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Essential Understanding: The Purpose of a Website

The purpose of a website is to contribute to the profitability of your business. If it doesn’t do this it is, from a business standpoint, a poorly designed website.

There are thousands of business websites that are from a creative standpoint thrilling, beautiful, even mesmerizing, but they do not fulfill the essential function of a business website, which is to make money for the business owner. As aesthetically pleasing as they might be, from a business standpoint, they are poorly designed websites.

The purpose of your website is marketing. In order for it to add profits to your business your marketing must accomplish at least one of the following:

1. Increase the number of clients.

2. Increase the average size of the sale per client.

3. Increase the number of times clients return and buy again.

If your website does not do at least one of these it is, from a business standpoint, poorly designed.

This is not to say that making money is the only criteria to judge the design of a website; there is another equally important consideration. Do you have the conviction that your customers or clients receive a genuine value and benefit from your product or service? And do you have the strong belief that you are serving your customer or client by providing your product or service? If not, you have the ethical responsibility to change your product or service. If yes, then your ethical duty is to make it as available and easy as possible for your customers or clients to receive the benefit you offer. In other words, the purpose of a website is to serve your customers or clients.

Customers and clients visit a website for information, instruction, education or access to your products or service. You serve your customers when your provide these. If a website does not serve customers, from a business standpoint, it is a poorly designed website.

When many companies moved their printed brochures online, in the early stages of the Internet, expecting waves of business from an online community it was understandable. It was a new medium and there were many questions about how to best use it. After a year or two and few companies saw any return on investment, it was clear that simply broadcasting a glorified business card does not convince prospects to do business with you.

The web community has greatly matured. Yet many businesses still take the approach of posting what is essentially an electronic business card on the web. Businesses that take this approach still fail to receive a positive return on investment.

Given the poor results of most business websites it’s not surprising that there are still businesses out there that firmly believe they do not need a website (a Facebook page does not count). The reality is that for many of your potential customers, if you don’t have a website, you don’t exist. Customers like to find you on the web, even if it’s only to look up your phone number and hours. Without a website, your potential customers will go to a competitor that does have a website that shows up on the search engines.
Furthermore, your credibility as a viable business drops dramatically and puts doubt to your long-term viability in a potential customer’s mind. If you do not have a website, your customers might wonder whether you even know how to run a business. When you have a poorly built website, your visitors’ impression of your business will be less than positive and they will likely stop doing business with you.

The Web is now a leading avenue of business, and businesses that do not take the medium seriously are at a competitive disadvantage. “From a competitive angle, the Web levels the playing field—every business is lined up on the same street, marketing to the same customers. Companies either thrive or flounder in this flat environment. To thrive, you must deliver beyond customer expectations; better content, sharper design, smarter architecture, and more proactive communication and interaction are all components of websites that produce exceptional results for [businesses]” (Source of quote unknown)

The vast majority of business websites are still poorly designed. The majorities of business owners pay too much and get too little from their business website. The first step to remedy this is to rethink the purpose of your website.

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About the Author

John Lundholm, Change Dynamics
Post Falls, ID 83854

If you would like to re-print this article, please contact the author.
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