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The idea of an expensive, professionally designed website is a big undertaking for a small business. It is a big project, and for many it is difficult to justify the expense. More than one-third of small business owners surveyed feel like their operation is too small to justify a website.
The reality is that businesses of all sizes need to have a digital presence, and a website is the foundation of that presence. If you have been slow to adopt this idea, get on the train, because it is leaving the station fast. Now you not only need a website, but it needs to be mobile-friendly, voice-search compatible, and loaded with carefully optimized and relevant graphics.
The digital age has irreversibly changed consumer behavior. Today when a consumer is interested in a product, he or she will consult dozens of blogs on the topic, browse social media platforms, and perform local searches for businesses that offer that product. Many will end up purchasing online, and for those that still go into a store, they have already searched about it online before grabbing the car keys.
By not having a digital presence, your small business is giving the impression that you are no longer in business. Or, at least that you no longer want to be in business. To put it plainly – having a high quality, functional website is no longer a choice. It is a requirement to thrive.
1 – Win them Over with the First Impression
Gone are the days where shoppers wander in your door and see your business for the first time. Shoppers today have already vetted all of the competition based on what they could find online before even considering a trip to the store.
In the digital world, you have less than two seconds to win them over. The overall attractiveness of your website design and functionality of your website are the first things that visitors notice and use to judge the value of your business.
The quality or value that you offer never gets a chance to shine with many visitors leaving before they have even laid eyes on what you are offering. In a way, good website design is another form of attractive packaging that generates interest and leads potential customers to generate more sales.
Unless you really have a way with design aesthetics and you have the digital-know-how, hire a quality website designer. The cost will be worth the investment.
2 – Digital Success Needs a Strategy
So you are on board that you need a website. But will any website do? How simple or complex does your website need to be in order to bring customers into the store? The answer is always to keep it as simple as possible.
A simple but effective website used as part of a planned strategy to help customers find your business online and drive them through a sales funnel will be the most useful marketing investment that you make this year.
The number one step that most businesses miss when building a website is answering the very basic question, ‘what do you want them to do when they get here?’ When you spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on quality web design, you want that investment to work. Building a strategy that defines your goals and ties those goals to activities both online and off will drive the success of your website.
No business is too small to have a digital presence and no business is too small to need a digital marketing strategy.
3 – Search Engine Optimization is a Moving Target
As of January 2020, there were more than 1.74 billion websites on the internet. That makes you a very small needle in a very big haystack to get found in. Luckily there are professionals that can help optimize your website so that search engines can find it easily
The problem with search engine optimization (SEO) for laypeople is that what the search engines prioritize is constantly evolving and changing. One minute it is all about sharing content in 140 characters or less and the very next it is about how well artificial intelligence can match your website with elements in pictures.
You have a business to run, so while you are doing you, hire someone who is an expert in digital trends and search engine optimization to handle these details for you. A good quality web designer will have depths of knowledge in SEO practices and will be able to carry all elements of your website design and use it to align with current SEO trends and best practices.
4 – Cookie Cutter Doesn’t Cut It
There are dozens of DIY web design services across the web. Anyone with minimal computer skills can put up a basic five-page website. But there is a difference between having a website and having a website that works.
Your business is unique; even compared to dozens of competitors in the same niche, there is a unique aspect to your services or goods. A custom web design will leverage what is unique to your business and highlight it so that you stand out as memorable among the dozens of other business pages and blogs that shoppers view in the process of buying.
5 – Spending More Saves More
The number one rule of frugality applies to digital marketing, more so than in any other area. Designing a high-quality website takes significant time, resources and knowledge. Unless web design or digital marketing is your business, these are areas that will take you more time to become minimally proficient in than it will take someone who is an expert to complete the project.
Do you want to spend time learning and making costly mistakes or get past your sticker shock and make an investment in success? Whether you choose to make this an inhouse project or hire a contractor, there are a few basic rules to make this partnership successful.
Don’t hire any web designer, or even just a web designer that you like.
Hire a web designer who is easy to work with, able to provide a quality portfolio with references, and is knowledgeable in all areas of web design, SEO, and digital marketing.
Don’t sign up with an agency that makes you fit into their boxes.
One of the common business models for web design and digital marketing services is the ‘choose a plan’ model where you pay ‘x’ dollars for ‘x’ web pages. This is the worst way to go about it because it basically ensures that your business or project will not be unique. It is an indication of low-skill designers putting websites together for an agency in a cookie-cutter format with no flexibility to do what you need.
Don’t hire a designer or consultant without a good consultation.
If a portfolio blows you away, the feeling of excitement can cloud your judgment. Always schedule a consultation before making a financial commitment to a prospective contractor. The face-to-face will give you an opportunity to make sure that you can work with this person and that they can back up their experience and skill.
If the consultation raises red flags, walk away.
The entire point of the consultation is to explore the possibility of working together. Common red flags like complaining about previous clients or not listening to what you want for your business are only indicators of a bumpy road to come. Now is the time to be picky, so walk away now if you get an uneasy feeling.
The Takeaway on Good Web Design
There is no small business open today that can afford to skimp on digital marketing. Many social media platforms make it easy to put something out there, but only businesses with a dedicated website are taken seriously by consumers.
Having a website does not mean that you have to offer e-commerce. It simply means that you are interested in serving customers the way that they want to be served. A good digital marketing strategy will use a dedicated website as an anchor with multiple avenues leading consumers to that website.
Instead of looking for the least expensive way to put your business on the web, consider it an investment. Partner with a skilled and knowledgeable designer who will help you craft a strategy and then optimize every aspect of that strategy to work together in harmony
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