Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Why Do You Need a Website?

Why Do You Need a Website?

So many businesses still have no idea why they need a website. (“Because everyone else has one,” is not a legitimate reason.)
To be clear: I’m not talking about whether businesses need websites. I’m not here to convince you that you must have a website—in fact, I’m going to try to convince you that you don’t need one.
Plenty of businesses would do just fine with minimal or no online presence. They’re so in tune with their audiences that their customers would do whatever it took to seek out their products or services, website or no website.
But if you do have a website, you better know why. Not just why it exists, but why it looks and works exactly the way it does.

Why did I get this stupid website anyway?

Websites can be expensive, time-consuming, technically challenging, and hard to keep current. So why did you get yours in the first place?
Is it because your competitors have them, and therefore, it must be the right thing to do?
Maybe, you assume that your mere online presence will bring the revenue rolling in. And if that doesn’t happen, you’ll think, “Well, my website must suck. Something’s wrong with the way it’s designed.”
In reality, this suggests that you don’t have design challenges, you have business challenges. Something’s wrong with your branding, marketing, pricing, or customer support (just to name a few possibilities).
Now’s not the time to shake your finger at your web design. And a “better” website, in and of itself, will do nothing to solve your problems.
Instead, you need to spend some time with your business strategy, and start asking why.

“Why” gets a bad rap

When we were kids, we asked why all day long. We refused to take life at face value, questioned absolutely everything, and didn’t care who got sick of answering us. In fact, every answer we got just inspired another question, and around and around we went.
Eventually, of course, we exhausted our parents’ patience and were told to shut up. And guess what happened? We stopped asking.
Today’s businesses would be so much more successful if we all took a lesson from our hyper-curious
younger selves. We need to spend a lot less time blindly playing follow the leader and a lot more time asking why.
When a client asks me to change part of his website, I ask him why.
When we’re considering adding a new page to a site, I stop to ask why.
If a client wants to start using social media, I ask why.
This is not because I think the ideas are bad ones. On the contrary, I want to make sure they’re really as good as they sound.
I want to be able to back up every single decision with a concrete reason to ensure that our projects are always built on a foundation of strategy, rather than ambiguous creative whims or copycat methods.
I also want to make sure we’re staying constantly mindful of optimizing our time, money, and resources. I don’t want to spend a second or a dime on anything that doesn’t need to exist.

Find the right starting line

Ok, so most businesses do need websites. But they might need something else first.
Maybe your brand has no personality. Maybe the copy you were planning to put on your website isn’t communicating your message effectively enough, or you need to discover new ways to reach the right people.
Sure, an effective website is an important part of the puzzle. But unless you’re willing to dive a little deeper into your business strategy and spend more time asking why, you might be disappointed with the results.