By Lesa Seibert, CEO | Mightily | mightily.com
According a BCG Report (“The Connected World: The $4.2 Trillion Opportunity,” March 2012), a whopping 55% of US businesses don’t have websites — and they’re not all small companies. That’s a lot of folks who aren’t on the digital highway. The question is, assuming the future’s online, why are so many so far behind, and what can they do about it?
First, Do You Even Need a Website?
If you don’t have a site, there are many free platforms on which you can engage customers and clients — Facebook Business Pages being the most familiar.
Facebook is globally embraced and trusted, it allows you to post almost all the information your audience will ever need, it’s simple to make changes to your page, and you can do everything in real time. LinkedIn is another option, plus it caters exclusively to a business community.
So the short answer is no, you don’t have to have a site to be an effective business operator.
Seriously, Not Even a Small One?
In some parts of the world, websites are as common as business cards . . . which suggests they have a basic value simply as starting points for relationships. If you don’t want to build your own site (using something like WordPress or SquareSpace, for example), there are plenty of companies that’ll build you a site for under $150. Locally firms like Custom Web (customwebchoice.com) will get you sorted out and online for $149
(And then of course there’s your neighbor’s nephew, Willy, who’ll build you one in exchange for a sweaty t-shirt from a Taylor Swift concert.)
You Tease Me, Ms. What Are My Options?
As with most things in life, the more you pay the more you’ll get — well, at least in theory. Taking your site’s quality up a notch or two you can find a freelancer. There’s no central source for this kind of information, so you’re best off asking around for designers and developers with good references. (Google, however, is probably a bad place to start your search.)
Then there are small, specialized web-development firms. Red Garage Digital (redgaragedigital.com) is a new company in Louisville building sites starting for less than $2,000. They have brand-development vets working there, and their goal is to create well built — but small — sites developed specifically for businesses. Since most good freelancers will charge between $2,000 and $5,000 for a mid-sized site, this is an attractively priced option that’ll get you online with a solid level of basic branding with professional support.
Next, you can go to larger web-development firms. These guys are all over the place in terms of what they offer, but they’re all extremely competent when it comes to programming and design. Being geeks at heart, they’re very buttoned-up on process, and you’ll begin with a realistic idea of what’s involved and what you’ll get before you sign on any dotted lines.
For the most part, Google’s a decent place to find a partner, but if you’re planning on spending $10K and up, make sure you talk to at least three different companies before you move forward.