Is The Humble Website Endangered?

Does anyone actually need a website anymore? Should we be adding websites and website designers to the endangered species list? That is a question that has been recently asked by Michael Duff in the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal.

It is an interesting question that all website design companies should ask themselves. At Rake Mark Solutions in Stafford we have considered this and the arguments of Mr Duff and have concluded that all businesses and organisations will benefit from a carefully considered web presence, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the presence must be a website.

Alternatives to Traditional Websites

Mr Duff claims that in all cases, barring those involving very large corporations and e-commerce applications, a business website in the traditional sense (three static pages that can only be updated by a web design professional) can and should be replaced by a blog or a social media application (like Facebook). When you examine these two options the case is not as clear as it might first seem

Facebook: An Alternative to a Traditional Website?

Five years ago you wouldn’t have said Facebook, you would have said use MySpace, which is now essentially a dinosaur in its own right (big, lumbering and soon to be extinct). So who is to say that the new open source social networking platform won’t overtake Facebook in time to come? Mr Duff argues that you could simply move your content across from the old to the new, but that is not as simple as it may first seem.

Also, what would happen to your Google Ranking? Would you suddenly find that all the hard work you had put in over the last five years is suddenly undone? Would you even rank in the first place, probably not? So as a primary web presence Facebook, MySpace, Buzz, take your pick, none of them will replace a traditional website as an effective web presence.

Blogging Software Options

You could use blogging software (for example, WordPress) that you host yourself or you could sign up to blogger.com or a similar service. Blogger.com is restrictive in what you can do. You are using someone else’s website and trying to make it look like it’s your website.

Using blogging software like WordPress gives you a really simple content management system where you can keep your website fresh and exciting without having to pay anyone to make the updates. It’s customisable so you really can make it look like your own site and for a very modest fee.

Other Alternatives

Other alternatives are a variation on a theme. A Content Management System is a website that you can update yourself, but doesn’t WordPress allow you to do that? Of course it does. DotNetNuke or Joomla (two very powerful content management systems) would be a good way to keep your content fresh but would be expensive to set up and would require a web developer’s skill set to use effectively.

Whatever Website Option You Choose, Keep it Fresh

The three page static site is not going to be effective long term but it is still an option for smaller businesses that simply need an online business card with a customer contact form. Updates can be implemented for a modest fee and if the information isn’t going to change very often then where is the issue. A local plumber isn’t going to need an events section on his site. He’s not going to want to add plumbing tutorials to boost his page rank.

For businesses who have the will to update their content regularly (and they are not massively common in the small business sector), then WordPress can be in many cases adapted to fit the bill It’s blogging software, but it won’t look like a blog in the same way that signing up to blogger.com would. Really, what you are looking at is a content management system that uses blogging software.

Whatever you decide, your online presence needs to exciting, inviting and be kept up to date to be effective. The same content sitting on your site for months on end won’t win you much business.  So keep it fresh, but remember, it’s still a website.

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