You know, sometimes we digital/social/techie-types get stuck in bubbles of our own making, where we think that certain indisputable truths are sacred and shared by all we encounter. The real truth is, certain credos of our trade are most definitely NOT sacred, and questions we thought had long since been answered are still being asked.
Here's an example. Someone within my professional circles recently asked why their business needed a website.
I'll admit, my first thought was a snarky one. I'd already settled this debate for myself in the late 1990s, when as editor of my high school newspaper I wondered why it wouldn't be so much easier to just put the darn thing "on the computer" instead of measuring out columns and pasting together pieces of paper (which at the time was called, you know, "layout").
But here's the thing. For people who live and breathe digital each day, questions like these should not be met with sarcasm, no matter how tempting or innate a reaction that might be. Because if we can't answer such a basic question, we have no business doing what we do.
So, why does a business need a website? Here's my answer:
Because it would be irresponsible NOT to have a website.
A website is your first digital impression. So, it's important that your online properties give the people searching for you, or who happen upon you, a strong indication of how you do business. After all, this is your brand's digital homebase — the "mothership," if you will. If it's disorganized, haphazardly updated, wildly outdated, and/or affords the customer no convenience or ease when trying to find information, this implies that you intend to commit the same atrocities in business. To say this is bad for you would be an understatement.
A website means you exist. Without a website, nothing will show up when people search for you online. It's as if you don't exist. And if you don't exist online, you miss out on the opportunity to make more money.
A website asserts your authority. A well-constructed website means you aren't willing to let the opinions of detractors or competitors dominate the online conversations most relevant to your business. It also means you're taking charge of your own voice and image. No website equals no statement, and thus no authority on your area of expertise.
A website shows you care about serving customers. Claiming your own piece of digital real estate where customers can quickly and easily learn more about you, make informed purchasing decisions, and then make actual purchases...sounds like a no-brainer.
For what other reasons do you have a website?