People search the internet for businesses, products, services, etc. The days of relying on phone books are long gone. If someone needs to find information, they are most likely turning to the internet to find it. When they search for something you offer or specifically for your business, you want to show up- and not just show up- but show up and look good. Looking good is important because your website is often your first impression you give Potential Customers in . If they found you through a search or through a link a friend gave them, your website will be your first point of contact with them. Before they even see your store or talk to your staff, they will see your website. You want that first impression to be a good one. Your storefront and showroom look good, right? Why do they look good? Because you know customers will see them and form an opinion about the business based on them (in addition to factors such as customer service, quality, price, etc. of course). Think of your website as your Digital Storefront and showroom. People are looking at it and are forming an opinion about the business based on it. So make it look good!
A quality website is clean, well-organized, easy to navigate, clear/concise, modern (in terms of style and layout), functional, branded, and motivates the visitor to do business with you. Information such as hours of operation, location, and contact info should be extremely easy to find. If you have Social Media Profiles, buttons linked to these profiles should be present. People want a quick solution to their problem or a quick answer to their question. Make it easy for them. They also want to look at something that is visually appealing. Give them that with a quality website.
If you want to be taken seriously online, this is the wrong kind of thinking. And can hurt you down the line. Owning a domain name and a website that you call home is the most important part of establishing a web presence. Can you think of a successful business that doesn’t have a website? There are probably some examples out there, but these businesses are probably not all that concerned with Building An Online Reputation, while YOU, most likely, are.
It’s true. A Well-Designed Website in makes you look like you know what you’re doing. It will give journalists, bloggers, and other people in your industry a sense that you’re serious about what you do. It’ll show you care enough to put a little money and time into what you’re passionate about.
Social networks add-and-remove feature all the time. They change designs and make seemingly absurd changes in order to get more advertising dollars. All this can hurt your web presence and alienate fans. With your own website: you call the shots. You make the changes. You decide on the design.
Before the internet (barring the occasional traveling salesman) you needed a physical storefront in order to sell something to the public. Even if you were selling merch at an event, you need to set up a table and be able to process transactions, etc.
The advantage of having a storefront is that people always know where to go to buy your stuff. And once a customer has been to your store, they generally know how to find their way back. It’s very similar online. If I want to buy something from Target, I go to target.com. It’s an easy storefront to remember. If I want to buy something from Amazon, I go to amazon.com. I wouldn’t go to Target’s Facebook Page Or Amazon’s Twitter Page to buy socks. It wouldn’t make sense. Social networks and websites serve different purposes and that’s a good thing.
Smartphone apps are HUGE right? Seems like everybody is trying to cash in on the mobile app gold-rush these days. I know I’ve probably downloaded hundreds of apps since I first purchased a smartphone. It seems like people use apps more than they use the internet these days. Is it possible that apps are the new websites?
In a word: no.
Apps are utilities. They are designed to make our life easier and more fun. And if they’re worth their salt they probably cost thousands of man-hours to produce. A website is different. A website is not a utility, novelty, or a game. A website is a place of business. A website is where you communicate with your customers, grow your fan base, and sell your wares. Sure you could build an iPhone app that does most of these things, but your business would be confined to Apple’s rules and ecosystem. And then you’d need to build an android app, an iPad app, a desktop app, and who knows what else to ensure you reach all your customers.
It takes time to earn traffic online. It can take years to establish Optimal Rankings in Search Engines. And Google likes websites and domains that have been around a while. Don’t expect to launch a new website and suddenly get handed a bucket full of relevant traffic from Google–it won't happen. But if you build a website that grows and matures along with your brand over time, you will gain an incremental increase in traffic from search engines. Sure, your Facebook or Twitter page may rank well on some search terms, but what happens when everybody leaves Facebook and goes somewhere else? Registering your domain name and starting your website now, is always better than later.