Do I need a website in 2023?

I understand why this question is being asked. Having a website was supposed to be the silver bullet of marketing. For many, it ended up being an expensive maintenance hassle that wasn’t worth the effort.

The short answer is that of course you need a website. You can provide a complete sales pitch and rundown of all of your products and services exactly the way you want to anyone in the world in an instant. Not having a website drastically limits what you can do online interns of search, email marketing and following up on any leads you generate via facebook, instagram, tik tok, etc.

In 2023, only the smallest of small businesses will ask this question. If it’s done right, the expense is minimal and the benefit is huge. As long as your business is larger than a side hustle, having a website is a no-brainer. And it probably makes sense for casual side-hustles too. Frankly, the question seems absurd in 2023. It may have made sense in the 90s when the web could have been called an expensive fad and Sandra Bullock was getting caught in The Net, but in 2023 a huge part of our lives take place online. Keeping your business off the web is like shutting off the lights and boarding up the doors and windows. You’re choosing to not participate in society where your customers are.

What are the benefits of having a website for small businesses?

For a small business, a website means having a sales pitch, brochure, commercial, and instant credibility ready to be delivered to anyone at any time. Here are some specifics that you can only accomplish with your own website:

Branding: A website allows a small business to establish its own unique brand and identity, separate from social media platforms. It gives them more control over the look, feel, and messaging of their online presence.

Credibility: Having a website can make a small business appear more professional and credible to potential customers. It can also provide more information about the company and its products or services.

SEO: A website allows a small business to optimize its online presence for search engines, which can help it reach more customers. This is important as most of the customers search for products and services online before making a purchase.

Control: A website gives a small business control over its online presence, allowing them to make updates and changes as needed. On the other hand, a Facebook page may be subject to changes or restrictions imposed by the platform.

E-commerce: A website allows a small business to sell products or services directly to customers, which can be a great way to increase revenue. Facebook does not have the same e-commerce capabilities as a website.

A website provides a small business with more control, credibility, and opportunities for growth than a Facebook page alone. It is a valuable component of a small business's overall marketing strategy.

What is the role of my website in 2023?

The role of a website is what it’s always been: Your website is the hub of a larger marketing strategy.

A website is part of a much larger marketing ecosystem of your company’s brand. Your branding, signage, social media, traditional media, and guerilla marketing. The combination and strategy that works for you depends on a number of factors including your industry and business model. Do you offer products or services? Do you serve a local or global market? Do you make transactions online or only in your place of business? And on and on.

What works for one business model won’t work for another. Think about what eCommerce, retail and B2B service companies need in terms of exposure and traffic and you quickly see the need for creating a strategy customized to your unique needs. 

Being found and being sticky

Back before the dot-com bubble burst, there was a belief that just building a website would deliver instant customers. Now there’s a belief that a little SEO will deliver throngs of customers. But the competition is fierce. A big part of SEO is having good content. That means writing weekly, topical articles for 1,500 words, that means getting backlinks from authoritative resources. It’s a big job. It takes a big investment in time and money. It does generally pay off.

What about the threat of AI copy? You can write a thousand articles a day with Jasper or ChatGPT or whatever comes next. The good news is that for now, AI generated content has trouble passing as completely human and still takes a fair amount of human guidance… but the gap is closing alarmingly fast.

Now, search engines are definitely not the only game in town for finding site visitors. youtube, tiktok, influencer sponsorship; in fact all parts of the ever widening classification of social media are becoming more viable means of enticing visitors to your site. 

The point is that getting found is no easy feat. You’ve got to maximize your ability to convert visitors into customers… aka Conversion. Ultimately it means that your website needs to be smarter. It has to be very efficient at delivering essential messages, answering core questions, and routing your audience to the content they need. People have shockingly short attention spans and almost no patience.

You must deliver specific answers to whatever your visitors are looking for. You can almost think of it as a series of landing pages that present information/solutions for all your various customer types.

At a minimum, your website needs to be professional. At a minimum, that means not making mistakes: Being not just mobile friendly, but responsive, being SSL encrypted, being accessible, not being broken or slow, 

Why would someone even ask if they really needed a website in 2023?

There are three big problems facing small business websites today: expense, genericness (aka template use), excessive maintenance.

A big part of the problem is WordPress. It’s the Content Management System that is far and away the most popular development platform web designers use. This is because it has tons of powerful features that can be added with plugins and an almost infinite number of templates available for very little cash. So you can whip up a modern, powerful, original-looking website in a few hours. 

Unfortunately it’s just an awful system in almost every way. It’s hard for not-tech people to manage, it has a tendency to break on its own and gets hacked shockingly often. 

Tips if you’re asking this question

Get some help
I know DIY keeps costs down, but it keeps your time commitment up and the quality low. Someone with experience can help make having a site worthwhile. If you're in this situation, contact us. A little help from a consultation can save you a lot of time and get you on the right path. 

Avoid Wordpress and those who work with it
While it has powerful features, its confusing interface and maintenance problems make it a non-starter. 

Consider Elevator Site
It’s version2’s solution for low budgets. We eliminated all of the extraneous expenses without compromising the quality or design.

If you must DIY, consider Google Sites or Squarespace
Don't use Wix. It’s a mess. Google Site’s is spartan and can look templatish, but it’s clean and solid to work with. The best DIY platform is Squarespace. It’s very easy to use and has a great deal of capabilities. Still, Squarespace benefits greatly from professional web design skills which can make a Squarespace site look and work like a custom coded site.

Website, website planning