Web sites: OK, so Now What?

By Beacon Staff

So after four weeks of blustering about websites, I thought it appropriate to close this series (and you thought it was closed last week, ha!) with two pieces of information:

What to do next, and How to figure out who will do it.

Before I do that, I need to address some great feedback I received from readers who told me that they don’t want a website and don’t need a website because their services are booked out two weeks in advance all the time.

Even if that’s you – a simple one page site will do a couple of things:

It’ll make you easier for your (sometimes forgetful) existing clients to find you. Worst case, you can use that one page site to register for Google Local (it’s free) and show up at the top of the search engines when someone types in “Kalispell whatever-you-do” in Google.

It isn’t enough to depend on the Yellow Pages. Yellow Page listings do indeed get pushed to the web, but they show up in rather unusable mass directory sites that most people simply won’t click on (or if they do, they won’t be able to find you because those directory sites are not very user-friendly). They sure don’t show up at the very top of search listings like a Google Local entry does.

One reader noted that SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives) mentions on the score.org website that websites can be a substantial drain on a company’s resources.

The same can be said about a lack of new and regularly returning customers.

So let me rephrase my “You need a website, period” comment: Unless you have more than enough business to keep you busy all the time, and it’s been that way for a long time, and you have an established mechanism that brings you clients over and over again, you need a website.

Even if it’s just a one page site.

A website doesn’t replace your entire marketing portfolio, it supplements it. Likewise, I don’t mean you need to invest $25,000. Some do, but most don’t.

Worst case, here’s what it’ll cost to get a one page website:

  • $9 annually at GoDaddy.com to register the domain name (ie: FlatheadBeacon.com is a domain name).
  • $4 a month ($48 annually) to rent space at a shared web hosting service so that you can run your website. You could spend more, but for a one page site, you don’t need to.
  • An hour or so to put up a simple site with your business name, contact info and a brief blurb about what you do.

That’s it. Not too substantial of an investment and small enough not to blow it off.

If you just need a one page site, then the directions above will suit you fine. You can always build a new site later if the need arises.

The first thing you need to have in mind is what you want your site to accomplish and who it serves. Your clients? Your staff? Both? How will you know whether it is a success or not? Knowing what success will look like is critical. Is it more clients? Less complaints? More profit? More productivity?

If you aren’t sure what you want the site to accomplish, ask other business owners how theirs is strategic, when you get a good answer, ask for a referral to their web designer. Ask that person for strategic advice about what the site can do for your business – keeping the discussions centered around measurable results.

Never forget that you want the site to achieve something, not just sit there and look pretty.

Web designers wear lots of hats: Graphic artist, copywriter, marketer, strategist, technology geek, etc. A very small number are experts in all of these, but most use different people to fill those roles.

After all that, your site has to live on a server somewhere. I don’t recommend using a local web hosting service unless they are using out of the valley servers. Most do just that to take advantage of more redundant communications infrastructure, but ask to be sure.

Want to learn more about Mark or ask him to write about a business, operations or marketing problem? See Mark’s site or contact him at mriffey@flatheadbeacon.com.

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