The idea that a website is simply a place to put information about your business is an outdated one. With sites like Facebook, Foursquare, TripAdvisor, Google+, etc., there is no reason to pay the money for a website that is going to serve the same purpose as those sites.
At TownCrafter we use the term “billboard sites” to describe a website that only provides basic information with no functionality. These sites are a dying breed. If people are just looking for information on a store, attraction, restaurant, etc, they are going to go to a tourism site or social networking site. They are not going to go to spend time on a bunch of individual websites.
At one point in time, it was okay to have a site that simply had some basic information and maybe a note that visitors can call for more information. However, now if a website says to call, instead of having a contact form, you are going to be very likely to lose customers. When people, especially younger people see that they have to call, they are usually going to try to find someone else. It is unnecessary work and they don’t want to have to talk to someone over the phone about ordering food, booking an apointment, purchasing a service, etc.
If you want to have a chance of engaging a visitor to your site, you need to have interactive functionality. That could be as simple as a contact form, or as complicated as artifical intelligence. When we get ready to build a TownCrafter site, we always think about what the right functionality might be. It is different for every organization and every industry, but there is always something.
For example, our plans for a church website will usually include a sermon management system, prayer request manager, and a calendar. Depending on the size and demographics of the church, we may even do mobile apps. The point is to get your visitors coming back. You want them involved and always expecting new content that they want to see.
When deciding what kind of functionality you need in your site, consider first what your visitors would want. Don’t consider what is possible or what features you want. Think about the functionality you need. Using our church example, when you know you need a way to engage church members who are not able to attend services, consider options that bring aspects of your service online. That may include things like the sermons and prayer systems listed previously, or maybe a social media system. These are important decisions to make based on the people you are attempting to reach.
The older generation of websites were built by developers who were needed to make any changes to the site. If the site included much functionality, you would be paying ridiculous sums of money. Today, minor updates to a website can be made by anyone and it can include all kinds of interactive features, for just a few thousand dollars.
Most sites today are built on a content managment system (CMS). These generally include the ability to add posts and pages, edit them, and make basic edits. At TownCrafter, we have taken this to a new level, offering a system that allows you to manage your social media, email newsletter, training, posts, bookings, contact forms, inventory, and much more. This is the type of functionality that is finally available to any business. It lets you create new sites that will save you time and get you more customers.
More and more businesses are going towards this type of system and more companies are going to be offering systems similar to ours. Getting on board now can mean big things for your business.