6 reasons why a website is critical to your business

by Jamie Kiley

Since I’m a web designer, I have a tendency to think everyone understands that having a website is important. Every once in a while, I have to remind myself that some people just haven’t heard yet!

We’re going to go back to the very beginning and explain. Here are 6 reasons why having a website is such a big deal:

1. A website increases your credibility

Your website has a powerful impact on a potential customer’s confidence in you. A professional design, well-written copy, helpful product information, and good contact info can tremendously increase trust in your company. It lets people know you’re knowledgeable and up-to-date. If you take the time to develop a good-quality site with helpful information, visitors will have no choice but to be impressed.

2. A website makes your company visible anytime, anywhere

As of April 2002, there are roughly 165.8 million people online in the US alone. Some of them are looking for your products and services. With a website, you open yourself up to a world of opportunity in reaching people who might not otherwise find you. With the click of a mouse, anyone can get to your company’s website 24/7.

3. A website makes it easy for people to refer new customers to you

For many businesses, referrals are a crucial source of new customers. Having a website makes it easy to encourage referrals, because customers can simply send friends and business contacts to your site. Website addresses are easier to remember than phone numbers. Plus, giving people multiple ways of contacting you makes it more likely that they will do so.

4. A website is a powerful sales tool

Selling your products through an online store is often a killer way to expand your business. You have a perpetual, easily-accessed storefront—one that costs a fraction of a brick and mortar store and can reach many more people. Effective sales copy can do an incredible job of hooking visitors on your products and compelling them to click that “buy” button.

Even if you can’t sell your services directly over the internet, a website is still a powerful asset. It’s a primer that you use to convince visitors of why they need your services. You get them salivating to buy, then invite them to contact you through your site.

5. A website increases the value of your advertising

Adding your website address to all your advertisements, business cards, and company literature is a great way to draw potential customers to your company. Providing a website gives people a way to act on your message whenever they hear about you or see an ad for your company. Going to a website is easier than writing, visiting a store, or even making a phone call. Customers get the information at their convenience and don’t have to wait for a salesperson to help them. Also, it’s often more comfortable to visit a website, because there is no obligation. Visitors don’t feel pressured.

6. A website helps you stay in contact with potential customers

There are frequently people who are interested in what you have to offer, but they might not be ready to buy right now. You need to stay in contact with them so that you immediately come to mind when they ARE ready. A website is a great way to facilitate this. You can use your website to collect email addresses from visitors. Then you can periodically send out promotional emails or a newsletter. Staying in contact keeps your company fresh in visitors’ minds.

Well, there you have it–6 ways a website benefits your company and helps you sell more. Do you want to leave this opportunity to your competitors? Surely not! Each day you wait, you’re letting them establish themselves online as the resource in your field. Stop giving them that advantage!


Jamie Kiley is a web designer in Atlanta, GA.

5 Tips for Choosing a Web Designer

by Jamie Kiley

If you’re in the market for a new website, one of the first things you’ll need to do is hire a web designer. As in any field, there are good web designer and bad web designers, and it’s important to know how to determine which is which. Here are 5 tips to get you started:

1.  Don’t judge a designer’s skill solely on graphic design skills.

Just like you can’t judge a book by its cover, you can’t judge a web designer based on his or her graphic design skills alone. While graphic design is important, attractive images are not the most significant determinant of good design. In fact, they are a comparatively small part of what makes a good website.

Instead of focusing completely on visual image, concentrate on evaluating a designer’s other skills. Evaluate the designer’s portfolio by asking these sample questions:

  • Does this designer design with usability in mind? In other words, is the site designed for form or for function?
  • Does the designer have good organizational abilities? Look for organization of the entire site as a whole, as well as the organization of individual page layouts.
  • Does the designer employ good navigation techniques? Try out some of the sites in his or her portfolio and carefully examine how easy it is for you to navigate around the site and find specific pieces of information.
  • Instead of using graphics just for the sake of pizzazz, does the designer use graphics purposefully to organize the page and to direct a visitor’s attention to important points?
  • All sites should motivate a visitor to do something, whether it is buying a product, filling out a quote request form, signing up for a newsletter, etc.
  • Does the designer do a good job of visually showing visitors how to take action?
  • Does the designer design sites that are easy to use?
  • Instead of asking, “Does this site look good?” ask, “Would this site make me want to buy a product if I was in that site’s target market?”

