My friend and I were chatting a bit about how his business is going. He recently started a business that offers some nice premium perks. I asked him when he was thinking about having a website built because he’s been doing so well. He told me that he’s been so busy that he hasn’t gotten around to it. He asked me, “do I need a website for my business?”
Although you don’t need a website to start a business, you should build one sooner than later. It is recommended you at least purchase your domain and forward it to a business social page, such as a Facebook™ Page. That way, when you’re ready, you can build a website with the domain you already own. Not doing at least this will leave money on the table over time.
You may think that you don’t need a website or social presence, but odds are you may be wrong. After surveying over 60 locals across three cities in the suburbs of Los Angeles, California, the overwhelming majority want some kind of online presence, with a website being on top. You can see the data of the study at the bottom of this page.
Why Do I Need a Website For My Business?
Before websites were a thing, consumers expected business owners to have a business card. Was it necessary? Probably not, but a great deal of consumers would feel more comfortable knowing that someone they were doing business with had a business card because it would make their business look legitimate. A website, among a few other things, are now the business cards of our day. But what does the consumer think?
It’s got to at least have a website, I could care less about social media but I feel if they don’t even have a website, how legit and on top of their business can they be? ????P.S. from City A
You may be asking yourself, “but what about a social presence? I’m on [this social network] and [that social network]!” Having a social presence does help and I will go over that on another post, but the website is almost always on top. Again, it’s not the end-all and be-all of your marketing efforts, but your consumer over all does want you to have one.
For me, a decent, informative website trumps a fb or IG presence. I do read yelp reviews, but take them with a grain of salt, based on the content of the review.M.M. from City A
What Kind of Website Should I Have?
If you’ve never built or had a website, you may be wondering where to start. Many other professionals have their own versions of what kind of websites exist, as do I. Ultimately, I believe there are three types of websites that you can choose from.
When asking yourself, “do I need a website for my business,” consider that there are many kinds of websites, and each type solve a problem (or set of problems) that your business may need. In the beginning, when you first start, the most common website people start with is the Informative Website. Depending on your needs, you may also benefit of an eCommerce website where you sell products or services. Finally, there are custom website solutions that can fit the exact needs of your business.
Let’s start with the first one and tackle them one-by-one.
The Informative Website
There are a lot of definitions out there on what an informative website is. Over the years, I’ve come to adopt this as my own definition:
Yes I would feel more confident because you can go on a website for the particular business and find out more about it, what’s offered, prices, etc. Reviews., etc.S.M. from City C
The biggest difference between an informative website and any other type of website is that you don’t sell on it. When you add the ability to buy things, it becomes an eCommerce website and we’ll go over that soon.
Although you don’t sell anything on this type of website, that’s not to say it can help your bottom line. Using blog posts, free downloads, and newsletters can greatly help attract new customers if used correctly. How do you do it correctly? The answer to that question can be its own set of posts, but the short answer is testing until you find what works in your situation.
Your informative website can be a powerful tool to help attract your customers and have them give you a chance to make the sell. It’s a way of being transparent within your business and many people are looking for that. Consumers need to trust you, and they’ll only do business if a sense of trust is first established. This can be using a website, or having them come in, or talking with someone on the phone. Your website is a way to establish trust.
I wouldn’t say I find a website or facebook page confidence inspiring, but it does help me learn more about businesses I pass while on errands without taking much time out of my day. I definitely am more likely to remember and use their services if I can find a website for them.S.Y. from City B
The eCommerce Website
If you would like to sell on your website, then your informative website upgrades to an eCommerce Website.
An eCommerce Website offers the consumer a way to purchase your product, service, subscription, or membership directly from your website. If you sell goods, then a means for shipping would be included in that. There are many ways to add eCommerce functionality to your website, primarily using third-party applications (known as add-ons, plugins, etc) that enable the ability to securely accept payment on your website and fulfill the purchase.
I’d love restaurants even more if they had their very own delivery drivers, I hate using the delivery services. They charge way too much.S.F. from City C
eCommerce on a website is a convenience for the consumer. The quote above is an example that someone would use a restaurant website to purchase food to have it delivered. When you have this type of service built in, a restaurant can save money from needing to use other services such as Uber Eats and GrubHub.
Selling clothing, tickets, subscription boxes, etc can all be started at a lower price point than having a custom website built. For example, a restaurant can use the third-party WordPress plugin “GloriaFood” to build your menu with a way for a consumer to purchase meals that goes directly to your kitchen printer once the payment is accepted. “WooCommerce” is a great way to start selling goods and downloads.
You have a lot of options when starting to sell on your website. If your budget does not permit hiring a professional, do your research and experiment with different technologies until you find the one that’s easiest for you to learn and implement.
Earlier I mentioned a custom website. Everything I’ve mentioned up until this point could be build on free platforms such as WordPress (which is what I recommend. If you’re wondering how you can start a WordPress website, check out this video). A custom website, however, is a whole different beast. Like its name suggests, it’s a fully custom solution for your business.
The Custom Website
Typically used when a business, startup or otherwise, has funding, a custom solution may be an option should you require custom functionality, such as a Social Network.
A Custom Website is a solution that is used to create specific functionality that is based on the needs of the business that is building it. Although many advanced functionality may be commercially available, a custom website gives the business owner the exact control it needs to build it to their unique requirements. An example of this are Social Networks. Each one (Facebook™, Pinterest, LinkedIn, etc) has unique requirements that cannot be replicated by an over-the-counter pre-built solution. Another example of custom websites are Uber Eats and GrubHub.
It’s rare that a business owner would take the time to learn the intricacies of code, as it would greatly detract from their day-to-day business responsibilities. Solutions like WordPress can solve the need for the majority of newer and established businesses alike. Does your business need a custom solution? It would be advisable to at least consult with a website professional as I can’t know your particular businesses needs.
However, knowing that this may be a solution for you can be of benefit later as your needs expand and as your budget increases.
The Study Data
This survey was conducted in May of 2021 and had over 60 participants. To qualify, all participants had to show a preference in their response. There were no options given so that they had an unaltered response based on their own preferences.
The Participant Breakdown
The poll was conducted on three medium-sized cities in the suburbs of Los Angeles, CA with a combined population (as of 2019) of 101,128 residents. Those polled were across four groups with a combined 32,000 members. Over 60 people responded to the poll. I separated the group data to show the full breakdown.
|City C – Group 1||18%|
|City C – Group 2||13.1%|
The Participant Results
During this study, I did not expect some of these responses. For example, I did not anticipate that there were a select number that actually visit the location without consulting reviews, other people, or the website. This is important because it shows that people still want a personal experience. There is a lot you can extrapolate from this information.
|Word of Mouth||4.5%|
Note: “No Response” were from people that responded to my question but did not specify an option or their answer was too vague to fit in the above options.
Below is the breakdown of men versus women and their age group based on their social profile.
|Age Group||25 – 60|
Start Your Website Today!
I’m always going to defer to what the majority of the consumer prefers. As you can see from the data above, having a website and a relevant social presence is essential in todays age.
Building a website may be tedious to the beginner, but there are ways to make it easier. If you use a service like Wordify, you can build a website for free to test before paying it goes public. At the very least, I highly recommend you purchase the domain (get a discount using the link) and forward it to your social profile of choice. Doing that will give you the ability to hold on to that domain and use it for your website once you’re ready. Otherwise, build an informative website so the majority of people will find the information they’re looking easier and faster.
Updated April 30, 2022
Formerly Titled, “Does My Business Need a Website? Consumers Respond!”