Back to the basics - Why have a website?
This is an incredibly sensible question and deserves and honest answer.
There are those that proclaim to have the sole reason for the success of the internet.
To be sure it has been a life changing experience for most of the globe.
We do not profess to offer a unique answer - just a sound answer to a valid question.
The Home Page tutorial video is titled - Get Started… Build online stores and websites.
It answers this question but not the question... Why have a website?
Next to the getting started video link is the Video Library button that links to “How To” video's
but let us not presume that everyone knows why they should have a website.
If you ask the proverbial 10 people this question you will, I bet, get hundreds of different answers.
So here is one such answer:
As they used to say, “why have a phone or why have email?” We too could just ask: Why not have a website?
When one looks at an internet strategy and tactics to go with it to fit into your current business activities it is suggested that you use basic business principles to make a sound decision.
When telephones, eMail etc were new you had to decide if you were going to be a pioneer user or not. I knew the person who bought the second fax machine in this country. He did so because his friend, a lawyer in Cape Town had returned from the USA with one and had nobody to send a fax to. He showed it to his bank manager… and then there were three… Today you might ask the same question again for maybe the physical fax machine, as we know it, may be on the way out with websites being able to manage content via the push or pull capabilities of bulk or auto mailers and/or with on demand download functionality etc. We agree some bought fax machines and or built websites because the result was immediately appealing versus it being a motivated matter for formal decision. This said, we will here crisply motivate the case for having an online presence but before we do, let us look at another early technology driven information supply channel.
With each new proven technology it was not about you leading or lagging the rest of the market. Remember when having photo’s developed in two weeks to printed pictures was the norm for display in picture albums? We were happy with this until technology offered a faster, more convenient approach and what was a perfectly satisfying process became but a nostalgic memory. Thus the question is not only about your needs but also about what your customers require. Offering 100 printed wedding photos may be ok today but better that they are backed up with 1,000 digital pictures on a flash memory stick.
We are way beyond pioneers at the moment in internet usage and so I suspect you need to ask the question - what is being a part of the "trailing edge" to having an internet presence offering me.
The answer is that you are shut off to the biggest market place in the world. This market hosts users for business and pleasure. So it could be about growing your market and business or about being "cool."
Starting an internet site and building your presence on the internet can be very daunting. To start with you may be very comfortable with working hard and not having to work at answering a whole lot of questions that local people do not need answered because your business has always been there under your management and under your father before you but which web based new customers need answers to. Matters such as:
- who you are,
- whom you want to reach via the web and what you want to achieve become matters that must be answered before the questions are posed.
In the year ahead, driven by cheap cell phone internet access made possible through the East Coast "Seacom" Cable internet usage is estimated to rise from some 6% of the SA population to some 60%! The population, for want of a better word, is going online to browse and network. It is to be the next wave in social behaviour.
So let us look at a few scenarios for internet presence.
We will call them the “Me Me,” “Me Too,” “Me Only” and “Be Cool” scenarios.
If you travel 10 Km in any direction in most large cities you will encounter very many shopping malls. The public have limited loyalties and a large appetite for convenience. Close your eyes and imagine: Shoppers going no line at home before going out to shop for say, a dress, reviewing available options re style and pricing and planning their shopping spree accordingly. If you have no internet presence you may be right but you are likely to be left out completely in favour of the “Me Me” shops that pop up on the internet shouting “Me Me” to attract attention. Now open your eyes: This Me Me trend is already here!
You are a specialist goods and or service provider. There are few like you. Let us say there are only one or two in a big city and none in small towns. To grow their business customer base these companies must reach a broader market. To not be left behind by suppliers in other towns or countries the specialist must go to "war" with competitors way outside their normal home zone. Like in real war which determines not who is right but who is left, niche suppliers could soon, if not already, be at war to survive against unseen competitors situated way beyond their established commercial horizons.
You sell an everyday product to local buyers who in yesteryear would have gone to the local store for say, a cup of tea and a chat before moving on to the book store owner where they would discuss book reviews over another cup of tea and leave with a book wrapped in brown paper and tied with string! Oh dear, you know the answer. You can place an order online after reviewing reader reviews with a choice of book stores in other countries for delivery to your door at a price that well, let us say, is at least competitive. So, do you want to compete locally or internationally? The aura of a in person handshake, the comfort of touch and feel, the confidence of trying on/using the product etc are in favour of the local supplier but video, audio, satisfied customer reviews and more are battling to gain “ Me Too” consideration as an alternative supplier. There is no right, but be sure not to be left behind.
Looking left and right before crossing to greener pastures may be sensible but hey, when it’s cool, most do not have a precondition of being sensible! When the person in the elevator or coffee shop, the school learner and your “gran” are likely to have a website then to be “cool” you need to have a Webo Website to be cool with your own blog, online forms, scroll boxes, picture galleries, video players, marquees, on site music, flip books and much more, such as a landing page gate ( if you want to be shy) to keep your site for staff only, friends only etc to be “Super Cool!”
As individuals obtain more and more gateways to the internet via, facebook, twitter, my space, YouTube, Webshots, Online Picture Galleries and as their online interests grow and are fed by more and more gadgets and internet feeds the need for a personal website to house their own selection of "What's Hot!" becomes a very "cool" practical necessity!