It was my husband’s birthday, and I wanted to send him flowers. I tried to send him flowers from a local florist whose designs we both liked and who does high-quality work. I punched in their website address and got “This site is not active.” A search brought up a link to their Facebook page where I dutifully shot off a message of “Are you aware that your website is down?” Their response? “Yes, we know. We are now solely focused on weddings and operate through Facebook.” Well, guess I wasn’t ordering flowers through them.
Sadly, this isn’t the first AWOL website I’ve come across, nor is it the first website that I intuitively thought would be available only to find that the business owners use just Facebook. Even worse, some have no website at all, only mentions in Yelp or Google, leaving it to the public to tell their story.
Given the reputation problems Facebook is dealing with from the Cambridge Analytica scandal and the loss of trust in the platform by users, if your business is operating solely through Facebook or Yelp/Google reviews, how many customers are you driving away because you don’t have a stand-alone website? Perhaps devoting time to finding the best fit for your company’s web-presence is needed?
Just like Goldilocks, finding the perfect bed to sleep in took some work. Ignoring the issues of breaking-and-entering into the home of the Bears, eating their breakfast, not to mention property damage, the analogy of this towheaded tot’s search for what fits her best is something that we can all apply to our web presence.
This One is Too Hard
I know I’m not the only one who has visited and run from these sites. I’ve come across them on my own, and I’ve been asked to review them – sites for small businesses that contain far too much information. Pages upon pages of data may seem like a great idea, but as an end-user, these are utterly overwhelming. The data provides answers to questions that customers aren’t asking or asking that frequently. Sites like this are cumbersome; there is seldom an easy way to “just find the answer” for which a user is looking – even if there is a search bar.
Managing a build-out of a new website for a former employer, I tried again-and-again to get those writing content for the site to be more concise. Continually, I was told that more content was better. In a “you can lead a horse to water” situation, I could only show the analytics after it was launched of visitors dropping off within one-to-three page views and just as few minutes. There was just too much content for them to dig through.
This One Is Too Soft
Have a website, but it doesn’t expand beyond the company contact information and maybe a few photos? Chances are good you’re losing customers because your website isn’t giving the public what they want. I’ve run into these sites as well.
There was a local dress shop (since shut down) whose website was a cycling slideshow of dresses and their contact information. There was no “about us,” and the dresses in the photos had no info. Could I buy them? What was the price? Did I need an appointment if I wanted to see a specific dress? I held out hope for years that this company would put some work into building a better e-commerce site – and then they shut down for lack of sales.
This “too soft” issue also tends to be a problem with the Facebook-only sites. There isn’t enough information for a customer, and the information that is found is often out-of-date, insufficient, missing entirely (like restaurants not posting menus) or doesn’t suit the needs of the person looking. Additionally, are issues such as companies not interacting with the public (like a wholesale manufacturer) and the fact that Facebook’s algorithm makes it nigh-on-impossible even to reach your fans even if they “Like” your page.
Just because Facebook has free business pages doesn’t mean it’s a useful or smart choice.
This One Is Just Right
While Mama and Papa Bear’s chairs were too big, Baby Bear’s chair was “just right” – until Goldilocks broke it. Bed one – too hard. Bed two – too soft. Bed three? Just right. Finding what worked best took time, but once she found it, she was able to relax. As a business owner, it may be tempting to go Facebook-only or even website-free, but you may be driving away more customers than your business can afford.
There are plenty of options out there from building your own to purchasing a budget model, or even going high-end, top-of-the-line. Regardless of the bed, or website, you’re looking at for your business – the one you end up with needs to be “just right” – not just for you (because someone has to maintain it), but most importantly for your customers and clients who are going to be visiting. If you make it too hard or too soft for them to find what they want or need – they will go elsewhere.
And you want them doing business with you because you’re just right.
Sarah Wilde is an Office Ninja and writer living near Madison, WI. A veritable Jane-of-All-Trades, she’s dabbled in what seems like everything, leaving co-workers to speculate on jobs she might have had. To date, one of her favorite job duties was driving a forklift in a nutritional supplement manufacturing facility.