What sets apart a professional website?

The ever-growing importance of an optimized site for business

In the 2020s, it’s not enough for hindsight to be 20-20. Things are moving quickly, and it’s more important than ever to keep an eye toward the future.

As this decade begins, the digital age is escalating even more quickly than anyone anticipated. Long gone are the days where we “go online.” We live online.

Stay-at-home orders in spring 2020 led to an immediate 8% increase in the average amount of time people are spending online – 12% for people over 55. This wave has accelerated the ubiquity of internet use and plunged us deeper into the digital world.

If it wasn’t already time to cultivate your business’s online presence, now it’s absolutely imperative.

Let’s talk about square one – your website. Everything else your business builds online (social media communities, emails, etc.) will have roots on your website, and it can be a powerful tool for finding and converting prospects.

Not all websites are created equal. Some are built to compete. Others are destined for defeat (even if they look alright).

So what’s the difference between a competitive website and a weak one? It’s more than meets the eye.

“User Friendly” vs. Professional Web Development Platforms

There are many website development platforms out there.

Our first variety we’ll call “user friendly.” These include popular web services like Wix, Squarespace, and countless others that make it easy for almost anyone to build a website. They are great for fun personal sites, professional portfolios, or small businesses who just want a place to display what they offer.

While these sites enable the average person to create a website, they are less powerful and offer little freedom or control for professional web developers. They generally limit you to themes and templates provided by the platform, and you have little if any access to the code that the website is built on (more on this soon).

So there’s nothing wrong with a user friendly web development platform – unless you’re serious about competing and growing your business.

For that, there are professional web development platforms, where winning websites are made. The most popular of these is WordPress, which powers close to a third of the world’s websites. WordPress is well-regarded because it is an open source platform, meaning any web developer can create tools for others to use.

Thus, the sky’s the limit when it comes to customizing your website, marketing your business, and creating the best customer experience on your website. Professional platforms also allow your website to be better found and ranked by search engines.

If you’re serious about business growth and competing with other players in your industry, the only choice is a professional, optimized website.

Weighing Both Options

If you’re a small business looking for a simple place for customers to look you up, then a user friendly web platform may actually be the way to go. And in certain industries, you may still be able to succeed without a great website.

But the number of such industries is constantly shrinking, and even if you belong to one, then a highly professional website can give you an edge on the competition who have been sleeping on the digital revolution.

If you’re thinking, “I can create a basic website now and then upgrade to a professional WordPress site later,” you’ll end up paying much more in the long run. Transferring platforms is a headache, and the time and money spent now on a cheaper option will be wasted once you realize that you should have had an optimized website all along.

Trust us. We see this all the time.

If you’re serious about growing your business, beating your competition on Google search results, constantly attracting new prospects, and efficiently converting those prospects into customers, only a professionally designed website will give you the advantages you need.

It will put you in a higher class and give you many advantages that will be crucial to business growth through the 2020s and beyond.

Let’s break it down.

Strengths of a Professionally Optimized Website

#1 – Search Engine Optimization

SEO is your website’s ability to rank in a prominent place on search engines, namely Google. Google’s rankings are done by a “robot” that visits websites around the world wide web. A site may be beautiful on the surface, but that beauty is screen-deep. If the code underneath it is messy, Google’s robot will have to take longer and will have an unpleasant time on your website, so it will rank your pages lower.

Professional web platforms give you the best ability to optimize for SEO, with much greater ability than user friendly platforms to clean up your code and write it in a way that keeps Google’s robot happy. Plus, professional platforms allow you to write code, called Schema, that communicates behind the scenes, directly with Google, to convey your website is about and boost your rankings in relevant search results.

When someone searches for your product or service, you want to be the first name they see. You want to be chosen. Only 4% of Google searchers go to page two. If you’re in an industry where even a few competitors have an optimized website (and you don’t), you’re already out of the game. There is very little chance you’ll make it on page one.

We cannot stress enough the importance of SEO in today’s business world. Online search is the way customers find what they’re looking for.

Ranking on Google page one is like having a prime storefront on Main Street.

#2 – Mobile Friendly

In 2019, 63% of Google searches in the US were conducted on a mobile device. For some industries, it’s above 70%, and these numbers increase every year. So chances are, most of your website visitors are on their phones.

A professionally optimized site (once again) provides greater ability to show up beautifully on desktop and mobile.

User-friendly web platforms give you some control on mobile design, but it is somewhat automated and doesn’t always respond correctly. It’s frustrating. The result is often a good-looking desktop site that becomes a mess on your customers’ mobile devices.

A mobile-friendly website is another crucial factor in modern marketing and a prerequisite to thriving in today’s business world. If your mobile site is a mess, website visitors won’t take you seriously, and prospects will abandon you.

#3 – Design Flexibility and Data Tracking

This advantage has to do with your company’s unique identity and offerings. On professional open source platforms like WordPress, the capabilities for your website are virtually limitless. On a professional platform, you have much more flexibility on elements like site design, e-commerce, communication with customers, and more.

In addition, you’ll have better Data Tracking.

One of the key advantages of digital marketing vs. traditional marketing is the ability to analyze data. While you can measure your traditional marketing, digital marketing allows you to do so much more precisely and also to target your audience (so you don’t waste money targeting the wrong demographics). It tells you what’s working and what’s not, so that you can make your marketing efforts more efficient and effective.

User friendly platforms have some options in these areas. But professional platforms, because they can be better tailored to specific needs, provide more and better options for just about everything.

Looking Ahead

Google has announced a new major ranking factor, called Web Core Vitals, that will hit the scene in 2021. Web Core Vitals evaluates user experience factors like the loading speed, responsiveness, and stability of web pages.

Underperforming on these factors already creates a 24% increase in users who will abandon your website. (Think of hungry potential customers who take one look at a restaurant, notice poor service, and keep walking.) The impact of Web Core Vitals will be even greater when they become an official Google ranking factor this year.

Is your website ready for 2021?

Optimization for SEO and mobile, design capability, and data tracking might be the most important advantages of WordPress and other professional web development platforms. But the list goes on.

User-friendly web builders have two advantages: they’re easier and faster to use (i.e., cheaper up front). That’s it. WordPress may take a steeper learning curve or more of an initial investment, but in every other way, a professionally optimized website provides more value than a site built through a simplified, user friendly web platform.

When you factor in ROI, it’s not even close. Your business will perform much more strongly, and your bottom line will increase. If you’re serious about growing your business and competing in your industry, then don’t bring a tricycle to a bike race. Get your website done right, professionally, and your whole business will be elevated.