So you run your own business? First off, you’re awesome! Secondly, I understand you probably have a neverending to-do list. This being said, you shouldn’t use this as an excuse to take shortcuts when it comes to online visibility and in 2017, it’s never been more important to have a knockout website.

My parents run their own Opticians so I witnessed first hand how much they had on their plate. Over the past 25 years they have developed a very loyal customer base, but they quickly realised that to attract a younger generation, they needed to improve their online presence. To do this, we started by designing and developing a website that would be sure to impress today’s generation (the all-important online marketing and social media strategy came later on).

It’s never been more vital to position yourself online with a strong, professional destination that gives customers the impression you mean business and the motivation to want to engage more with your business. So let’s jump in to my 5 Reasons Your Business Needs a Professional Website in 2018

1. No Website? Do You Even Exist?

If you have no website, you’re certainly missing out opportunities for customers to identify who you are and if they want to spend money with you. Nowadays, being able to find a business online is seen as a “given” and if a potential customer can’t find you online, they question your validity and wonder if you even exist. This said, if you have a bad website it is better to have no website. While no website equals missed opportunities, a bad website can actually be worse since it literally makes your business look bad.

Photo by Edho Pratama

2. First Impressions Are Everything

Let’s face it – we live in a world where people Google before they shop, visit online review sites like TripAdvisor before they buy and “check-in” via Facebook wherever they go (most of this happens on their smartphones, more on that later). Because of this, you want your first impression to be the best it can be.

We live in a world where people Google before they shop, visit online review sites like TripAdvisor before they buy and “check-in” via Facebook wherever they go

Beginning with your website, consumers are making decisions about whether or not they will even visit your store, restaurant or office. They’re likely to dismiss you entirely, as well, should they believe your website doesn’t reflect the kind of experience your business – or a business like yours – should offer.

3. What Do We Want? Information! When Do We Want It? NOW!

Today’s world is hectic. Everyone has so much to squeeze into their daily life, they don’t have time to find the best person for the job. They will go to the first person that fits the description of their needs. For example, I want to get my oil changed in my car. I will type into Google “oil change *town*”. I will click on a bunch of websites that come at the top, and if I find that someone looks decent, has information about pricing, opening times and a contact number to call, that will be who I will go for.

This is when businesses with professionally-designed, clear and informative websites will come out on top. Proper listing in Google is very important here, and customers are delighted when there is a “website” button next to your listing, because this creates a sense of validation and confidence in your company, and then they have the opportunity to find out more.

4. A Website Means 24/7 Access

Unlike you bricks-and-mortar location, which is only open a few hours a day, a website is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. You can provide both regular and prospective customers the convenience of reviewing your products and services when your store or office is closed.

Not only that, with so many interactive features and add-ons available, visitors to your website can contact you, sign up for your courses, schedule appointments and even purchase directly through your website even when when you’re away from your desk or after closing .

With today’s busy lifestyles, this is a great selling point when making a purchase decision.

Photo by Courtney Clayton

5. You’re Business, In Their Back Pocket

Okay, with the price of smartphones nowadays, hopefully people aren’t walking around with them in their back pockets. Jokes aside, going mobile-first is key. What do I mean by mobile-first? Designing and tailoring your website to be used on mobile as a priority. Why is this so important? Well, 57% of users say they won’t recommend a business with a poorly-designed mobile site and Mobile searches have grown 400% since 2010.

Smartphones and tablets allow users to have instant access to information. Instead of having to wait until they’re near a computer to do a web search, they can simply pull their phone out and get the information they need. Having a mobile site allows users to more easily explore your practice, without having to painstakingly navigate a site designed for much larger screens.