Are you thinking about building a website? Perhaps you have recently started a new business or project and you want to showcase this online? In this article, we look at some of the pros, cons, and alternatives to having a website.
Building a Website: A Good Investment?
When looking to establish an online presence, a website is probably the first thing that springs to mind and can have lots of advantages. A website can be your digital shop window, allowing customers to find out more about you and your services at any time, from anywhere in the world. It is also possible to look “bigger” or “more established” than you really are with a professional website. This can allow smaller businesses to stand out and compete. With a website, your business can remain online 24/7 and if you have an e-commerce website you could be taking orders from customers throughout the day and night.
So Is There Any Reason Not To Have a Website?
There are of course reasons not to have a website. The initial cost could be an immediate barrier, particularly for a newly established business on a tight budget. Another downside is the need to produce content. For your website to stand out it should ideally have a steady stream of new and engaging content. If you don’t have the skillset or the time, this may be a challenge. Thirdly, websites need ongoing maintenance to run effectively and remain secure. Again, if you don’t have the time or know how to do this, you may need a professional to manage your website.
Should I Build My Own Website?
Building your own website can be a tempting option and may appear the cheaper and easier choice. Hosted platforms such as Wix and Squarespace can provide an out of the box solution for beginners. Most of these vendors have free packages, however, many additional features require a monthly subscription, which can soon become expensive! As your business grows, you may find such services limiting compared to using a more powerful CMS such as WordPress. A web design agency such as ourselves can still offer good value websites that are tailored around the needs of your business. It may be worth consulting a web design professional before making a decision.
What Other Alternatives Are There?
If after weighing up the pros and cons you’ve decided a website isn’t for you, fear not! There are alternatives you can take advantage of:
i. Social Media
Social Media platforms can be a great alternative to a website. Popular platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn provide a way for businesses just starting out to advertise and market their business for free. With the right strategy, you can promote services and products to your target audience and connect with like-minded businesses and individuals. There is even the possibility to connect online shops to certain platforms. Many people find great success with social media as their main advertising stream.
ii. Google My Business
Google My Business is a free service provided by Google and offers a way of registering your business online. By doing this, your businesses details will then appear in special infoboxes when someone searches for you directly, or for a service you provide. These results are prioritised by Google and occupy a big portion of the results page. It can be especially fruitful when someone is nearby and looking for a local service. Google My Business is a great free service that everyone should take advantage of. When optimised correctly this can be an extremely effective form of digital marketing.
iii. Hosted E-commerce
If you’re looking to sell products online, an alternative to your own website is to use a hosted e-commerce platform. Shopify is one of the most notable platforms but others include Etsy, Big Cartel, and Volusion. Most of these do require a monthly subscription, however, some will take a commission from each sale made using the platform. Hosted e-commerce provides a good solution to selling online, easing some of the associated responsibilities like security and data storage. It can also be a good first step whilst you plan building an e-commerce website.
So Does Your Business Need a Website?
So in conclusion, when deciding whether or not to build a website for your business, there’s a lot to take into consideration. Undoubtedly, having a website is definitely the best option for many businesses. However, you need to consider costs, content and maintenance before taking the plunge. Social media, DIY websites and hosted e-commerce platforms all offer cheaper alternatives which may be worth considering. Think about what you want your business to achieve, what your competitors do and how your customers want to interact with you. You can also start small or use a hosted solution to get started and upgrade in the future.
A Fresh Approach To Web Design
At FreshOnline we specialise in building websites for small to medium-sized businesses. We offer starter, premium, and e-commerce website packages tailored to your needs and budget. Our team will always offer friendly advice to help you decide on the best options. Please do not hesitate to get in contact if you think we can help.