There are many ways a website can be used to a businesses advantage such as: as a sales & marketing tool; to provide customer support; as the actual product; for employee or project coordination & management; as a public relations tool; and so on. Each business has its own specific needs, and most of these needs can be addressed or assisted with a corporate website.

It seems strange to me, but there are businesses out there that still don’t see the need or importance of a corporate website – this in an era where potential customers begin evaluating a businesses worth by the caliber of their website – to not even have one, or to have one that does not represent your business as you would insist your employees and offline marketing collateral would, can be extremely detrimental.

I have come across many websites lately, for well-to-do and/or well-established companies, where someone in the company used a FrontPage template or, usually for expediency’s sake, created a site that is hard to navigate, does not use company colors or logos, and contains lots of animations. While the effort is commendable, sites like these can only serve to hurt a businesses standing. Remember, “the perception of others is your true reality.” Often, a website is a prospect’s first point-of-contact and therefore, it is a first impression opportunity.

Many years ago, 1997/98 I think it was, a few of my clients did not feel their websites held much value for their business. At the time, each had websites that were developed by non-designer employees, or by a friend. Neither website matched the corresponding company’s corporate identity, nor listed favorably in search engines – these websites did not display either company as a leader in their respective industries.

When I approached each for the opportunity to work on their website, each company said to me, in variation, “we don’t really see our website as very important to our business. It doesn’t do much for us and we don’t foresee that changing.”

Each company, however, soon changed their opinion after I redesigned their websites to be graphically appealing to their target visitors; to better match their corporate identity; provided better in-site navigation tools; wrote more effective sales-oriented copy; started a routine Search Engine Optimization & Placement program and provided continual site updates and maintained their search engine listings.

They noticed an almost immediate change in how the website affected their day-to-day sales and customer support efforts as well as their perceived positions within their businesses specific industry.

By 2003, one of those clients attributed over 40% of their sales to their website, whereas before my initial redo, they attributed nearly nothing to their website … and the other discussed; well they were in their second rendition of their site since 1998 when we launched their first make-over. They’d added a customer area to help share information, process orders and cut costs, as well as an employee area so that off-site staff can better communicate and retrieve company information.

The President’s of each company communicated with me regularly, regarding what needs changing, adding, updating, fixing, etc, They never missed a compliment or complaint from their visitors which help drive the site’s content and features. No longer do they ignore their online business presence.

I’ve since retired from that line of work, setting my fledgling’s free to grow and find new developers and still to date, they realize the importance of their websites in business.

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