Free Websites, What’s the score?Written by Helmut Watterott
The likes of Weebly and Wix claim to help people and businesses get online by giving them an “online presence”. On the face of it, this looks like a really good idea but you need to ask yourself why? We are now living in the 21st century at a time of major recession and financial instability. This has resulted in more and more people (and businesses) being more scrupulous and impatient about how they interact with their peers, family and how they run their day-to-day lives. Why go out if I can get a better deal online, have access to entertainment 24/7 and speak with my family for nothing via facebook at 2am?
The answer to this can be seen walking down any high street across Britain. Small businesses are failing because nobody wants to spend their money and if they do, they want the best deals online. It is cheaper for me to save the petrol / bus or train fare, potential parking tickets and stress of visiting the shops and MAYBE finding what I am looking for than switching my computer on, with a cup of coffee in one hand scouring the internet for what I need. Why would you bother with fancy shop fronts and offers if you can’t showcase yourself where it really matters? It makes you look out of touch with the current consumer mentality and almost as if you do not value their business.
The average person in the UK uses the internet for almost everything now. To be fair most people who run businesses use the internet to run their personal lives too. Personally I use the internet to do all my banking from checking my account to paying bills, I also use it to buy all my groceries and other goods and even on the odd occasion buy a birthday card. Most commonly now I, like millions of others across the world, also use the internet to stay in contact with relatives and friends around the world (and down the road). With the internet being such an important part of everyday life now you would think it a good thing to have your own website and a free one even better?
Well the easy answer is no! This is where most people fail to understand the importance of what people look for online as having an online presence (a word that gets flown about too loosely as it means so much more) is not the be all and end all and saviour of your business. In fact free websites in particular are the poison which through the ignorance and complacency of its users, kill businesses online.
Now that is a pretty harsh statement but again ask yourself WHY? This is all it takes to make or break the success of your business online. When you use the internet what do you want?
Do you want to visit an online shop for example and look at a few images and someone's contact details?
NO! You want to buy the products and not waste your time looking at someones effectively business card. You will then go and find a shop (probably a few more seconds later) who does sell the products online and hey presto you have what you were looking for and you didn't have to go out to find it.
Do you know of a service provider and through whatever reason want to get in contact with them and can't find their business through the search string used?
Personally this is one of my biggest bains and I am quite impatient and tend to lose interest after a while and whatever my reason was, it is soon forgotten.
Do you want to view a website page which has a completely crazy colour scheme like a black background which makes the text hard to read or give you some sort of headache? What about images which are too small or dead links and old information that makes the site irrelevant to what you want to find out?
The answer is quite frankly no to all of these. In business first impressions are everything, why would anyone feel it is okay to not appreciate this. Those with this attitude is honestly not worth my custom.
The purpose of a website is to provide or showcase your services to people not only further afield but to locals too. This is a fact often overlooked when planning a website. Weirdly enough businesses out there feel that they don’t want extra clientele and that their locals are all the need. This is a fair, albeit lazy approach but why is it not a good idea to keep your regular customers up to date and maybe value them a little more by providing them textra courtesy. For example who not offer them the facility to order, book or organise a night out by seeing what you have on offer any particular day. I know of a few businesses who do this very well and they are praised by customers close to home and those who aren’t. Surely that can only be a good thing.
So please value your customers and invest in a website, the effort doesn’t end there but that is for another day. The key to your potential success is measured in keeping up with consumer demands and trends.