In today’s digital world, most customers go online to find the company they want to do business with. But, surprisingly, a survey by the market research firm Clutch found that 46 percent of small businesses don’t have websites.

That’s surprising news, given how cost-effective it is to reach new and existing customers online. Websites can help give a business credibility, help it improve its customers’ experiences and boost its visibility.

Some other reasons you need a website include:

  • Websites allow customers to visit your store around the clock. They can learn more about what you offer and can review your products in their own time. In today’s busy world, that can make the difference in whether or not you get their business.
  • If you have a storefront alone, you will most likely only draw customers from a specific radius. But a website, particularly one equipped with e-commerce, lets you sell to a wider audience.
  • A website is a modern version of a brochure – it tells people what you do and why your business is unique. But, unlike a printed brochure, it can be updated frequently and is a much easier way to let customers know about new products or services.

Standing Out Online

It’s important for websites to be designed in a way that is easy to navigate and that supports the image of your brand. Customers automatically associate the quality of the web design with the quality of the product, so cutting corners on a website will end up costing you in the long run.

That doesn’t mean you need to spend a fortune, but it does mean that you should be willing to pay to have it professionally designed. And when creating a website, make sure you consider the following:

  • With a number of different internet browsers to choose from, it’s crucial to make sure your site is accessible from all major browsers, including older versions.
  • Beyond being accessible, make sure it works well. That means all the links are live and working, that images and text load and any contact forms or feedback pages are working properly.
  • Mobile-friendly. This has become increasingly important. Your customers need to be able to reach your site from any device, whether it’s a desktop, laptop, tablet or phone. Today, 10 percent of Americans have a smartphone but don’t have broadband at home, nearly 20 percent of consumers rely on smartphones “to some degree” for accessing online services and information. Failing to have a mobile-friendly site is cutting off a large segment of your potential customers. Also, if your site isn’t mobile-friendly, your ranking on Google will slip.

A good website isn’t a luxury in today’s world; it’s essential for success. Working with an experienced designer to create a customer-friendly site can do more than boost your visibility, it can also increase your bottom line.