In the last few years, small businesses have increased investments in the websites for their companies. Michael Fauscette at GigaOm writes:
‘In a survey of 1,500 US consumers that purchase products and services from small or medium-sized businesses, 75 percent said that a company’s website was either a “very important” or “somewhat important” factor in their purchasing decision. Additionally, almost 60 percent of respondents said they were likely to spend more with a small business that had an impressive website.’
This presents a huge opportunity for IT service providers who have been neglecting their website or who have not made it a priority in recent years. A well-designed and well-maintained website is now a critical part of your business. Even better, many of your competitors are not yet seizing on the opportunity that a great website can provide.
In this post, we will detail what is important for your website, how to decide if you need a refresh or a complete rebuild, and how much you can expect to invest in both scenarios.
Many businesses, including some in the IT and MSP sector, view their websites as an afterthought. They register a domain name, publish a website with only a few pages, then forget about it almost entirely. The internet is littered with MSP websites that feature garish colors, broken links, and copyright dates from years ago. By paying attention to the following best practices, your website can be a competitive advantage:
The aesthetics of a website influence how customers perceive the business. While the look of an IT services website is less critical than in some other industries the site still needs to instill trust in leads and customers. A website that looks professional and trustworthy will have a clean and uncluttered design. The design will be modern and build off of the aesthetics of the brand. The navigation will be straightforward, with links to details about services easy to find. The design doesn’t need to be elaborate – it’s more about making things simple and well-organized. Images should be big enough that they are still visible when resized, but not too big or distracting. They should be relevant to your business too and not some random stock image of a handshake, support person, or racks of servers up on the site.
SEO is the process of optimizing a website for the purpose of earning higher rankings in search engine results pages (SERPs). SEO is important for businesses because it attracts more traffic, leads, and sales without having to pay for them directly. There are many ways to improve SEO, and it can be a complex process, involving the content, structure, and code of a website, as well as link building and other techniques. Making sure your site is properly indexed and that you are using the correct keywords will help your site rank higher on search engines.
The site should be intuitive and easy to use for potential customers. They should be able to find information about your services and solutions with ease. A potential customer that visits your website for the first time should leave with an understanding of who you are, what you do, and who you do it for.
For example, if you specialize in providing break/fix services for companies in and around the Houston area, make that clear. If your business operates private cloud infrastructure for healthcare organizations, share a wealth of information highlighting those solutions and your expertise.
Additionally, a good user experience means a website that serves the needs of all visitors. Consider that more than half of all web traffic now happens on mobile devices. Your website should be mobile responsive. Additionally, as many as 1 in 12 visitors to your website may have a visual impairment and be using a screen reader to assist them. Your website should be accessible to these visitors not just because they make up 8% of those online, but also because the law says accessibility matters.
If your managed services organization provides any services online, including your support ticketing system, then make it easy for visitors to locate and access this part of the website. Additionally, a revamped or rebuilt website can help you roll back the clock and reset the technical debt you may have accrued over the years. A patchwork of support applications and marketing tools that do not fit together will only hold you back. A website revamp is a great opportunity to put the tools in place that best serve your business – and your customers.
Now that we understand some best practices for getting the most out of your website, you can start to evaluate if you need an entirely new site or simply a revamp of your existing website. The needs of your business are unique. As such, your web presence should fit your business, your goals, and your client needs. Every business changes over time and keeping up with the times means keeping your website fresh.
Here are some factors to consider when deciding whether to do a complete design overhaul instead of a simple refresh:
Once you have decided what your website needs, the next step is to determine what that will entail. The best way to start this process is by creating a website wish list. This list should include everything you would like your new website to do and be able to do. Here are some standard features that you will find on most service provider websites: contact form, location map, blog, knowledge base, ticketing system. Ask yourself if your site has these features and more importantly – are they working well?
Depending on the technology you are using, a website refresh can cost a few thousand dollars while an entire rebuild can cost tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. This price is almost always related to how much time your development partner needs to complete the work.
For example, a refresh where some copy needs to be rewritten and a couple of images changed may only require a handful of hours of work. This is likely to command a lower price than a full web build.
For a brand new website, time may be spent developing a project plan, creating branding for the company, setting up the technical backend of the website, and provisioning infrastructure for hosting the website. This can be many hours of work that have to happen before the first line of code is written.
Generally speaking, a new website can likely be created by a skilled team like eBridge Marketing Solutions for between $10,000 and $20,000. It is possible to spend less, but doing so typically comes with some tradeoffs that impact the website’s ability to help grow your business. On the other end of the spectrum, custom code or complex integrations can drive the price much higher.
From an investment standpoint, however, it is important to realize that cutting corners has its cost. A refresh can serve a website well…for a while. As technology and business needs change it is unlikely that a website from long ago can continue being updated indefinitely. In the simplest terms, think of a car or a favorite pair of jeans: it doesn’t matter how well you care for them, they will eventually wear out and stop working.
Websites operate in much the same way.
Whether you need a complete redesign or just want to refresh your website, the process is not as easy as it may seem. The various factors that go into determining whether to do a complete design overhaul instead of a simple refresh include how old your current site is, if any new services have been added since its creation, if there have been changes in company branding, and how often content updates take place on the site.
A website is an investment in your business’ future – whether it’s a small refresh or a complete rebuild, make sure you put the time and money into it to get the most out of your website. If your managed services or IT organization is exploring how to get more out of your website, our team at eBridge Marketing Solutions can help. From strategy and planning to execution and support, we have helped hundreds of managed services organizations solve their online marketing challenges. From a great website to search engine optimization, the eBridge team can help. Contact us here to start a conversation.