What’s It For?

Why has a website become such an important component of modern business?  Traditionally small to medium sized business have relied on their shop window, print advertising and reputation to alert customers to their services and products.

In some limited situations these traditional methods still provide the greatest value. If you are a small newsagents for instance you are unlikely to gain many benefits from  developing a website. There however a huge number of SMBs and self-employed who are now able to provide products and services without having a physical shop window at all.

I hope you have noticed by now, but in the last decade the internet has become so prevalent that it is now considered an essential utility in most 1st world countries.  The latest figures suggest 1.9 billion people now use the internet (stats from 30th June 2010, source: www.internetworldstats.com). Having a website gives you the potential to reach them.

Even if you only provide services in a local region, often the web is one of the first places people search for local services.  As supermarkets have become ubiquitous, local shopping arcades are being frequented less and less. One of the end results of people driving to town is they no longer walk past your physical shop window. There’ a whole generation of people out there who have never picked up a physical phone or business directory and so don’t know a shop exists unless it is listed online. This situation is not likely to reverse in any imaginable future.

Ultimately the goal of a business web site is to increase your turnover directly or indirectly in a cost effective manner. This goal cannot be achieved by wildly stabbing at it in the dark.  It takes some planning, preparation, ongoing analysis and refinement to be effective.

The rest of this guide is intended to introduce some foundation concepts to help you acheive that goal.