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You could create a website yourself, but before you do think about

the biggest error almost everyone makes when they design a website, you'll see it everywhere (it's easily fixed once you know) ..

.. and something really very special that you do need a pro web builder for ..

.. and what you can learn from toilet doors

As social media rose up, I started to think that maybe businesses will need websites less. A business can have an Etsy page connected to a Medium blog and a Facebook Page and a YouTube account and .. why have a website at all?

Even if you do e-commerce .. just get a Shopify account.

But then some people (nothing to do with me) got entirely banned from Facebook for yes a transgression but .. no warnings, nothing. Years of work, off switch flicked.

And with the increase in demand for attention. .. No. Hang on. That's lazy and makes it sound like a bad thing. Let me reword that ..

Because the online tools now available to modern businesses are so good at helping you to really connect with your audience, the bar has been raised. Now, we have to get good at making great, engaging, magnificent, shareable, argumentative, instructional, hilarous content to stay ahead.

So .. what .. are we going to park all that amazing content somewhere we don't have control of?

Your website is your repository. It's an asset. Build it, maintain it, optimise it. It has value and it delivers value.

How do we know?

Start with two measures.

1) How many unique visitors does your website get?

This is something Google Analytics will tell you, or Google Webmaster Tools perhaps even better.

We call this figure 'traffic' and Analytics will show you where it comes from. Search? Paid ads? Social media?

What's your plan, do you need more traffic or is everything OK? (Obviously, I can get you more website traffic if you need it, I'm a digital marketer don't ya know.)

2) What value are you getting out of those website visitors?

What outcomes would you like? Sales are easy to tot up, but what if you have a mailing list and you make £10 per person from that per year and they stay for 3 years, then everyone who signs up to your mailing list is worth £30.

In a free market people are free to buy and sell mostly what they want for a price they agree. If I buy a bottle of your artisan gin for £30 it's because I value the gin more than the money and you value the money more than the gin. Ideally, your website will have calls to action that offer attractive value exchanges to visitors. For instance, you might create a lead magnet that offers to exchange something instructional or maybe a money off coupon in return for permission to add the person to a mailing list.

The whole point of the World Wide Web is that anyone can publish a website. However you had to learn HTML (the language websites are written in). Then social media came along with its premise that anyone should be able to publish without having to learn HTML.

Nowadays there are many services that offer to let you point and click and end up with a website for free. Of course, that's 'to start with', and you'll find yourself getting your wallet out later, but anyway.

The point I want to make is that most people can put up a tent, but not many can build a house, and very few of us could build an airport. Simple websites are simple, but things get complicated quite quickly as your business grows and the skillset required, from copywriting to coding, from graphic design to video to marketing, from information science to search engine optimisation .. these skills are real and should pull together to make a successful website.

Back in the day I used to have a PR company and I employed a young guy who ultimately didn't really want to do the job he was in. His role was significant in the business process, but he was giving it 60% or so and we talked about it and acknowledged it and we helped him with his CV and references and so on and to everyone's benefit he got to go and do what he really wanted, but it did get me thinking about people and things that occupy the space where something great should be, but they're not great and just hold things back. (Nothing against the guy, he was just in the wrong slot.)

Mostly, businesses only have one website, and if it's just a meh, me-too website, it could easily be holding you back.

The opportunity is to get a really great website design that energises your business.

When I say that, what comes up in your mind (yes, I am reading your mind right now) is how great your imaginary new website looks. How brilliantly it represents what you are about. Your values, made flesh (or into pixels, whatever).

Take that as read, but I think two other things make a website great:

1) Absolute customer focus. Forget you, talk about them. Talk about their hopes and dreams and how you can help them achieve what they want. People online are goal-oriented. They just want what they want. Give it to them.

This is the single biggest error I mentioned in the headline: "let's do a website", "OK, what shall we put on it?" thinks, well, how is the company structured? No no, stop. Focus on what needs your customers have, start there. Be like toilet doors .. ladies that way, gents this way. Needs first.

2) Look at what information your business uniquely owns. I always use the example of a cake shop. When I walk in, if I could see which cake is most popular, I'd probably buy that.

Imagine if you could claim to make the best of a particular cake in your town. Like Bakewell .. gosh I dream of Bakewell tarts. A past client of mine had people queueing up to buy his crab sandwiches. Anyway. That strategy is data-led.

Hairdressers chat away. Where are you going on holiday? If it were me, I'd maintain a top ten holiday destinations chart. Hell, I'd run polls: Brexit, best local cafe, best night out, favourite films.

Got a B&B? What do your guests do? Where do they eat? Keep five bar gate scores on the side of the fridge and maintain a "best things to do as voted for by our guests" list.

This is the one you'll probably need a pro website developer for.

So let's summarise. Don't just make a website for the sake of it. Make an awesome website that lifts your business all day every day.

Talk to me if you like, I can build you a website. It's what I do.