have better business intelligence than your competition.

3. Because it levels the playing field between big players and small players

Gone are the days when large corporations with huge advertising budgets could play Goliath to the small start up's David! When you have a well-designed website nobody knows if your turnover is £20k or £2m or £200m. All they are connecting with is your brand, service and message. You can be a global business while sitting in your garage in Croydon. A Facebook page? Not so much.

4. It helps keep potentially explosive customer service issues off social media (at least in the first instance) and gives you the chance to respond and never let it escalate to this level. Most people prefer to write straight to the actual company if it is easy for them to do so and as long as they are handed well and sensitively won't then ever go public. Now that alone is a great reason to have a website.

5. Because your website never sleeps

I often get approaches for new sites while I'm sleeping. How cool is that! Just because I have a website up and am contactable through it in a structured way that gives people a bit more guidance than an open ended Facebook contact sheet and this helps them have confidence to get in touch.

6. Because you've realised that you can reach people with a website that you would find hard to reach otherwise.

Lots of older people aren't on social networking tools but are probably internet savvy.

7. Because you write a blog and want to commercialise it

Several of our historical clients have been bloggers who wanted to launch sites retrospectively to capitalise on the brand they had created which were now attracting the interest of third parties.

8. Because you own your name as a domain and its doing nothing.

ALWAYS buy your name as a domain name if you can - you never know when it will come in handy (or when someone else might turn it into a porn site). You may as well put something up now there are so many freeware packages you can use right?

9. Because it's a vanity project.

There's no shame in this being the reason - just be clear it's the reason! Don't expect it to suddenly start generating you lots of money if you haven't set a design objective that that is the action you want people to be taking as a result of interacting with your site!

You fancy showing the world either who you are or what you do (or both), If you just fancy creating a website for fun, I say go for it. Have a laugh, do it yourself or at low cost and enjoy it. Don't spend ages pontificating or filling briefs about what you are trying to achieve with your site in terms of views, sales, awareness or any of the other marketing terms I generally try to ask my clients bout. These projects aren't about reaching target markets, driving sales or connecting with people, they're about putting an image out there for the sake of it. Good on you!

10. Because you need it as a creative way to show a potential stockist, retail customer, investor something that looks 'real'.

We love working on these ones - creating the vision of a live start up in the form of a website to show people and get excitement/buy in/engagement.

The ideal way to create a website is in the context of your larger marketing mix - and leveraging it in the context of the other media you will be using to reach and communicate with clients and potential clients. But this isn't always possible or practical and is a big part of the reason I created cherrysites - to give small entepreneurs with limited budgets the chance to have a simple but powerful presence to use as a base for their other online activities.

So in 10 years will websites be a thing of the past? Who knows. For now, for me, they are the new advertising - your own TV station where you have a captive audience you can entertain, enchant and engage and who aren't about to accidentally get sidetracked because someone's just posted a cute cat video......

So to steal Cadbury's great crème egg line - How will you use yours?

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