Back in the day…
The first websites did not do nearly as much as they are doing today. Websites contained some text, maybe a few pictures, and your contact information. Wowie!
I am talking 1994; that was when I first saw an actual website. It was quite impressive back then.
It took a while to get our heads around it: the internet was a tool created for communication, mainly through forums and blogs, that would radically change everything. It quickly became very popular, and we started to use websites to share, store, supply and acquire information.
Since then, a lot has happened
Website technology has developed tremendously. Nowadays, we use many digital tools and online services, and websites organise large parts of our lives. Websites can do almost anything. And we do not even think about it.
Yet still, almost 30 years later, many websites for small businesses are only functioning on that same level of providing information and displaying contact details. Some may have added a portfolio and a blog, a mailing list and contact forms, but are they using the potential of all the tools that are available to them? Often not.
What makes my heart beat faster is all that potential. Websites can do our day-to-day tasks, performing many actions cleverly and efficiently. And by doing so, they are freeing up our time and making our businesses more efficient.
Think about it, if all that technology is not making us use tech more efficiently, what is it good for?
Some of the things that websites can do for small businesses
There are so many seemingly simple tasks that can be done automatically. The obvious one is selling products in a webshop (instead of you going out and ringing on doorbells to reach faraway customers). And there are many, many more. I think the sky is the limit here.
Here are a few other common tasks:
- collect information of all sorts
- schedule appointments
- add mailing list subscriptions
- offer online resources
- event registration or booking
- accept payments
- answer questions
- ask questions
- nurture your audience on autopilot
Websites are little systems
I still hear you thinking: Yeah, that’s still just a website. But in fact, to make this all happen, you often connect multiple services, providers, or software.
It’s no longer about WordPress and a few plugins.
You will have to select the right tools for your work and your budget. Then you need to line it up with other tools that you are using and adapt everything to your unique situation.
Let me give a few examples:
- connect a calendar to your mailing list
- add your clients to your address book
- ask leads qualifying questions before sales calls
- follow up on customers by default
- collect and store information about client projects
- automatically ask buyers for reviews after they have received your products or services
- collect payment on your site and send a registration from a second platform and register the payment on a third platform
In all of these examples, there is more than ‘just’ a website needed to perform the task.
These setups or functions are often called automations, integrations or extensions.
At this point, you understand we are dealing with more than a simple website.
In my dictionary, a website system is a website combined with other services or tools to perform additional tasks or functions.
95% of the websites I build will have some kind of additional functions added to them. It can be simple or more complex. In all cases, it saves time, energy and money.
I invite you to start seeing your website as a system instead of an online brochure. This may very well open up the opportunities you see and the possibilities you use!
Work smarter, not harder
Being more productive is crucial in competitive markets. Simplifying processes and automating workflows will save time and money. You may have become so quick and good at many small or simple tasks that you overlook that they can probably be done more efficiently. So stop a moment and take some new information in. Start to look at other ways of doing things. Ask yourself: ‘How can my website support me with this?’
You may be ready for innovation.