A lot of people come to us asking for a basic website that “tells people what we do and where we are”. After all, this is what a website is for right? Well… Sometimes.

If you are planning on building a website that offers the most value to your business, sometimes a basic informative site can’t hope to help you enough to warrant very much expense at all. Take for instance, these situations:

Case Study 1
A potential customer we met with the other day. She lives and works in a very small town, population less than 20,000, the kind of town where she knew everybody’s business and they knew hers. She felt it was time to move into the internet age and wanted a website that told people about her and where she was.

But everyone in the area already knows where she is and what she does, and people from further afield are unlikely to travel to get to her shop. The only thing her money would do in that situation was clog up the drain it was going down.

Case Study 2
Same day, different potential customer. A locksmith. Locksmithing poses a few troubles for massive web returns, mainly that even the geekiest of geeks (ie. me) still turn to the good old yellow pages when in need. If I lock myself out of my car, I’m never going to choose a locksmith based on the quality of their website, I want the one that will be there in 2 minutes flat.

What this means for websites
As much as the internet may be the ‘place to be’ of the 21st century, there is no reason to go there purely for the sake of it. That is not to say I condone anyone who DOESN’T currently have a website, because it would appear that you are missing out on many, many opportunities. It’s purely a matter of being realistic about what you can achieve on the web, and how to contort the internet to make it fit you.

For instance, no one is willing to travel to a small town to buy a herbal remedy, however, people would LOVE to have access to the unique skill and homemade blends that customer 1 offers. The solution: Set up an online shop. Give all the customers who currently rave about the products a few business cards each and let them pass them onto friends who can access those same products offline.

Sometimes it’s a matter of figuring out what your business does. Yes locksmiths install locks one off. But the real money comes from fitting out homes/businesses with complete security systems. They already notice a surge in calls from homeowners before every holiday. Solution: Create a website around home/workplace safety. offer advice on security and information about complete security packages. That’s what people will take the time to look up, and whilke they are doing it, your credibility as a locksmith is rising.

So Before You Begin…
Treat the web like any other part of your business, sit down and figure out the best way to make money from it. Treat a website like an opportunity, not a neccessary expense and see what you come up with. Obviously, it’s best to find a web designer you can trust and sit them down too.

1.Think about your overall business goals and aims:

– What business areas do you want to grow?
– Narrow ‘what you do’ down to a couple of sentences description

2.Consider how your customers currently find you/are supported by you and how you’d like this to happen in the future:

– Do you spend too much time on the phone offering basic support?
– Is your current website (if you have one) generating new leads? Why?/Why not?

3.Start to think about how a website/web strategy can help you build on these areas or help your business become more efficient.

The result of these preliminary steps (which seem to be missed fairly often) is that a basic about us/ contact us website is not your best bet.

By Natalie Ferguson