Does your company have a website?

Probably. How much value that site brings to your organization might be a more difficult question to consider. Some companies live by their website performance, others hardly notice they even have one.

If your company does not sell things online, or leverages online marketing to bring value back in, then most of the time the website boils down to an informational tool – often, just an “online brochure” so people can find out basic information.

The truth is, many organizations have sites that really have not been taken to their maximum potential. Often, a simple site is tossed online at the onset of the business, and maybe it is updated a few times over a decade, leaving a large number of businesses with basic sites built in years past.

Of course the web development community does a good job of keeping their clients sites running on fairly modern platforms. For example, quite a large percentage of operating business websites are now meeting standards like being Mobile Friendly, and are running on some kind of modern content management platform. Quite a few sites still lag behind, and things like HTTPS SSL Security Certificates are still pretty rare to find on most common small business websites.

As more of the small businesses buy into running things like WordPress to power their web presence, the cost of maintaining a database-driven web application like that is higher than just running a flat HTML5 site. We are seeing many budget minded organizations with simple needs moving away from complex WordPress environments, in favor of less costly, easier to maintain HTML5 solutions. These provide better security, run faster, and in many cases cost less overall to set up and maintain when compared to something like WordPress. The downside is they are less flexible, and really fit best in cases where an “online brochure” kind of website is desired.

But the question still comes down to “what does YOUR organization NEED” and the answer to that depends on a few things.

Here are a few questions I think a company might ask itself when consider that question:

Should I sell products or services online?
Does my site capture leads online now?
Can I build a better audience/following online?
What does my competition look like online?

If you decide that you should not sell things online, then you don’t need e-commence. That can save you quite a bit of money. However this is really powerful stuff! Many organizations that are not doing it today are missing out on a great opportunity! If your competition picks up on this and you don’t then how big of a competitive advantage would they have?

Are you getting leads from your website today?

If you are not then there might be some work that could be done to change that. The question is, how much competition is there, and how much work would it take?

Do people come to your site today, but you don’t capture them as a long term audience? This is the biggest missed opportunity on the web I suspect. Just building your “newsletter list” with “subscribers” or gaining subscribers or likes for your social networks from the audience you have is really important! Getting the most out of that will yield long term growth for your organization.
Did you know that anyone who clicks on your site can be tracked and re-marketed to? Have you ever wondered how certain ads seem to follow you around everywhere you go? This is because advertisers are using powerful tools to make sure that once someone shows interest in something, they keep seeing it again, and again. Making your site traffic see these kinds of placements does not happen on it’s own though. Some work is required.

So what about your competitors? What does their site presence look like?How big are their social networks? What are they doing and how active are they? Are they advertising? Are they ranking on certain keywords? All of these questions can be answered with a little research.

I think that the bottom line here is this – You really might not be able to know what kind of website your organization needs to design until you have done some research, or made some structural processes to use the web in your existing business systems. That is not easy by any means!

Companies who want to build a website, and get the most out of it should take these things into consideration. I help my clients with these questions, and design a plan that fits on top of the existing business process control systems. What’s the point of trying to sell online if your current ERP platform can’t be integrated properly? What’s the point of generating leads online if you have have a system to handle those leads? I help hook leads up to CRM’s, then build the process for following up on those leads with actions. There is a lot to it!

Of course it might be easier to just fire up Wix and hammer something out so people can find you and learn about you. The cost for that is really great, and you can take it pretty far. Honestly, a small company can do a huge amount with Wix if they learn it, and push it to it’s limits.

Getting online is really important. How you go about doing it depends greatly on your needs, and budget. I hope these ideas help you navigate this complex world, and remember that Node is here to help if you need a guide.