Why Do I Need A Website?
After a huge rebuild of the site, I thought for my first blog on the new site I would write a little about one of my passions that I write the least about, website building and design. To keep it from being a little too much inside baseball, I figured I write out something that anyone could understand. At first I was going to just post one blog but it got a little long winded(surprise, surprise). So I decided to do a series of blogs covering the why and how to. In this installment I will be covering the reasons why you need a website. In future installments I will be covering development, choosing a host, buying a domain, basic code and CMS especially Drupal.
I often get the question, Why do you need a website? You have a Facebook Page, a Google + Page, Twitter, Pinterest, and other social network pages for yourself and the Axiom isn't that enough? Sure the exposure for the Axiom and myself is good but it isn't really my page. The biggest reason to have a website of your own is that you can control the content, how it is presented, where it is present and you own all of it. It's the difference between renting and owning. If you rent you are limited to how the property is used, what changes you can make to the property, what you can put in the property and in some cases even the items you add to the property even though you produced them are in fact now owned by the property owner. The other thing is that the terms of your lease can change often with no or little notice.
When you post a profile to a social network or other website, they give you a long user agreement that most of us agree to without reading. In just about every case you are giving up rights to the content you create or add to the profile to be used by that website anyway they wish. Also in the terms there are limits to the type of content that you can add and you give the right to the website to change the terms of the agreement at anytime. Plus they are not giving you the ability to post to their website for nothing. They are planing on generating income from your uses of the site and anyone that visits your profile. Either in the form of advertising, sales or the collection of personal information.
As a Business you must consider that you are very limited in what information you are allowed to post to a one page profile. Beyond basic contact/location information, a majority of the message you want to get across to potential customers is lost in the endless news feed/timeline. You should also consider what these customers are looking for. Most use the internet to find information in advance of their purchase. They want the basic information like price, location, hours, etc.. but they are often seeking additional information about your products and services that they just will not find on a profile.
You should also consider branding and how the general public is going to view how trustworthy and legitimate your business is if you only have a social network page. It's the difference between a business operating out of a shed in your backyard and operating out of a commercial space. There is a public perception that a business website with its own domain is more legitimate than a profile on a social network and this is rightly so. Anyone can get a business page for free on either Facebook, Google + or Pinterest. To have a website will take an investment and some expertise to do. The reality is that in this day and age, a majority of advertising is designed to point to a website or a brands online presence. The website has become the new Yellow Page ad but unlike a small quarter page ad, a website allows you to develop a deep and lasting relationship with you clients. It is as important as how you represent yourself on the phone, in fact a website is a first conversation with a potential client.
Now you might be saying, "Hey I don't own a business and I'm done reading" but I have to point out what I said earlier, on a social network you don't own the content and you have no control of it. You know the difference between owning and renting. If you create anything and post it to the web to share, it's important not only to maintain control of it and how it is presented but also take steps to insure that it doesn't suddenly disappear. If you are posting to any site that you don't know, you have no control over that content. If the owners of the site decide to change it's policies or throw in the towel, all of your content is gone forever. Regardless of the site and it's policies, the reality is that someone is spending money to store that content on a server and make it available to others on the internet. If suddenly they decide that your content is without worth or not worth their investment, they can simply delete it.
The other issue is who is profiting off your content. In a way even businesses should consider this also. You have to ask yourself if your creation that you have taken the time to create has worth and if so, should someone else profit from your hard work. The fact is that when you post to a social network they are making money off your content because your content is driving users to that site. No content equals no visit or new users which means no income from advertising and information gathering. Consider how many people may read a post or view a photo that you posted, everyone of those people were targeted with an ad or had some information about themselves collected.
In the next installment I will talk a little bit about development and the advantages and disadvantages of hiring someone to create your site or doing it all yourself.