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Why and when your business needs a website

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by Startacus Admin

Our pals over at Vitamin just gave one lucky Startacus member a £5000 website and branding package, covering a new custom website, brand management and even creation (if you needed it) and a subscription to their fantastic Vitamin service. 

Now they’re giving our members their two cents on one of our favourite topics 'Why and when your business needs a website'.

Over to the experts for their take on the matter. Why and when your business needs a website

Recent research into the online habits of millions of consumers (Weebly, 2014) found that 56% of people do not trust a business without a website. While online sales continue to grow (accounting for 11.3% of all retail sales in December 2014, an increase of 8.0% compared with December 2013 - ONS Jan 2015) the impact of the web on retail overall is much larger. With the proliferation of smartphones, tablets, and general cross-shopping behaviour, Forrester Research (Web Influenced Retail Sales Forecast, 2014) expect websites to influence over 44% of European offline retail sales by 2018.

Despite this, a Lloyds Bank study (2014) found that 50% of small businesses in the UK still don’t have a website. Astoundingly 29% simply didn’t think a website was relevant for their business.

The days of people picking up the phone or flicking through a printed directory are over. Nowadays, the first thing most of us do when looking for a particular product or service is go straight to an online search engine. Even if we’ve seen an ad or had a personal recommendation our first instinct is to check out the website. If your business isn’t online, you’re missing out.Why and when your business needs a website

That said, not having a website is better than a keeping a bad one as if your site looks shoddy and unprofessional you’re more than likely damaging your business. No website means you’re effectively invisible, so missing out on potential sales. A rubbish website is even worse as people’s perception of your business is being actively influenced. This will affect their likelihood to buy from you in the future, what they’ll tell their friends, family and colleague about you and so on. Would you walk into a shop on the High Street with mismatched signage, rubbish in the doorway and dirty windows? It sounds harsh, but lots of business’s websites are the online equivalent. People really do judge a book by its cover. According to Stanford University research, 75% of people judge the credibility of a company by the design of its website. 94% say well designed websites are more trustworthy.

So how do you create a site which maximises the credibility of your business . . . as well as your sales. The experts at Stanford University have some tips :

Make it easy to verify the accuracy of the information on your site. Why and when your business needs a website
You can build web site credibility by providing third-party support (testimonials, references, source material) for information you present, especially if you link to this evidence. Even if people don't follow these links, you've shown confidence in your material.

Show that there's a real organization behind your site.
Showing that your web site is for a legitimate organization will boost the site's credibility. The easiest way to do this is by listing a physical address. Other features can also help, such as posting a photo of your offices or listing a membership with the chamber of commerce.

Highlight the expertise in your organization and in the content and services you provide.
Do you have experts on your team? Are your contributors or service providers authorities? Be sure to give their credentials. Are you affiliated with a respected organization? Make that clear. Conversely, don't link to outside sites that are not credible. Your site becomes less credible by association.

Make it easy to contact you.
A simple way to boost your site's credibility is by making your contact information clear: phone number, physical address, a contact form etc.

Design your site so it looks professional (or is appropriate for your purpose).
We find that people quickly evaluate a site by visual design alone. When designing your site, pay attention to layout, typography, images, consistency issues, and more. Of course, not all sites gain credibility by looking like The visual design should match the site's purpose.

Update your site's content often (at least show it's been reviewed recently).
People assign more credibility to sites that show they have been recently updated or reviewed.

Use restraint with any promotional content (e.g., ads, offers).
If possible, avoid having ads on your site. If you must have ads, clearly distinguish the sponsored content from your own. Avoid pop-up ads, unless you don't mind annoying users and losing credibility. As for writing style, try to be clear, direct, and sincere.

Avoid errors of all types, no matter how small they seem.
Typographical errors and broken links hurt a site's credibility more than most people imagine. It's also important to keep your site up and running.

A fantastic read, and full of helpful advice, we can’t wait to see how the Startacus community makes use of this and expands their online platforms with this kind of help.

Startacus members can get a huge discount on a custom website for their business with Vitamin.  Check out some of the information HERE.

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Published on: 23rd February 2015

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