Here’s a question I get asked on an almost daily basis. “Ben, I think I need a website but I work in x industry so what’s the point?” And I get it, seriously. I’ve seen clients bombarded with quotes ranging from a few hundred dollars to a few grand for what appears to the everyday business owner who’s not tech savvy as essentially the same thing. At the end of the day most people know they need a website but getting the right website for the business, along with a digital strategy that helps guarantee a return on investment is a critical step in making sure you’re not throwing away potentially thousands of dollars on an online dud.

So, if you’re reading this, and you own a business and you’re looking to get online, let me start by saying a simple truth that I think sums about how the online world works. Websites are like cars. Yep, crazy theory, huh? Some websites are like Ferrari’s, they’re beautiful, fast and resource heavy. Some websites are like Great Wall cars, cheap, nasty, get the job done but there’s a more then likely chance it’ll fall apart within a year. Others are built for a purpose. Need one with a trayback? Here’s a Toyota Hilux. What about one that can handle a little bit of pressure when needed? How about a Jeep Wrangler? Are you getting the picture yet? There’s actually many different types of websites depending on what you really need. With this in mind, how do you pick the right one for you?

Firstly, you need to find someone who you can trust. At the end of the day a lot of people aren’t tech fanatical, some people are great vets, some are amazing chefs, imaginative entrepreneurs and even just great retail owners but many aren’t all these things, and I certainly don’t expect my barrister around the corner to specialise as a heart surgeon on the side, let alone be up to date with tech trends. As I said to a veterinarian client of mine who quipped he was no good at technology “well that’s actually fine by me because I have no idea what pills my dog needs and i’m totally okay letting you take the lead on that one.”

Ultimately, finding someone who can create the right tools for the job is a key to not only spending the right amount of money on your online investment but getting a better return on investment too.

Let’s take two examples of different business types to give you an idea on how much a website can look and behave differently. Our first business is a take-away restaurant. Now, thinking about their customers for a second here, what are they looking for? It’s likely that over two thirds of them are searching for the same thing; the menu, the price, how to order and where to pick up their food, all of which is unlikely to change often, if at all. Building on this, some great imagery matched with some hearty copy to help win over potential customers in the first few seconds of discovering the site will mean the difference between life and death. Handing over info like the phone number in a prominent easy to find position along with an immediate visual idea of what they’re getting is going to give them a major leg up, particularly compared to other competitors who might go with an off the shelf solution that’s not optimised for their industry or brand. With no care, love or thought into the customer experience and burying the contact details on a seperate page in a typical old-school multi-page website (the ones where cheap, nasty website companies say you need a home page, about us page, blog and contact us page) will mean you lose big bucks trying to keep people engaged long enough to click through to see everything. For the other third who are returning customers looking to see how you’re doing, having a blog detailing monthly deals and specialties will keep them interested and feeling valued that you’re taking the time to express your ideas to your audience directly and not just pamphlet dropping into mailboxes.

Example two could be a bridal company selling wedding gowns. Totally different industry, totally different business. Given the dresses are seasonal, being able to change large chunks of photos along with being able to create a news releases when there’s updates on collections that’s also syndicated on social channels and in a newsletter would be the most important factors in getting what the brand has to offer in front of potential brides to be. The difference between our take-away customer and our bridal customer is that the bridal client will spend hours, even days, weeks and months researching where-as the take-away customer spends seconds, and so having a multi-faceted experience on social, newsletters etc. etc. will mean that the brand maintains an ongoing freshness while the bride to be deliberates her choices.

If you’re seeing where i’m going with this, it’s that websites and their corresponding digital strategies are not one size fits all, and the worst thing you could do is buying a website for the sake of buying a website. Instead of seeing your digital audience as a painful, complicated process to manage, with the right support, the right attitude and the belief that you can in fact do great amazing things online you can turn a digital nightmare into an online best-seller.

At the end of the day, the internet is a brilliant thing. Huge and scary, sure, but powerful and cost-effective unlike any other medium provided, just like anything in life, you work with the right people to support you and your business.