If you run a small to medium sized business, you've asked yourself at some time or another whether you need a professional website or whether you can get by and settle for the cheap option of running a Facebook or Twitter account or maybe a blog. Although the social networking options are a great way to connect and interact with current and potential customers, by themselves they can never offer you the same advantages of a real website.

We've put together five of the best reasons for biting the bullet and getting a professional website for your business.

Reinforcing a Strong and Trustworthy Brand

Your online visitors know exactly how easy it was for you to create that Facebook Timeline you've been posting on for the past few months - they've done it themselves and they know it cost you nothing and maybe took a couple of hours (if that) to set up. They're probably not that impressed, unless of course you're using your Facebook Timeline to it's full potential with a engaging Timeline cover photo and Facebook Timeline app. But for the average business, we'll assume that's not the case.

A website, on the other hand, shows that you've gone to the effort and spent the money to have your website professionally designed and developed, your domains purchased, hosting sorted, etc. This automatically shows visitors that you're not just another blogger with a free account on a social network. Your professional website demonstrates to visitors that you mean business; you're here to stay and you're not going to run off with their money.

Extra Sources of Potential Business

Although you might get a lot of followers on Twitter or reach a lot of people on Facebook, exclusively using social networks to promote your brand is a big no-no, as you're practically cutting off ties to perhaps half of your potential customers. There may be a lot of users on these social networks, but there are still millions of people who will never use it, and therefore will never see your brand.

By adding a professional website into the mix, you can not only present your social followers a direct way to use your services and buy your goods, but you can reach an entirely new group of visitors you would otherwise miss - those who search for your brand, services and products on Google and those who have been passed your website URL by a friend.

You can even tie your social networking into your website as a way to entice the public, by posting links to your website's pages on your Facebook timeline or Twitter page and direct them to shop in your online store or visit your website. Since they've already decided to follow or Like your blog, you already have the advantage; they'll be going there with a positive and potentially purchase-hungry mindset.

Avoiding That Tacky, Homemade Look

Have you recently been to a website that looks like it hasn't been updated since 1999, with broken images, strange colour schemes and that weird, homemade look? When you arrived, do you remember thinking to yourself "I'd definitely trust these guys with my money"? We didn't think so.

If your website is as outdated as the Space Jam website then you've definitely got to think about upgrading.

Better colour schemes, layouts and content can mean the difference between 20 and 20,000 sales. Positioning of elements on a page can affect how visitors perceive your intentions, and the right fonts and accessibility features will ensure no one gets tired after reading a few paragraphs of your text. These are just some of the features you probably wouldn't get from a high school or in-house designer.

Your Website With Your Own Designs, Colours and Features

If you have a Facebook account, you know that Facebook Pages feature static, generic templates that shares 95% of its characteristics with every other Facebook page. The same can be said about Twitter profiles and most eBay stores. In most cases, all you're given the ability to do is change an image or two at the top of the page.

By creating a unique website, with your styles and features that you can either come up with yourself or have a professional designer create, you're able to really emphasise your business' beliefs, missions and motives. Instead of a generic white and blue layout that you're given on Facebook, you can instead use greens, purples, pinks, yellows, or any other colour that suits your business. You can also customise features and layouts to really help your audience connect with what you're trying to say to them.

Keeping Your Focus Where It Should Be: On Your Business

Every minute, hour and day you or your employees spend working on your in-house website means you're taking that same time away from your business. A professional website design team can do things twice as fast, and five times as good as you or anyone else without proper experience. If you're unsure whether you should be developing your own website, ask yourself some questions:

  1. Do I know the difference between inline styles and CSS, which I should use, and when?
  2. If I develop the website my way, would I be able to upgrade it easily when needed?
  3. Can I afford to forget about the business for days at a time?
  4. Am I prepared to handle all aspects of the build, including browser testing, spell checking, upgrading?

If you've asked yourself these questions and still feel absolutely positively certain that your love for web design is more important than your current job, then maybe you should switch jobs! ;)

Some Last Thoughts

No matter what your industry, websites are extremely important in today’s markets where instant information is a necessity for earning a potential customer’s trust and attention. By having a unique, easy-to-use website you gain a competitive advantage against any business who has little online presence, or against businesses whose websites are cluttered, outdated and unusable.

If you are interested, we can take care of all of your website design needs for a very affordable price. We're always happy to help!