Why a website matters to a small business.
It takes a special kind of person to become a successful entrepreneur. You must have a willingness to juggle many different aspects of a business, flexibility, and resilience in the face of serious challenges, including limited time. That last factor is a serious issue – many entrepreneurs simply don’t have time on their side.
In fact, a New York Enterprise report survey found that around 33 percent of business owners work over 50 hours per week. Unfortunately, the time they pour into simply running their businesses sometimes keeps them from making changes that will help their businesses run more effectively.
Take websites, for example. Often, we see business owners struggle to create polished websites that live up to their customers’ expectations. The rush to get a site up often results in a low-quality experience, including pages riddled with incomplete content, dummy text, default stock images that don’t match the brand and broken links, among other issues.
Before publishing a website, here are three things to consider.
Website Quality Matters
For most businesses, having a website is essential. Even businesses that aren’t selling online need a website for the purposes of establishing brand recognition and legitimacy. And businesses that aren’t selling online might want to reconsider; the digital shift in 2020 and 2021 demonstrated that a variety of business models can be adapted to an online format.
Many businesses have made that move, and eCommerce is now a highly competitive space. That means business owners building an eCommerce site need think through everything from how their website looks, to how navigable, accessible and secure it is. It only takes about 50 milliseconds for visitors to form an opinion about your website that determines whether they stay on the page or back out.
Entrepreneurs should make sure their website truly represents and validates their businesses. They must hone their messaging to represent their brand, ensure a smooth navigation experience and develop an eye-catching look and feel. A half-baked website (think: missing images and product descriptions and lackluster content) will lead to customers clicking the back button in a hurry. Data shows that 38 percent of people will stop engaging with an unattractive website and half of customers will abandon their shopping carts if pages don’t load fast enough.
Making a great first impression with a website is important, and that means that website quality isn’t something an entrepreneur can afford to skimp on. Establishing a solid website is also just the first step; businesses should continue evaluating their existing digital assets — website, digital storefront and social media — and refresh them as needed to retain existing customers and attract new ones.
Professional Help May Be the Way to Go
With dozens of ways to buy online today, new businesses need to gain a competitive edge, and leveraging a professional service to build a strong website is a great way to do that. It’s a fast and efficient way for business owners to get a high quality and attractive storefront up and running in minutes. A poorly designed and optimized website leads almost 50 percent of users to go with competitors instead, meaning that in today’s oversaturated and competitive market, the digital customer experience (CX) can’t be ignored or undervalued.
For the busy entrepreneur, collaborating with website professionals is a game changer, and an investment that can save them a lot of time and money in the long run. Beyond just creating a visually attractive, easy-to-navigate website, these experts can assist with marketing and searchability, with a focus on Search Engine Optimization (SEO). From increased website traffic to highly engaged customers, the benefits of a good SEO strategy are far-reaching. The pros can help entrepreneurs manage everything from keyword variations and KPI tracking to audits that help find orphaned pages and missing links.
Entrepreneurs have a tendency to want to go it alone. This independent streak is a wonderful quality that can lead to innovation and out-of-the-box thinking, but when it comes to a business’s web presence, it’s sometimes best to reach out for help and leave it to the pros.
Websites Need to Evolve Over Time
There can be a tendency for entrepreneurs to treat their website as just another checklist item when starting a new venture. Once the website is up and they can check it off the list, they move on to other, more pressing items. But to maintain a truly effective web presence, business owners need to keep their websites updated and leverage them as a proactive tool, rather than a static landing page used solely for informational purposes.
Leaving a website unchanged for months on end is like never changing out the displays in a retail storefront; it’s a strategy that’s unlikely to attract new customers or engage existing ones. Rather than adopting a ‘build it and forget it’ mentality, business owners should continually look to optimize and enhance their website and its content.
Seasonal content and design updates show customers that a business is active and up with the times and helps them capture the attention of first-time and return website visitors alike. Whether it’s a one-time banner on the homepage announcing a big sale, updated copy, new images or a message from the owner addressing customers directly and detailing what’s new on the site, even small changes can make a business website stand out.
Then there are the housekeeping items, like continually monitoring search engine rankings and making SEO adjustments, keeping SSL certificates up to date, managing inventory and responding to customer inquiries submitted via the site’s contact form. All of these elements are critical to maintaining a positive website experience.
A Worthy Investment
If this all seems like a lot to manage – much less continually improve – it is. But entrepreneurs aren’t the type to back down from a challenge. And given the substantial benefits that an effective web presence can deliver for a small business, it’s clear that the challenge of building a great website is well worth taking on.
So, for all the entrepreneurs and small business owners out there who are short on time, and long on ambition: don’t leave your website by the wayside. Whether you go DIY or lean on the pros, give your online presence the attention it deserves on an ongoing basis, and reap the rewards for years to come.
Karen Dixon is the Senior Vice President of Marketing of Web.com.