The Internet Revolution
In 1993, an estimated 13,161,570 people used the Internet when the world population was sitting around 5,578,865,110 people, or just 0.3% of the world’s population. Compare that to 2014/15 where over 3,000,000,000 out of 7,243,784,121 people, or just over 40% of the population of the world have access to the Internet. As of 2014, nearly 90% of the population of the UK uses the Internet while 86.75% of the USA uses it. It was important in 1993 to have a website as it displayed a level of technical professionalism, in 2015, a website is one of the greatest assets anyone can have. With so many people using the internet, a website allows them to find you quickly and easily, understanding what you do in minutes and all from the comfort of their own home or while on the move. Gone are the days when the only way you could find business was on the high street, through the yellow pages, or through print marketing campaigns. The Internet has greatly opened up opportunities for business and, as it continues to grow and reach more people, the need for a website is paramount.
The Big Guys
Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, Google, YouTube. What do all of these websites have in common? They have all built insanely large user bases within a very short time. Since 2000, Amazon has developed a customer base of over 30 million people and as such is the largest online retailer out there. Facebook began in 2004 and now has over 1,390,000,000 users, Twitter grew from 475,000 unique visitors to 7,000,000 in the space of a year and now has over 255 million active users, Google launched in 1996/1997, became an international multi-lingual search engine in 2000 and since than has grown to be one of the largest companies on the planet, the search engine itself now has 64.5% of the market share and has developed or acquired everything from language tools to an advertising service to a webmail system to the Android operating system to a web browser to YouTube. YouTube itself began in 2005 and by 2007 it was estimated that it consumed as much bandwidth as the entire Internet in 2000, in 2013 the number of unique users visiting the site every month reached 1 billion, popular channels on the site have managed to reach the point where they are earning millions of dollars per year with the most subscribed channel, PewDiePie earning $7.4million in 2014 alone. The speed of growth and size of these businesses was only possible because of the fact that they were on the Internet. While it may be difficult to wrestle market share from these gargantuan sites, many still find their niche and success is becoming increasingly difficult without some form of Internet presence.
So, Do I Need a Website?
If the importance and size of the Internet hasn’t persuaded you that you need a website, here are the main reasons why you really do need one whether you are self-employed, a small business, or a large business:
The instant you get a website you will get a boost in credibility. A website says to people that you do exist, that you or your business are legitimate, that you know what you’re doing. Professional websites inspire confidence in people and that means that they’re more likely to buy from you, use your services, or hire you. Most people recognise the feeling of apprehension when they cannot find a website for a business or they find a really poorly made one. In the 21st Century, websites suggest legitimacy and so, making that step will gain you the credibility you need to be a success.
While most business work between the hours of 9am and 5pm, the Internet is always there. It never sleeps or stops and so is available 24/7, seven days a week. No matter when or where your potential customers or clients want to find out about you or use your services, they can. People are increasingly preferring to do things in their own time at their own pace, catering to that through an always accessible website is only going to make them more likely to use your services.
Contact with Customers & Customer Service
Sometimes the most difficult thing to achieve in business is high customer satisfaction. If you do not have an online presence, the chance of getting that satisfaction decreases noticeably. A website allows you to provide an FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) for your users which may answer the questions they have for you. A Contact Form or link to email will also potentially save you in terms of customer service, as it will theoretically decrease the number of lengthy phone calls or in-person discussions you have. A website also allows you to get information out to your customers, updating them on the latest offers, events, or content. If you have social media as well, which you should, you can get this message out even further and more quickly to your user base.
Over 3 billion people have access to and use the Internet every day, 90% of the UK alone has access to it. It doesn’t matter where you are located in the country or the world, a website allows everyone who has access to the Internet to have access to your business. Immediately, your potential level of outreach to potential customers, clients, or users is exponentially higher than any other method of advertising will ever be. Once you have a website you can then begin to target your market more specifically through SEO and other methods, either way, your website will be seen by potentially thousands of people. That level of influence should not be passed up on.
When people look at websites they want to be given information in an engaging fashion. Whether you’re doing freelance work, or are a small business, a website is the perfect place to showcase what you have to offer. Use it as an online brochure of sorts, providing all of the necessary information about you and what you do. You can have a portfolio or gallery alongside testimonials and show what you have to offer to the world. People are much more likely to engage with you if they can see your work or your product, especially if they are impressed by what they see.
Saves Time and Money
While creating a fully professional website may be an expensive up front cost, in the long run, a website will help save you time and money. Providing all of the necessary information to your users online will save you from needing to use the time to do it over the phone or face-to-face or via advertising campaigns. Time is money, so, you’ll be saving there, but you’ll also be saving money by broadening your market and potentially bringing in larger profits. You also get the benefit of cheap running costs as in most instances all you need to pay for is the hosting of the website (the server which allows it to run) which can vary from as little as £2.49 a month to about thousands of pounds a year for the highest calibre of hosting depending on the size of the website and the domain name which can be as cheap as 99p a year. Fifteen’s annual hosting costs start from £250 per annum which gets you: Plesk Powered VPS Hosting; 99.99% uptime; daily back-ups of files, folders, and databases; email hosting capability; automated security updates; scalable resources to meet requirements; general support available Monday to Friday, 9am – 5:30pm; and an Out of Hours/Emergency line is also available. If that seems a bit too much, there are numerous website building sites like WordPress, the CMS system we use due to its open source content management and worldwide support and respect, that will allow you to host and run your website completely for free with further options available for a fee. However, if you want the most professional website you can get, paying the small price of the hosting and domain name each year is preferable. If you worked with Fifteen on your website, we would help guide you through all of these areas so there is no need to worry.
Ways To Get Started
If you’ve been persuaded by this blog post to get a new website, and hopefully you will have been, it can be difficult to know where to start. For some help on this, we have another blog post on website design which should give you some helpful things to think about going into the process. In the end, your website must have a purpose. It needs to tell the user exactly what you are about, tell them how and where to get in contact with you or find you, answer their questions and constantly keep them updated on the latest information.
If you don’t have the funds to build a fully professional website, we highly recommend signing up to social media and blogging platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Blogger as they provide an excellent alternative to a full site.
If, however, you want a professional website designed for you, Fifteen are experts in website creation and would love to help you start your digital journey. We do everything from design to coding to SEO and have been in the web design and digital marketing business for over a decade so we know exactly how the online space works. We also have one of the best aftercare services in the business and will let you know of any new trends or tools that may be useful to you. For more information either check out our Web Design Services or get in touch with us!
Written By: Richard Kish