Illustration of three people, used for blog 'What is a website, anyway?'

What is a website, anyway?

Posted by Callum Sharp
Picture of Callum Sharp
on 9 April 2020
Websites

‘A successful website does three things,’ explains web designer Mohamed Saad. ‘It attracts the right kinds of visitors, guides them to the main services or product you offer, and collects contact details for future ongoing relations.’

In short, the purpose of any website is to attract, convert and close visitors, turning them into prospects and ultimately, customers.

Webster’s dictionary defines a website as… no, we’re only joking. But Mohamed makes a great point – any good business website attracts, converts and closes its visitors, while at the same time, showcases a brand to an audience, 24/7/365.

In this blog post, we outline the different purposes of a business website and help you understand why exactly your business exists online (and how to exist effectively).

1. Conveying a brand message (and brand image)

A website is made up of a collection of words, images, animations and more, all of which work to do one thing: tell your story.

But conveying your brand message isn’t as easy as putting some words down on a webpage. Your copy must be compelling; it must be keyword optimised and engage with your potential customer in a way that makes them want to find out more about who you are and what you do.

According to Time, the average website reader stays on a page for 15 seconds or less. (If you’re still reading, you’ve already exceeded expectations. Thanks for sticking with us.)

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For most website homepages, then, you must define your company purpose in no more than 15 seconds or you risk losing potential prospects to competitor sites.

While compelling copy is an essential part of this, so is an excellent design, user experience, SEO, image choice, page speed… the list really is endless.

2. Demonstrating expertise in a field

After a visitor understands exactly what you do, they’ll want to know whether or not you’re any good at doing it. This means turning to useful website tools like your blog, resources page, testimonial pages or any other pages you might have that portray your expertise.

The SEO gurus over at Moz, for example, have:

If, after all that, you still aren’t convinced that Moz know what they’re talking about, we suggest you take a long hard look in the mirror… In terms of demonstrating expertise in a field, Moz know exactly what they’re doing. We should all aim to showcase our authority as they do.

3. Selling goods and services

Your primary purpose as a business owner is to turn a profit. Whether it’s by selling a service or a physical product, your website is your storefront, and the only way you’ll sell is by getting more people ‘into your store’.

But selling goods and services online is tough. The competition exists in one place (competing on Google for similar keywords) and it is accessible to everyone at once from all over the globe, all of the time. 

Although selling goods and services is crucial to your business success, your business website first needs to attract and convert visitors, turning them into prospects. Given that:

  • the average click-through rate for the first position on Google is 19.3 percent, and the second position is almost half at 10.6 percent; 
  • the average bounce rate on a retail site is up to 40 percent and for service sites up to 30 percent;

the probability of making sales straight away is rather slim. Investing in attract and convert opportunities is your best bet to make more sales. Websites are a probability game – the more visitors you have, the more opportunity you have to sell.

The primary purpose of any website is to provide value

Ultimately, your business website exists for one primary reason: to provide value to someone else.

Whether that’s by educating people about a topic or by selling something, a strong website gives your entire business value, and the more valuable you can make your offering, the more opportunity you have to sell, and sell at a higher price.

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See also: website optimisation

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