“Do I need a website? Really? Can’t I get away with a Facebook Page? Or an Instagram account? A YouTube channel? Or Pinterest? Twitter? LinkedIn? Or one of the other social media options out there?”
Let’s look at this from a place of not knowing.
Remember Google Plus? Or Friends Reunited?
One thing that strikes me about social media is how ephemeral it is. You can put a lot of time and energy into your presence on a platform, like MySpace, only to have it fall out of fashion. A few years ago, TikTok didn’t exist. Around that time, Vine did. (Here’s an article looking at why that massively popular platform died.)
Facebook, although huge, might be only five corporate disasters from oblivion. (It’s amazing to remember that this household name was only created in 2004!)
Your own website offers stability
If you have a website, you are free to try any social media platform for size. But you will not lose your shirt if a CEO, for example, accidentally collapses a major democracy.
Depending on your audience (see below), you get to choose the social media that’s most likely to work (see above). You can throw out the old, or welcome in the new, at the click of a mouse.
The terms and conditions are yours, and not subject to the whims of faceless lawyers (see in hell). Your house is not at risk, et cetera.
Why do I need a website?
Have you ever admitted, “I don’t have a website”? Or have you asked someone who’s trying to sell you something, “Do you have a website?” Or hovered over a box on a form that invites you to enter your website address?
My feeling is that, in the early 21st Century, a website is essential. Even if you don’t need one now, you will. (And the longer your website has been alive, the better. It’s one of those things, apparently. I don’t make Da Rules.)
Do I need a website for my business?
Yes. Next question.
If your business is not on the Internet, then your business will be out of business.Bill Gates – Something to do with computers
What about my other interests?
A website is a wonderful way to express your creativity.
Whether you’re a writer, musician, artist, potter, knitter, photographer, cook, thinker, gamer, finder of books, coins, flowers, or birds… You can create a website to share your passion – and help make the world a better place.
You’ll love how easy it can be and how beautiful it can look.
With WordPress (for example), you don’t need to worry about design. You just choose a Theme you like and away you go. The Themes are fully responsive, so they work on any device.
Through WordPress.com, you can even have a permanently free url. You’ll never need to concern yourself with updating Plugins and WordPress versions and the other things that go with managing your own site.
All you need to do is think about the content. Then build it to your specifications. Then improve and amend it to your heart’s content.
Do I need a blog?
Not necessarily. But a blog can be a great way of attracting new readers to your website.
You can choose a search term related to your website and write a post on that. That’s what I’m doing with this post, today. I chose “do I need a website” as my focus phrase. According to the SEO Plugin I use, only 100 people a month search for it. But every one of them is someone that needs the information I have to offer. If you’re one of them, I’ve hit my target.
A blog is also a way you can put more of yourself into your website. Your main website pages will stay largely the same (although a few tweaks every week or so are useful to show Google your site is still alive). Your blog is where you can be topical, seasonal – “windswept and interesting”, as Billy Connolly would say.
It can keep people coming back to see what’s new with you – and that’s got to be something you want. Whatever you’re doing.
Who is my website for?
This is a fundamental question, and one you should contemplate for several days, at least. (Unless your website is for your own pleasure, in which case, get online and have some fun!)
If you are looking for a customer, or a client, you need to have a very clear idea about who they are. This will affect everything about your website: word choice and image choice, colour palette, links to relevant social media, subjects for blog posts, your offer, timings – everything.
The importance of this CANNOT BE OVERSTRESSED. It’s a key part of the website blueprint I complete before I work on any website. The blueprint that forms the foundation of Your Website Course. If you want a sneak peak, you can order it for £10, a price I’m told is far too low. (I’ll refund you if you ever become one of my students.)
Websites can make millions…
Back in the noughties, while working at Publicis Dialog in London, I wrote a website for a housebuilder called Wilson Connolly. Because I approached it totally from the customer’s point of view (see above), it was different from other housebuilders. Apparently, it became known as the best in the business, which is something I always aim for.
A few years later, this housebuilder was bought by Taylor Woodrow. I noticed they kept the website pretty much unchanged. Later still, Taylor Woodrow (I’m getting to the point) merged with Wimpey. The other day, I looked at the current website and saw much of my design input and original wording is still the same. If it didn’t work, they wouldn’t use it.
I shudder to think how many millions – probably billions – that website has helped change hands.
…or nothing at all
At the other end of the scale is a website of mine that I won’t even name. It’s an anonymous blog about what life is really about, according to my current understanding. It has very few followers and I don’t publicise it in any way.
For me, it’s important to have these thoughts out there in the world. It will never make any money – not for me, anyway. But even if it helps one person discover more about the unspeakable beauty and depth of this experience called life, that will be enough. Even if that person is me.
These are the extremes. The website you need will fall somewhere in between. If you want to work on it with me, I’d be delighted to help.
Alex Crowe helps people create and manage their own websites. He has created Your Website Course to walk students through the whole process, step by step. Graduates know everything they need to build and maintain a WordPress website, without the need to employ a website designer. The course takes place over Zoom, due to Covid restrictions.