What is a website? Do I need a website? In this article, we will review whether you need to build a website for your business, services or portfolio, understand the difference between a website vs social media, and give you some tips on how to effectively build a professional website. Grab a coffee and let’s get started!
What is a website?
Sir Tim Berners-Lee developed the World Wide Web (WWW) in 1989 while working at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research. Shortly after, the first website was launched, on August 6, 1991 — and as of today, the look, design and functionality of a website has been progressively evolving and it continues to transform the way we connect with people, share information, and live a quality life.
A website is a collection of web pages, graphics, media, style sheets, scripts, and other related content that is mostly recognized by a common domain name (website domain) and is published on a web server (website hosting). A website can now be access through a broad range of devices, from computer, tablet, smart phones, smart TVs and more.
As we head into 2023:
- Mobile traffic and desktop traffic are both at a dead even 50%, meaning half of all website traffic is coming from a mobile device.
- At least 79% of smartphone users have made a purchase online using their mobile device.
- 80% of shoppers used a mobile phone inside of a physical store to either look up product reviews, compare prices or find alternative store locations.
Statistics from OuterBox
Do I need a website?
With the details above, we can say that the digital world is progressively connecting to the physical world.
If you have your physical business or store setup, you should as well setup a digital presence to increase your competitive advantage within your target market. It gives you 24/7 online presence, additional source of sales and revenue, channel for customer support, digital marketing, and potential business growth opportunity.
Website vs Social Media – What is the difference?
In the digital world, owning a website is similar to having your own physical store registered with your own business name, whereas, having a social media page is like setting up a stall in a bazaar where the bazaar is the social media platform which you need to comply with their rules in order to be part of the platform.
Advantages of social media:
- Social Media Helps Brands Connect with Audiences within the Platform
- Cheap and easily accessible
- Good for Content Marketing and Content Sharing
Social media encourages users to interact and engage – the like, share, and comment features, among others, are built specifically to encourage interaction. And the more people engage with your brand on social media, the more reach, awareness, and sales you’ll gain.
Disadvantages of social media:
- Social media features are limited
- Limited reach, users only within the Platform
- Changing trends
Trends in social media are constantly changing. Since these platforms are based on technological innovations, you will never know when a new platform will appear, quickly achieving enormous success, thus, taking users from another platform make take a huge amount of effort, time and money.
Social media pages displays both your positive and negative feedback. While it is important to be transparent, sometimes there are comments from social media that might be too intrusive. While this can be moderated, the quick spread of negative publicity due to more real-time operation gives a negative impression to your business and may affect the perception of the prospective client or customer.
Advantages of website:
- Offers access to different traffic sources e.g. search engines for discoverability.
- Controllable and customizable digital space.
- Opportunities for development and feature enhancement.
- Share your website contents effectively to different social media channels.
- Setup your own domain name and custom email accounts.
Website provides greater control with the overall functionality, design, layout, customizations, and eCommerce features for an enhanced shopping and user experience. It also improves the brand’s credibility and allow you to set a unique identity by using your own domain name (website domain) and custom email accounts.
Setting up a website also allows you to access a vast of online tools including Google products and services that will get your business the most competitive advantage online.
Disadvantages of website:
- Requires professional knowledge like designing and coding to begin a website
- Need for domain registration and web hosting purchases, system upgrades, hiring of professionals for website design and development.
- Creation time – from several hours to several months depends on the website’s complexity.
- Requires ongoing improvements and technical support.
The quality of your website impacts results. Having a poorly made website may reflect the personality of your business and promise to your customers.
Hence, having a professionally built website is important, as well as making it SEO-friendly.
Importance of a professional looking website
Having a professional website is a must to build an online presence, whether it’s for your business, personal brand, or any other purpose. Here are some effective ways to help you create a professional website.
Start with a site plan and strategize
Before you start creating your website, you need to clarify the purpose of the website and outline what you need that site to do. What do you want to achieve with it? Who are your audience? Are you planning for selling goods and services online? Do you need the website as a tool to promote your business and services online?
Defining your goals will help structure the site contents, target the key audience and tailor your content and design to their preferences and needs:
- Brand awareness, company information, announcements and updates
- Display office / store hours, services details, product catalog, prices, and other information that can be helpful for the customer / audience
- Online leads and contact information
- Sell physical, digital products, and / or services
- Customer engagement, showcase testimonials and reviews
You goals can be any of the above, a combination, or you might have a more complex goal not mentioned here. The more you take time strategizing your website, the more you will be able to identify what is needed to build your website.
Register a domain and purchase hosting
The first thing your website need is a domain and hosting. Your domain is like a virtual version of your business name on the internet that allows the world to locate you so make sure to choose the right domain name that is easy to recall, relevant to your business, content or brand, and represents the website effectively. You can register your domain to any domain registar as long as the domain you choose is available.
Your hosting is the data space that holds all the information for your website. Hosting have different types and are offered by hosting providers. Some basic hosting types are shared hosting and dedicated hosting. New businesses and startups works with shared hosting, but as the website grows and demand more data processing, you might need to migrate to a more robust hosting plans. Choose a web hosting provider that offers a balance of good uptime, fast loading times, and diligent customer support at a reasonable cost.
Website design and branding
Your website needs to be professionally designed and have a unique brand identity. Ensure your design is user-friendly and visually appealing.
Some major elements needed are:
- Site Structure
- Written Content
Strong, effective brands give you a competitive advantage in the marketplace and help you weather the storms of market competition. To learn more about growing your business through strong branding, checkout the LinkedIn Learning Course Branding Foundations.
Choose a website builder
A website builder is a tool that helps you develop websites quick and efficient. These solutions typically feature secure content management system (CMS), that is built on top of a database and allows you to easily create, edit, manage, and delete content of a website. One type of website builder is WordPress.
WordPress is secure, SEO-Friendly, flexible functionality, endless design options, interoperable, upgradable and is used by almost 43% of all websites on the internet as of 2022. That means that around two out of every five websites use WordPress as of today.
Create high-quality engaging content
Develop a well-structured content that provides value, interest and entertainment to your audience. Use professional images, videos or other multimedia to enhance the engagement to your website.
Optimize for search engines
Making your website SEO-friendly helps Google, Bing and other search engines to crawl each page on the website efficiently and understand what the website is all about. Implement on-page and off-page SEO technique to improve your website’s visibility to search engine result pages (organic visibility for specific search queries) and that means more traffic and more opportunities to convert prospects into customers.
Incorporate contact information
Provide clear contact information, including a contact form, email address, and physical address if applicable.
Include product reviews and client testimonials
If applicable, display client testimonials and product reviews to build trust and credibility.
Social media integration
Integrating social media to your site gives your audience a variety of ways to connect and interact with your brand on their preferred social media channel. Add your social media profiles to your website, keep them up to date, cohesive with your website and your brand will become more memorable.
Secure your website
Implement security measures such as an SSL certificate for data protection and regularly update your CMS, themes, plugins if applicable to guard against any site vulnerabilities.
Building a professional website is an ongoing process. It is important to understand and leverage new technology, keeping it up to date, relevant and secure as your audience and goals evolved. Continuously optimizing and refining your website over time to ensure it remains effective and professional.