Question: Does my small business need a website?
Wrong Answer: No, it's too small.
Correct Answer: ABSOLUTELY!
It is a frequent misconception that your small business is "too small for a website". Quite the contrary: If you own or operate a small business in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, New England, or anywhere, for that matter, it is imperative that you have a presence on the World Wide Web.
Consider this true story:
Jane and her family are relocating to Maine. Their daughter competes in the equestrian sport of eventing. They will need to find a suitable stable for the horse within a reasonable distance to their new home in Maine. Ideally, the stable would have a reputable on-site event trainer. Of course, they will also need an equine vet, farrier, and so on. Most of these services must be arranged before the horse leaves their current location.
How will Jane and her family find the service?
Answer: The World Wide Web
Jane goes to Google, Yahoo, and every other search engine and directory she can find, using every combination of keywords she can think of. Much to her dismay, very few stables come up in the search. Jane knows there has to be more available to her than what she is seeing.
And so began Jane's tedious task of calling, leaving messages, and hoping that someone would call her back.
How many good facilities was she missing because she simply couldn't find them?
If your small business does not have a website, or has a website that Google, Yahoo, or other search engines can't find, you could be missing customers you didn't know were there. Whether you train horses in Maine, own a spa in New Hampshire, or offer services of any kind anywhere, you need a well planned, well developed website.
Question: Should I design my own website or hire a professional web designer?
Wrong Answer: I can do it myself!
Correct Answer: Hire a professional website designer!
A website is a reflection of your business. A poorly designed website can make visitors question the quality of your service and turn them away as quickly as a well-designed website can draw them in. A professional website design incorporates design, content, and navigation together to achieve the best possible online marketing for your small business.
Using a professional web designer to develop your website also means that your website will be created and tested to work on a variety of browsers. Although a majority of visitors are likely to use Internet Explorer, up to 30% could be using Firefox, Safari, or another browser. If you design your own website without performing cross-browser testing, you could be loosing 30% of your visitors without knowing it simply because your self-built website couldn't be viewed on the other browsers.
A good web designer also offers (at least) basic Search Engine Optimization (SEO) advice. Using proper head codes, keywords, metatags, page titles, navigation layout, and links is essential for search engine success. A professional web designer will develop your website using these techniques and many others for online success.
If you know how to optimize your content to rank higher on Google and other search engines, understand how to use navigation techniques to move visitors easily through your site, and feel confident in your design skills to create a website that looks good - then build it yourself. Otherwise - hand it over to a professional so you can concentrate on what matters most to you - running your small business. Let you the website designer do what they live for - giving you a quality website.
It will be money well spent when potential customers are finding you with ease.