The phrase “you need a website” is simultaneously the best and worst advice we’ve ever heard.

Does your business need a website? Absolutely! It’s actually the best advice we’ve ever heard. The reason it’s also the worst advice we’ve ever heard is that most people don’t go into enough detail when they give their best advice, so when people are left to rely on the implementation of half-baked advice, it makes for some of the worst advice out there. Simply saying “you need a website” isn’t enough to help business owners understand exactly what they need, or why.

What is a website, anyway?

According to “Internet Live Stats” as of September 2014 there were 1 billion websites on the internet, and thousands more have been added in the years since that milestone. A website is simply one or more code files that tell your computer what to show when you visit their internet address.

It sounds complicated, and it is… so rather than ramble on about how the internet works, how about we skip all the tech-talk and discuss how it can help you and your business?

There are 3 basic types of websites and your website can be one or any combination of the three.

An Online Brochure

A brochure-style website is what most people think of when they mention a website. It’s the way websites used to be, but technology has moved forward a lot since then.

The strategy of a brochure-style website is usually a “set-it and forget-it” option, since brochure sites are informational and descriptive, but not updated with fresh content for long periods of time. This style of website typically doesn’t include a strong call-to-action, but most of the time it has a contact-us link of some kind.

eCommerce

A traditional eCommerce site is like an online ordering catalog with product descriptions and an online shopping cart. These sites are great for a business with a large number of products for sale.

Many people see traditional eCommerce websites as the main purpose of a business website, but that’s not necessarily the case. In many cases people will use a website for product research before making a purchase. This is why it’s helpful to assume the target audience doesn’t know where they’re going, and use other pages to drive them toward the products they are most likely looking for.

Landing Page

A landing page is like an attention-grabbing welcome page. Landing pages are typically single-page websites with a strong and urgent call-to-action. Landing pages are great to pair with ads or other marketing efforts because they’re ideal for presenting a single offer to your target market.

Each landing page is typically associated with one product or service, so they are not typically connected to other pages on the website other than an order page and a privacy policy or terms page.

How do you get it to work for your business?

If you think about a physical location for your business, people walking down the street might see your signs, they might see your building, and they can walk in the front door. The internet isn’t quite as simple because the internet doesn’t have streets people can walk up and down to browse through shops and offices.

A website is more like having a storefront on a weird back-road with no sidewalks. You can’t simply build it and expect people to show up. You need traffic. Yes, much like foot traffic or cars who would see your physical store, you need web traffic to see your website. There are tools and tactics that can be used to tell people how to find you, and direct that web traffic to your website.

Traffic is arguably the single most important factor about a website. Once the traffic arrives at your site, then your design, copy, and call-to-action will all get their chance to shine and you can work on converting sales, but if there’s no traffic then even the most beautiful website on earth won’t convert a single sale for you, because no customers will see it.

There are a few ways to get web traffic, and that is the key to building a successful website. SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is best for building traffic over the long-term, and advertising is usually helpful in building traffic in the short-term. Somewhere in between those is sharing and social media. A nice mix of these three tactics can create a well-rounded marketing strategy for your website.


This article was originally commissioned by Onslow Creative. Due to technical issues a link to their website is currently unavailable.