A few weeks ago I wrote about some of the things that a small business owner needs to think about when considering starting a website. This next piece of the guide will talk about another important topic: the one page website. Why? Because many small business owners consider a one page website to be simply a cheaper way to introduce their business to the web. This post will help you decide whether or not a one page website is the best solution for your business.
"I'd just like a simple website"
Whenever a small business owner says to me that they "only need a simple website" it worries me a little--not because "simple" websites are bad, but because it usually means that in their heart of hearts they are equating "simple" with "insignificant." If this is you, let me be the first to tell you that the best way to start off on the wrong foot with a business web site is to view it as insignificant right off the bat.
A website can do a lot for your business, even if you don't invest a lot of time or money into it. If you treat it as insignificant, you are simply ensuring that it will be useless.
How to determine if your business is right for a one-page website
Now that we've gotten that out of the way, let's say that you still want a simple website and are ready to give it a little bit of respect. Great! Simple websites can be perfect solutions for some businesses--but not all businesses! Work through the following steps; they'll help you as you make a decision about the kind of website to get.
Identify what you want your website to "do" for you
I wrote about this in the prior article, but I'm bringing it up again because it is one of the key factors for determining what kind of site you're going to need.
Always, always think about what your website should do for you. If you don't have any expectations you can bet your bottom dollar that the web site won't fulfill them. What's more, you'll have no standard against which to gauge your website's success.
Just come up with a short (or long) list of things you'd like out of your website. Here's an example list:
- I'd like to sell my products via my website
- I'd like to write about my business' area of expertise
- I'd like to advertise my business' specials on my website
And so on and so forth. A good web designer can work with you to help you establish these goals if you're stuck. And a good web designer should *always* be aware of what your goals are; it should be one of the first things they ask you.
Identify what your customers will want your website to do for them
Presumably you're not going to be the main one using your website, so your website must do more than just meet your needs--it must meet your customers' needs! So, rather than thinking simply about what you want out of your business' website, think about what visitors to your website may be expecting to find.
For example, let's think about a restaurant owner. People who are looking up your website on the web will probably be hoping to find one or all of the following items:
- address or phone number
- business hours
- today's specials
If a restaurant owner doesn't provide most of that information, their website probably isn't going to meet their web visitor's needs--and if the website doesn't meet its visitor's needs, what's the point of having it?
Sit down (ideally with a web designer who can offer input) and brainstorm a list of what your web visitors may be looking for. Try to make it as broad as possible for starters. Think of anything your visitors might possibly be looking for on the website and add it to the list. Sleep on it. Add to the list again.
Once you feel like you've thought of all of your visitors' possible needs you can begin to evaluate the importance of each. Star the ones that are the most important. Cross out the unnecessary ones.
Assess the amount of information on the two lists and make a verdict
You now have a pretty good idea of what is going to have to be on your website, so you'll be able to make a qualified decision about whether or not a one page website is going to be your best bet. Consult your web designer about it, if you have one.
Basically, if you have two pretty short lists then a one page website will probably be perfect for you. If you find that you have mid to long lists, then a one page website isn't really going to help you--at least not like you or your visitor's would like.
Moving on with the website
After reading this guide, some of you may still decide to go with a one page or "simple" website even if it's not what your particular business needs. You might think, "I'll just take one step at a time; I'll make it better in the future."
Let me advise you against that. If you make a poor decision now, you might get absolutely nothing out of your website. You might get no visitors at all. And the "smaller" amount of money that you spent might go completely to waste. And it may leave a bad taste in your mouth that will keep you from using the web at all in the future--even though it could really benefit your business.
Not everyone has to spend a lot in order to get a successful website. You just have to evaluate what you need and spend accordingly.