A SURVEY OF 145 UK businesses by Fasthost has found that two thirds of businesses know their website requires attention. However, a third repeatedly neglect making the changes, preferring to spend time on other aspects of the business.
The majority of UK companies recognise that having a web presence is a vital aspect of modern business. However, one in four are unhappy with their website design and a further 25 percent are concerned that their site lacks methods to communicate with customers. Beyond this, one in five seek additional eCommerce functionality, 18 per
cent need to replace outdated images, and one in ten wish to replace their entire website.
Steve Holford, CMO at Fasthosts internet said ‘In challenging economic conditions business owners are more stretched for time and resources than ever. However, it is important to remember that often the simplest improvements to a website can make a noticeable impact on sales conversion rates. Even a modest business website must receive regular attention to fulfil its potential’.
AS MANY OF Britain’s small companies achieve ever growing success online with increased visibility, communication and eCommerce, some firms may even wonder how they operated before the internet. However, today it is also the case that many other British enterprises have simply been left behind. 1&i’s ‘lVlicro Business Online
Survey’, of 530 micro—sized enterprises, found that 46 per cent of Britain’s smallest firms are still without a website and many seek assistance in getting one. While the business owners involved are likely to use the web in their personal lives, their enterprise activities remain out of sight of millions of potential customers.
The study of enterprises employing under three people (including dentists), found that from those still offline, 41 per cent do seek a web presence to help increase their sales, but first need specific concerns to be addressed. Current efforts by vendors and web professionals have not succeeded in fulfilling the needs of these owners. For one in
five of these owners, the worry that a lack of a website may be losing them business has caused negative emotions such ‘stress’ and ’anxiety’.
What are the barriers that still prevent such firms from launching online? Perhaps most alarming, nearly half (47 per cent) of those without a website remain unconvinced
that a website could actually benefit their type of business.
Approximately 13 per cent still believe that their customers do not use the internet. The data shows that scepticism is not correlated to the age of business owner, as one might
guess, but is directly linked to the size of company – single- person enterprises are most likely to believe that the internet is of no benefit. A common misconception is that
the internet will only deliver access to a new market beyond their local area. This is in stark contrast to the experiences of small firms already on the web. A further study of 250 small enterprises cited time pressure as the main deterrent. While 80 per cent of businesses already online say they would be willing to have a go at building a website themselves, there will always be a significant number of micro—sized firms that will need a web designer to manage their web presence. One in ten owners without a website do not believe that they could maintain a website themselves.
The plight of Britain’s smallest companies stranded offline presents a huge opportunity to the web design community. A significant number of companies see the theoretical benefits of a website but remain without help to overcome their concerns. Web pros have been instrumental in enabling so many UK SMEs to derive great value from the web, but now is the time to make an extra effort to rescue our smallest enterprises from offline obscurity. Research indicates that many are willing to embrace the web but simply require a helping hand.
ln the presently challenging economy, you could argue that now is the ideal time for professional web designers to target such enterprises. lf web pros can successfully
address the concerns and expectations of this group, the result could make a real financial impact on them as well as the enterprises they help. By focusing on needs of vertical
sectors, web pros can inspire business owners to take their place online.
It is a common misconception that the UK’s broadband revolution has already enabled every business to participate online. It is equally inaccurate to think that those offline
are more suited to the sidelines.