Many small businesses want a “basic” website. That’s fine, but what does “basic” mean? You may be surprised how much definitions of basic websites vary.
Some people include sites with a blog or news section (i.e. simple “Pro sites”) in their definition of “basic” — or even e-commerce websites. True, they’re popular, and simpler than bespoke web applications or community sites, but they aren’t that basic, either. Those types of website tend to do a lot better in search engines, too, so if that’s what you need, just click one of the links above.
Strictly though, true basic websites (aka “static” sites) have a fixed number of pages and aren’t easily editable. Those used to be the norm, and still have their uses (outlined below), but only in limited circumstances. Otherwise, the most “basic” website that can really benefit a small business is an editable, expandable “brochure” site.
True Basic Websites — Static Sites
Non-editable, or “static” websites struggle to compete in search engines, but can still work for some industries. These truly basic websites can be useful when:
- You just need a simple site to list on offline advertising, like print and broadcast media or vehicles
- You’re too busy to edit your own site, or just not keen to do so
Offline advertising, directory links and paid ads on the search engines can make up for poor search engine positioning. Whilst on-site SEO options may be limited, an effective, affordable digital marketing plan can still make a big difference. Static sites can then act as effective contact points, presenting a professional image and vital information to your potential customers.
Being simpler than editable sites, static sites are less prone to hacking and so require less maintenance. I build static websites on my Basic Hosting Plus package.
Editable Brochure Websites
Brochure sites are simple websites consisting of several pages of information — like a company brochure — and a contact form to gather leads and feedback. Some manage with just three pages — the home page, contact page and an “about us” page. However, most add extra pages for each main product or service offered, and often a gallery or testimonials page, too. So, most brochure websites have at least five pages — and often ten or more.
In fact, the more content you have, the better. Why?
Well, successful websites are built for their target audience. They must be easy to find, easy to navigate, and contain the information your audience is looking for — or at least enough to persuade them to contact you. The more effort you put into delivering value to your target audience, the more they’ll feel appreciated. That builds trust — and trust drives sales.
So, whilst static sites can work as brochure websites, being able to add more pages easily as your business grows can be a big help. Also, visitors generally want up-to-date information. So, search engines promote regularly-updated sites. Being able to do those updates yourself offers another big advantage.
That’s also why “Pro sites” make it easier to compete. Having a blog or news page makes it easier to add engaging, relevant content regularly, without cluttering up your main site menu.
Still, editable websites need more maintenance to stay secure, so I build these on my Pro Hosting Plus package.
Special Cases: One-Page Sites & Landing Pages
One-Page Sites have a navigation menu that scrolls down to display screens of content instead of loading new pages. They present a limited amount of information, typically ending with a simple contact form. Single-page websites are really just small brochure sites presented in a novel way.
Landing Pages are highly-focused one-page sites with no navigation menu. They present a specific offer with a single, clear “Call To Action”. Most offer freebies as “lead magnets”, in return for newsletter sign-ups.
Footnote: Cheap Web Design — How To Avoid A Basic Website Mistake
“Basic web design” is often code for “cheap web design”. That’s absolutely fine in two out of three cases:
When “cheap” just means “cost-effective” — that’s just plain business sense. Successful firms invest in cost-effective, professional marketing systems and advice because they know that’s what really drives sales. Good marketing pays for itself many times over. So I aim to provide cost-effective websites and marketing services as standard.
A limited budget is understandable too. Talk to me. Just please be up-front about what that limit is, so we can try to plan the best solution that meets it.
There are limits to what’s feasible, but they vary depending on your exact requirements. Common requirements are more likely to have cost-effective, pre-built solutions.
So, until we talk, the best advice I can offer is to consider what return on investment (ROI) you’re hoping for. High returns (10x your budget or more) are possible, but risks tend to increase with the returns sought. Reducing those risks takes more skill, experience and effort — which tends to require a bigger budget.
Think of your site as a marketing vehicle and salesman combined. Visiting clients in a Ferrari or Tesla can boost sales far more than a Robin Reliant. Still, something in between may be more affordable to start with. We can only pick the right solution if you’re clear about your requirements and budget range.
The Hidden Cost of Cost-cutting
When “basic” or “cheap” means “cut-price, at all costs,” you’re planning to fail. Under-investing in marketing increases your risk of failure. Professional work is not sustainable at amateur rates. So, if you invest too little to get the job done effectively, you turn your “investment” into a pure cost — an expense that will never pay for itself. That’s a false economy that can cost you your entire business.
Don’t undermine your own goals. Invest in the most cost-effective website solutions you can afford. They may not be the cheapest to start with, but they’ll pay for themselves and cost you far less in the long run.