24 Oct Are You Ready For a Website?
The short, real, and honest answer to this question is I don’t know.
If you are already busy from referrals, do not sell a physical product or service, or simply don’t want to expand your business to include additional employees and/or services, you may not necessarily need a website. My uncle has been in business for over 30 years, successfully, with no website and no social media interactions whatsoever; he’s just that good at what he does, and people keep referring new business to him. I believe it’s still a good thing to have a place on the web where people can view your services, prices, and portfolio without having to bother you over the phone, but that’s perhaps because I am phone-awkward and can better or more quickly answer questions via e-mail due to my social anxieties.
The last thing I ever want to do as a web designer who sells web design services is to make a person or business feel like they absolutely NEED to have a website when they’re actually doing just fine on their own with an Etsy page, Facebook, Pinterest, or Instagram. As someone who has a website and attempts to utilize it to its full potential, I can tell you that having one of your own that’s designed and developed properly is a great thing if you own a business of any size, and if you’re willing to put in a little bit of work to keep it updated and functioning. It gives people a place to go and learn about who you are and what you do/sell (amongst other things, like reviewing your terms, retrieving forms, or reading helpful blogs) without having to call and ask you 100 questions, which you likely don’t have time to answer… because you’re busy running an awesome business.
If you decide you’d like to have a website, but do not want to use social media applications for your business, (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc.) you may have to do some fairly extensive SEO work or pay a good chunk of money to have it done for you. This might include maintaining a blog, utilizing an e-mail campaign, and/or handing out a lot of physical promotional materials, such as business cards and fliers, in order for people to even realize that your business exists.
If you feel like you’re ready to take the plunge and invest in a website for your personal or business matters, here are some things that will help you prepare for the work ahead, and achieve your goals in an efficient manner:
1. A Bio/About Us Page
This is one of the hardest things for most people to tackle, but my advice is to just be real; be yourself. Be the thing that nobody else is: Y-O-U. Write in your own voice, and give interesting factoids. If you write your own content, you’re more likely to come across as relatable. (For the record, I copy-edit, in the form of grammar and spelling, but I never attempt to change anyone’s “voice”.)
If you think images are optional, you are dead wrong. If you don’t have any photographs, videos, audio, etc., let your web designer know immediately. I have provided all of the above for clients, and it is all much appreciated when you are aware of the need beforehand. My services are affordable compared to others, but if for some reason you can’t find it in the budget to hire me as the principal photographer, it is totally okay to do some of these things yourself. My professional advice is to check with your designer to make sure that your format allows for proper DPI, format, and pixels, or that you have acquired the appropriate license to use the images you’ve found. (aka: Google Images is not a free-for-all. You must license photographs, or use royalty-free images to avoid being sued by the photographer or his/her representative.)
This includes, but is not limited to: prices (e-commerce), images (products/sliders/etc.), text content (services), blogs, additional media such as forms (pdf or doc), and keywords if you are interested in SEO and Google rankings. So many things go into making a website function correctly, remain truthful and relevant, and look beautiful in the process. Content is still king, and being prepared can accelerate the process. Also, unless otherwise discussed, your web designer is not responsible for generating text content for your website; not providing this content will delay the completion and publishing of your website.
4. Domain + Hosting
This might go without saying for some — and be an eye-opener for others — but you cannot have a website without a domain name and web hosting. I’ve written a blog about this, as well, for those who aren’t certain of what this means. Domain names are particularly critical; they will go on your business cards and promotional material, so keep them succinct and relevant whenever possible. Hosting is a non-negotiable, too. If you don’t have a place to store your site files, you don’t have a website. If you do not pay for these things on time annually, your website is in jeopardy of being taken down, and you may lose all of your site files.
This might be one of the more important things to harness before attempting to build a website. What are your core values as a person and for your business? What do you intend to accomplish and how do you plan to do so? They’re weighted questions, but they’re valuable to ask, and the answers are absolutely pertinent to the results you intend to achieve. If you can’t answer these questions, you may struggle to define your business in a physical form, such as a website or even branding materials like your logo, fliers, and business cards.
I’m always happy to answer any of your questions. Don’t hesitate to contact me, by any medium! I will be honest, and while you may not “like” what you hear — which is okay — I will be clear and I will definitely give you the tools you need to move forward — with or without a website.