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Many local small businesses struggle with the question of whether to have a Web site or not. You see the advertisements for easy “DIY” Web sites and/or late night ads which promise an easy path to Internet riches. But, the fundamental question remains:
Do you need a Web site?
To answer this question lets refer to a bit of research:
• According to a recent survey by PEW Internet, the percentage of adult Americans who access the Internet using broadband (high speed internet service like cable or DSL) grew from 63% in April 2009, to 66% in May 2010. In increasing numbers your potential customers are accessing the internet at high speed.
• When it comes to buying local, consumers often “ROBO” (Research Online, Buy Offline). Research company Forrester states that online research will influence US$1 trillion in offline sales by 2012.
If after reviewing the above research you think you would like to have someone create a Web site here are a few things to keep in mind:
• Do you have before and after project photos, company logo, a picture of you/your team and a biography about you/your company already written and available in electronic format? If you do not, you should consider gathering as much of this together before engaging a web development firm. It will speed up the development of your site and lower your overall cost.
• Is your company name available as a domain name? One place to check is Whois.net www.whois.net
• Are you able/willing to update the written & graphical content of your new Web site? Most modern Web sites have the capability built-in to enable you to add/edit content. Your prospective and returning customers don’t want to return to the same Web site months or years later.
A Web site that hasn’t been maintained is a sure sign “no one is home” and is a turn off to your prospects and customers. If you aren’t up to the maintenance task ensure that your Web site agreement spells out the number and frequency of updates. In addition, you should know exactly what is/is not included in an update by your Web site vendor.
• Do you have a budget for this project? Professionally done web sites can cost up to several thousand dollars depending on complexity. There are also annual and monthly costs for web site hosting and domain name registration to consider. Be ready for the incremental expense but, also the benefit of a new source of business leads.