2.  Talk with references.

Don’t just peruse the sites in a designer’s portfolio. Get in contact with some of the designer’s past clients and question them on the specifics of their experience. Ask how long it took to complete their website, as well as how easy it was to work with the designer.

Also, be sure to ask how effective the client’s website has been. How many visitors do they get? By how much have their sales increased? How well has the site accomplished the client’s intended goals?

3.  Have a basic knowledge of good web design techniques.

It helps significantly in evaluating a prospective web designer if you know at least the basics of good web design. This way, you’ll be in a better position to judge good techniques from the not-so-good.

Before you get ready to hire a designer, spend some time browsing the web and the shelves of your local bookstore. If possible, try to get a feel for the basics of usability and online marketing. Also, glean information from a variety of different sources. The experts often disagree, and it’s helpful to hear from a variety of perspectives and understand why they hold particular positions.

4.  Don’t necessarily go for the lowest bidder.

Remember, it’s not just about getting a website; you’ll need a website that will actually perform. Price and quality usually have a direct relationship, so you’ll get what you pay for. Designers who are overly inexpensive ordinarily lack experience, are difficult to work with, don’t understand much about online marketing, or don’t truly have a grasp of good web design techniques. A website from such a designer won’t be beneficial.

5.  Look for a designer who asks good questions.

Astute designers should probe you for specific answers to such questions as:

  • What is your primary goal?
  • By what standard will you measure the success of your site?
  • Who is your target audience?
  • What are the primary benefits of your product or service?

Look for a designer who obviously understands marketing, not just graphic design.


Jamie Kiley is a web designer in Atlanta, GA.

3 Reasons You’re Not Building a Mobile App

Marketing Ideas Mobile Web Apps

According to Tonia Zampieri, Mobile Strategist at Atlantic BT, “a full 50% of US adults own and use smartphones. This number jumps to over 75% for those under 44 years old. These numbers are only going up…” Yet, many organizations still have not chosen to enter the mobile fray. Here are a few reasons why I think small to medium-sized organizations of all types remain sluggish in their response to the mobile revolution.

Generation Gap or…

If you look at the demographic of individual donors who give $1,000 or more to any given cause, I’m betting most of them are over the age of 40-50 years. Indeed, I would also hazard a guess to say most nonprofit directors would be among this age range or older. Whether from a subtle, underlying apprehension to learn yet another technology that experience says will be outdated in two years, or maybe just out of pure wisdom, this older, more seasoned demographic tends to be slower at adopting the latest technologies, including mobile computing.

…Practical Priorities?

In the natural course of responding to today’s hectic schedules, I think most folks are still content with email at the desktop. Most C-level executives and program administrators I know don’t do much surfing from mobile (but they’re more than happy to check their email in the middle of a meeting!) If they’re not using the technology in that way, they have considerably less notion that others will use the technology in that way. When this is the case, a firm mobile strategy becomes less of a priority and the focus is placed on more familiar traditional strategies.

The Advent of Mobile-Friendly Web Design

Additionally, web technology is evolving in such a way as to compete with mobile apps. In the past, if you wanted a mobile-friendly website (which sometimes was what the client really wanted—not an app like they originally requested) you had to develop a whole new shell for the site’s content; if you were lucky enough to have a database-driven site. For those who had static websites, you had to create a whole new site and now you would be charged with the tedious task of maintaining two websites instead of one.

With more thoughtful design, we now have websites that collapse to fit a mobile format. These sites require no extra management to be mobile-friendly—you still manage a single site. Additionally, if you build a web application using the same mindfulness, now your web application can double as a “mobile app” (or, at least, a mobile-friendly app.) Obviously, there is a difference between this and a true mobile application, but for those on a budget (which I think describes most small to mid-size organizations,) this approach can help fulfill the mobile strategy they seek.

Afterglow

Ultimately, if you’re a small business or nonprofit interested in marketing online, you should be watching your web statistics on a weekly basis (at a minimum) to determine how much of your traffic is coming through mobile platforms. Whatever that number is now, you can bet it will only continue to grow as mobile computing becomes more popular and as the mobile-savvy population advances in their careers and influence.

marketing ideas mobile app divider

Reference

T. Zampieri. Unlike Facebook, Nonprofits Don’t Get an IPO. May 28 , 2012. Retrieved from http://www.atlanticbt.com/blog/unlike-facebook-nonprofits-dont-get-an-ipo.