Every business deserves a really great website. But what if you run a small business and don’t think the site of your dreams is within your budget?
I was asked recently at a networking event by another attendee:
Is no website better than a bad website?
An interesting question, and the answer isn’t black and white.
First, let’s take a look at some reasons why people might want a website, before getting into the no website vs bad website debate.
Why have a website at all?
People have websites for all sorts of purposes:
• A local business might use theirs much like a storefront: showcasing work and enticing customers to purchase goods or services.
• Other sites might act as a hub of information, say for a blog, community group, or upcoming event. In this case a website is a cost-effective way to keep people informed, and perhaps earn an income from sponsorship or advertising.
• An e-commerce site will underpin every aspect of an online sales business. Acting as the storefront, central information source and salesperson – these sites shoulder a lot of responsibility.
So in each of these scenarios what’s the better choice: no website or a bad website?
Promoting your local business
For a local business – perhaps a café, a designer, an accountant, or something else entirely – a website’s purpose is to increase business by getting your name out there and encouraging people to use your services.
But if your site’s bad, what could that do to your business?
At best, it won’t bring in any extra clients: a pointless investment of your time and money.
At worst – and here’s the killer – it’ll actively put people off your business. People you’ve met at networking event who were just checking you out before contacting you.
That’s because websites serve not just as signposts but also as confidence builders.
More and more, customers will check up on a company’s online presence to decide if they’re the best/cheapest/coolest.
If your website’s clunky, slow, unappealing to the eye or has poor content: potential customers will lose trust that you can deliver the high-quality service you’re so proud of.
On the other hand, if you have no website at all, there’s a huge pool of people who won’t know you exist.
Guess where the crowds will head first if your competitors invested in an engaging, attractive and searchable website?
Keeping people informed
The main goal of an event website or blog is to share information, so getting rid of the site altogether isn’t a viable option. How will anyone know what’s happening? What’s a blog without a website?
But you could opt for a sub-par site, right?
Again, if your site’s difficult to use, it doesn’t work on all devices, or is impossible to find through a Google search – it’ll be a waste of your precious time and investment.
There’s little point having a website that no one wants to look at, or can’t find in the first place.
Selling with e-commerce
In our final scenario, the online sales business, having no website is a deal breaker.
Here your whole livelihood relies on a strong web presence, so an e-commerce website is quite clearly a necessity.
But trust is also a big factor – no one wants to hand over their personal information or credit card details with nothing but a dubious website as the middle man.
Just like a local business or blog, if your site’s too difficult to use (or is generally unpleasant), potential customers will simply go elsewhere.
When the state of your website is the difference between your business succeeding or failing, it’s a very big deal.
While a high-quality, good-looking and functional e-commerce website may sound like it’d cost the Earth – it doesn’t have to.
To get the most bang for your buck, it’s important to team up with someone who knows how to build what you need, while also understanding your budget and limitations.
Of course there’s often crossover with each of these types of sites: many local businesses may also run an online store to sell more products; event organisers might sell tickets online; and an e-commerce site could run a blog to drive traffic.
But the common theme is: every business, everywhere, benefits from a strong web presence.
So is there ever a case when a bad website will do the job?
The answer is: no, not really.
A good website is an investment in the success of your business.
Your website is one of the most practical and cost-effective marketing tools available – as long as it’s done right. And it’s the heart of all kinds of extra marketing options: from social media, to email marketing, to organic search, to pay per click.
So we should all strive for easy-to-use, accessible and beautiful websites.
But what if you don’t have a huge budget?
It certainly doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your website altogether. Web developers are great at prioritising the most important parts of a site to keep within your budget.
You don’t have to settle for no website. And you don’t have to settle for a bad one either.
If in doubt, get in touch with Callia Web for guidance. You’ll be surprised how affordable a professional website can be, and how much easier it’ll make running your business.
What do you think? Can you think of any circumstances when a bad website is better than no website or visa versa?