Most small businesses feel overwhelmed when thinking about websites. There are acronyms, code, technology, marketing terms, developer terms, designer terms, and it all changes so quickly. Every year there’s something new. You’re busy running your business, so how do you keep up and stay competitive?
Focus on the concepts
Focus on the concepts, not the specifics. The web moves so quickly that even the “experts” have a hard time keeping up. In fact, there are many so-called experts teaching outdated techniques that can hurt your business. If you try to focus on the details, you’ll drown. The concepts will always stay relevant. If you’re ever confused just take a step back and look at the big picture.
Concepts to consider
For the rest of this article we’ll cover some of the major concepts to keep in mind when thinking about you business website. This isn’t a definitive list, but it’ll get you thinking in the right direction.
Is this valuable to users?
If you’re talking to a marketer or SEO “expert” and he’s recommending a technique that’s supposed to raise your rankings, but it won’t create anything of value for users or customers, it’s probably not worth it because there are no shortcuts. Creating value is the only real long-term strategy. It’s expensive and time-consuming, but it’s the only thing that works in the long run.
How easy is it to use?
If it sounds complicated, you should probably pass. You want things to be as easy as possible for your customers. Things should just make sense. If you’re getting fancy you’re probably doing it wrong.
This is also a key way to tell if someone is pulling the wool over your eyes. If they can’t explain to you in clear terms and plain language how they’re going to help you, they’re either 1) lying, 2) don’t know what they’re talking about, or 3) using a shortcut or scheme that’ll end up hurting your business.
Will it get the job done?
How well does it carry out your business goals? What’s the purpose of your website? Is your goal to have customers book an appointment? Order a product? Request an estimate? Subscribe to a newsletter? Figure out what your goals are and make sure your website is focused on making them happen. A pretty website is worthless if it doesn’t do its job.
How easy is it to keep up?
You’re a business owner, not a website developer. You should be running your business, not searching Google for how to do X or trying to get a hold of an absentee web designer to fix something. Make sure it’s easy. In fact, you shouldn’t even have to think about it.
Is it secure?
This is your business website, not a personal blog. It’s a business asset and it matters, so protect it. There should be a security guarantee so you’re not left on the hook if something happens. At the very least, ask what kind of security measures are in place to protect your business website. As a small business, managing risk is essential.
What are the upfront and long-term costs?
How much does it cost to have your website designed, built, and maintained? How much will it cost to make it work on mobile devices like smartphones and tablets? How much are design revisions? What about future changes? Can you update your website yourself or do you have to pay someone? How much is tech support if you have a problem? Websites should be redesigned every 2-5 years depending on industry, so how much will that cost you? If it costs as much as the initial design, it’ll cost your business another few thousands dollars. As a basis for comparison, at Just Add Content all the above is included in our standard plan and entire redesigns are only $99.
Do you feel comfortable?
In the end, listen to your gut and do what’s right for your business. If you feel uneasy about something, maybe you should think twice and a solution you’re comfortable with.
Any new technology, technique, or feature must answer the above questions. If it doesn’t pass the test, skip it. Your time and money are too scarce to bother with anything that’s just a gimmick or a passing fad. Focus on what matters. With this you can sift through 99% of the nonsense that people try to sell you.