Welcome to Staying Connected, brought to you by SkyCastle Productions.
In Staying Connected our goal is to help business owners navigate the uncertain times we’re currently living in, and help provide tips to operating a business when your customers and clients can’t physically be on site.
In today’s episode we’ll be discussing how to choose the basics of websites.
Why do you need a website?
97% of shoppers say that they learned about their local businesses by searching online. Data also tells us that 28% of local searches become purchases. That should be the long and short answer of “why” you need a website. But to put it in broader terms there are loads of reasons why you would need a website.
In our first episode I shared with you some of the goal setting practices I use with my clients. Asking them about their goals for their business on and off line. It’s so important to realize that your offline goals can impact your website. A website is often your customers first interaction with your business. So what are you telling them about your brand, your ideals, and your goals for their interaction with your business.
With this in mind let’s dive into what you need to start your own website.
Right now the financial landscape is very tense and this will lead many people to taking a DIY approach to marketing. As a web designer myself I would suggest staying away from this route and finding a qualified web designer in your price range. There are also some great tools, and not so great tools for designing a DIY website.
Let’s start with those commercials you see on youtube and occasionally on TV. WIX and Squarespace.
If you’ve ever talked to me about websites you’ll know my absolute hatred for WIX and it’s platform. There are LOADS of technical reasons why anyone looking to increase their business online should run as far away as they can from WIX but I’ll try to break them down as much as possible.
The first thing you should know is that according to a 2019 survey on Hubspot 88% of all searches for a local business are conducted on mobile devices. This means your website has to look good on a cell phone. If your website looks wonky on my phone my first thought is to hit the back button and keep scrolling down my search results.
The second thing to think about when considering WIX is that the majority of online searches are done through Google. WIX websites are notoriously bad at ranking in Google, for loads of reasons. Mostly because of the way they are built on the back end. When viewing your website there is a code that tells your website what size screen you’re viewing on. For instance if I’m looking at your website on my laptop this code will tell your website to show me a desktop version of the site. If I’m viewing it on my ipad it will render some of the website as it would be on a mobile phone, and some as if it were on my desktop, and obviously if I’m viewing on my phone it will size down to a mobile optimized version of your website. This is called responsive design. In the mid 2010’s Google decided that this was the fastest, easiest way for people to be able to view websites, only WIX didn’t get the memo. WIX is still building their websites with two different home pages, one for mobile and one for desktop. This is part of the reason why Google and WIX don’t get along.
WIX’s drag and drop editor seems easy and quick to build out a website with, but don’t be fooled it could cost you rankings in Google and mobile customers in the long run.
When clients ask me what my alternative to WIX would be I always tell them “If you can’t hire someone, or if WordPress intimidates you please use SquareSpace. SquareSpace is a website builder that offers a clean and mobile optimized environment, while not ideal for SEO (search engine optimisation) there isn’t anything that inherently fails with this platform and Google.
The Professional Route
As a full time website designer and visual marketer I would always put my endorsement on hiring a professional. But not just any professional will do. Make sure the professional you use is fluent in the language of web design. Ask questions just as if you were hiring staff. A website is just as important to your business as any essential employee.
Good questions to ask a web designer is how long they’ve been in the business, if they’ve worked with other company’s in your industry before, and what platform they use and why.
Even if you don’t know the difference between WordPress and Jumla it’s important that your designer does, and that they can explain to you the value of the tools they’re using.
When speaking with my clients I always tell them the benefits of WordPress from a marketing perspective. How scalable it is and roughly how many large companies across the world have used it.
It’s also important to be upfront about your expectations with a web designer, do not expect them to guess your needs.
If you’re in need of search functionality, or a shopping cart have that conversation day 1 of your client and designer relationship. Knowing what you’re getting and that your designer is able to give it to you is key to making sure your website works for you.