You'd think by now that having a business website would be a given for the majority of businesses. You'd also think that by now businesses would have become technology savvy enough that those websites would be more than simple online brochures.
In fact, many top technologists and venture capitalists are writing about Websites second, mobile first.
Are regular old boring websites dead?
Just over a year ago, the US Census Bureau surveyed over 14.4 million businesses and out of that survey came a rather surprising statistic. Almost 50% of those businesses did NOT have a website. That's around 7 million businesses without websites.
It may be smart to jump to mobile first if you're a technology startup, but most small businesses aren't Silicon Valley technology startups. It's unlikely a business that hasn't even developed a simple online brochure is going to have an extensive mobile application. In fact, websites can serve as effective platforms to support a mobile experience.
Being in the business of developing software that turns websites into business tools, it's hard to imagine that the overwhelming majority of businesses still do not have a website. In our experience of developing websites for more than a dozen years, we've seen that many businesses rarely use their websites for more than online brochures.
It seems that not having a website today is like running a business without a telephone in the early 20th century. Probably doable, but those without them were at a significant disadvantage.
What's stopping businesses today from getting websites?
Just like adoption of the telephone in the early 20th century took technology becoming simpler, inexpensive and widely available, the same barriers need to be overcome before businesses adopt websites en masse.
Let's look at these barriers more closely.
Simpler - Websites are still complicated for non technical users to understand. They are made up of computer code, servers, programming languages and advanced graphical designs. The elements that make up sophisticated websites are still, quite sophisticated.
Inexpensive - I can string two cans together and get sound to travel several feet, but I don't have the understanding to develop a vast mobile network that can connect people from one end of the globe to the other instantly. Because websites are sophisticated, it takes people with certain expertise to develop quality websites that can be used as effective business tools. That expertise costs money and creates a barrier for small businesses to obtain websites.
Widely Available - As the technology becomes simpler and we become more technology savvy, more people will be able to develop websites. Once more people have the expertise to develop websites, the cost will decrease and lead to greater adoption. Businesses don't think twice about getting telephone service setup because it's understandable and inexpensive. You plug the phone in (or activate your mobile device) and it just works. Even low cost, do it yourself websites take a significant investment of time and a big learning curve which means there's still a barrier to adoption.
Develop my website for me and do it for free.
The solution for business website adoption could be getting someone to develop the website for free. No more having to build it yourself to save money only to produce a poor result then have to pay someone a bunch of money to fix it later.
What if getting a website was like activating your phone service where you fill out a form on the phone company's website, provide them some basic information and then in turn they activate the jack where you plug your phone into the wall a few days later? From there you simply pay an affordable monthly service to keep it going.
Would more businesses adopt websites if they could have a professionally built and customized website done for them for free simply by filling out a form? I'm willing to bet the answer is yes, especially if the monthly fee was as affordable as the telephone to keep service active.
The telephone, while it continues to become more mobile, is still a significant part of our businesses more than a century after its invention. Websites, like the telephone, will continue to grow in importance to conducting business and will be around for a long time to come.
Let us know your thoughts and we might just develop your professional business website for free!
|About the author
Mark Cenicola is the president and CEO of BannerView.com, developers of BannerOS, the software that helps companies turn their websites into powerful business tools. Mark is also the author of the book "The Banner Brand – Small Business Success Comes from a Banner Brand – Build it on a Budget." Read Mark's full biography. You can find him tweeting on Twitter and starring in videos for the company's YouTube channel.
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