This article is part of a series created in partnership with SiteGround. Thank you for supporting the partners who make SitePoint possible.
In 2017, any business that desires new customers or clients needs a website. Almost all of your customers will use the internet to find businesses before they try anything else.
If a person is new to an area and wants to find coffee shops, dentists, doctors, daycares, or mechanics, what do they do? They search online. Those searches take so little time that a business must be prepared to stand out, and capture the potential customer’s attention in the fleeting moments that they have.
A potential customer flipping through Google’s mapped results might ignore the first two businesses for not having websites to look at at all. They tap on the third business’s website only to find that it does not work well on their phone, so they move on to number four. Just like that, the three businesses closest to the customer have been written off due to their lack of a useful, up-to-date, mobile-friendly website.
The website for any business needs to be professional and practical. It needs to contain the right information to convince potential customers to make an order, call, or come visit. It needs to be consistent with your signage, your elevator pitch, and your brochures, but it also needs to be better than all of those things. It needs to drive traffic to your business, even if you don’t sell anything online.
It needs to convince people that this business has the answers to the problem they’re trying to solve.
More than being useful, a website is a point of pride for a business. The state of the site’s design, mobile friendliness, loading speed, and accuracy of its information may not be an issue to the business owner, employees, or regular customers — but it definitely matters to customers.
Regardless of your situation, you need this virtual signage and information online. Regardless of whether your entire business is conducted on the Internet as a software startup, or your mom and pop restaurant serves local clientele from a well-known, rustic location and you have no online services at all. Either way, you still benefit from the traffic and the good reputation that your business can gain from a website done right.
A Good Return on Investment
In many cases, building a good website is a ridiculously easy choice to make. Take a look at the examples below to understand just why that is.
Case Study #1
You own a local mechanic’s business. You’ve been quoted the cost of an informational website at $2,000. This website will be a responsive brochure website, including information on services, testimonials, contact details, and lots of imagery. But you balk at the price — after all, you aren’t in a high margin business, and you don’t have much money to spare. However, you need to consider the return on investment.
In 2015, AAA estimated the annual maintenance cost of owning a single vehicle was about $766. That means that every customer driven your way by a website can grant you another $766 in revenue, on average, per year.
If the website produces three new clients in the first year, you’ll already have covered the cost of the website. Convert one visitor per year after that, and you can cover ongoing maintenance and hosting fees. Any other conversions after that are pure profit!
Perhaps not all of that revenue is profit. After all, there are costs to providing services beyond that of your website. But many families own multiple vehicles, so you may double or triple that revenue each time you convert a household.
With that data in mind, why wouldn’t you want a website?
Case Study #2
Not convinced? Let’s take a look at an interesting type of business — wedding venues. If there was ever a business that needs a website, this is it. Couples scour the internet for images, as many as they can find, of various locations, before going to visit them in person. Without a good visual website, your venue may never make that shortlist!
The average expenditure on a wedding venue, according to WeddingStats is $1,993. If this website also cost $2,000, one or two customers driven to your website will pay for it in revenue, and when considering actual profit, it will only take a negligible uptick in business to pay for the website.
And then it will start paying you.
Of course, these examples do not even touch on businesses that use websites as sales platforms. In those cases, it’s even easier to justify spending on web development and services. Your website sales are directly affected by the quality of the online customer experience, and that translates directly to revenue gained or lost.
Finally, consider the business that doesn’t need new customers. Believe it or not, sometimes this happens. Take the wedding venue. Perhaps it’s booked six months out at all times, and simply doesn’t need an influx of customers. However, if it’s steadily booked well in advance, it can make more money — venues in high demand merit higher rates. At the same time, that raises the competitiveness bar, and in order for people to consider this more-expensive venue, they will need to be convinced before they call for more information.
So, What Does a Business Really Need in a Website?
A Domain Name
Domain names are purchased from domain name registration services (Like GoDaddy, NameCheap, or Hover) for $10-60 per year. Your domain name is the address that users will type in to reach your website.
You need your website built! Usually, you’ll want it built on a Content Management System — a platform that will enable you to make small updates to your site’s content whenever you want to do so. This stage will usually be the most expensive step, but it is a one-time cost paid to a web developer.
Hosting is paid per year or per month, and is the “home” of your website — it’s the server space on which your website’s files reside.
There are many options for hosting, many of which you may not need for a simple small business website. Hosting can cost anywhere from a few dollars a month to hundreds of dollars a year, depending on what your site needs. Most simple sites are very easy to host, but do not underestimate the value of quality hosting services — guarantees for your website’s uptime, and the level of service and support provided when things go wrong, are very important.
Our preferred web host of choice is SiteGround for its speed, security, support and geeky extras (staging, Git integration and premium backups) that developers will love.
SiteGround offers a wide range of plans for small, growing and very big websites. Rest assured that you won’t have to worry about switching hosts as your website grows.
Maintenance, Updates, and Backups
You may also wish to pay someone a monthly or yearly fee to perform platform and plugin updates, make regular backups, and perform other minor maintenance on your website. Some of these duties can be taken on internally, by an employee who already updates your website.
If you don’t have that option, you can easily outsource this to the developer who built the site, or to others. Security threats to websites never stop growing, and it is important to keep your site secure. Even if your site does not handle user information or payments, you still want it to remain secure and safe from accidental or intentional damage.
Businesses that use SiteGround may not need to worry about paying extra for server and software maintenance. SiteGround handles many of these concerns — it offers automatic core and plugin updates for WordPress, automated daily backups, and 24/7 support to provide assistance above and beyond fixing server issues.
Wrapping It Up
No matter the industry, no matter the situation, any business can almost assuredly use a good website.
The question really is what the business needs out of their website, and what goals they have for their web presence. The site should be built to cater to those goals – providing the best shopping cart experience, the easiest menu to view and order from, or easy comparison of rates against competitors.
Whatever the need, the website should exist to match it. If that can be done, the value of a great web presence for the business is all but a forgone conclusion.