I recently came across an old article about the importance of having a website for small businesses – or really any sized business. The article was written in October, 2004, more than 15 years ago. I read it with low expectations of finding anything relevant. I mean, website best practices have changed dramatically since 2004! On top of that - no one had an iphone (they didn't exist) and myspace was about the extent of social media. So I was anticipating a good chuckle about the antiquated information I thought I would be reading.
Turns out, the joke was on me. Surprisingly, much of the information provided by the author, Tim Knox for Entrepreneur online, is still pretty much spot on with the advice when it comes to the importance of a website for your business. Yes, there are more recent developments that really impact your website’s accessibility, such as responsive design and search engine optimization, but generally speaking the very premise of this article holds true today.
In 2004, Tim wrote:
One of the great things about the internet is that it has leveled the playing field when it comes to competing with the big boys. As mentioned, you have one shot at making a good first impression. With a well-designed site, your little operation can project the image and professionalism of a much larger company. The inverse is also true. I've seen many big company websites that were so badly designed and hard to navigate that they completely lacked professionalism and credibility. Good for you, too bad for them.
Tim goes on to say:
…..if you don't have a website, you're losing business to other companies that do.
Here's the exception to my rule: It's actually better to have no website at all than to have one that makes your business look bad. Your site speaks volumes about your business. It either says, "Hey, look, we take our business so seriously that we have created this wonderful site for our customers!" or it screams, "Hey, look, I let my 10-year-old nephew design my site. Good luck finding anything!"
Your website is an important part of your business. Make sure you treat it as such.
I couldn’t agree more, Tim. As a Project Manager at Envative, I've helped many clients working with my Design team on development or redesign of their websites. We see sites that were probably developed about the time this original article was written and not touched since! I certainly understand how keeping your website up to date can fall to the wayside, especially for smaller businesses where owners are wearing multiple hats. However, what I've come to realize is that most business owners have no idea that, if your site is outdated, its very likely doing more harm than good. Seriously - having no website may be the lesser of two evils when compared to having a bad or very outdated website. That said, every business really needs to have a website!
This is one of the main reasons that Envative is getting ready to host a free informational webinar on this very topic. The “Is Your Website Hurting Your Business” Webinar will be held on Tuesday, May 1st at 10:30 (EST).
I think the folks that are able to join will really find it eye-opening, not to mention highly useful in thinking about company growth. Feel free to join us! In the meantime, owners - please take stock in the importance of revisiting your site - with the eyes of your beholders. I encourage you to do it now! Learn More.