Having an Internet Presence
If you're wondering whether you need a presence on the internet, you're not alone. If you're struggling to make sense of the various options, welcome to the club. Thousands of people, organizations and businesses are in the same situation. That's what this page is for -- to help you understand the possibilities and make the right decision.
What Is An Internet Presence?
Many feel they need to get their business/organization "on the internet". Often they aren't sure exactly what this means, but think they should be doing it.
Being "on the internet" is a bit vague and could mean many different things. We use the term "Internet Presence" to describe all or any of the possibilities, but more specifically, being "present" and visible on the internet so that other people can find you. Here are some of the things your internet presence might include:
- Access to the internet
- E-mail address
- Listings in directories, search engines, etc
- Other communication tools
Do I Need An Internet Presence?
Some organizations really don't have much use for the internet, in fact many small businesses survive without a computer at all. However, if you're in business or if you represent an organization of any kind, then we can almost guarantee that some sort of internet presence will benefit you. It may be a full-blown website, it may be a lower-cost alternative, it may be a simple listing in a directory. In any case it makes sense to explore the options.
What if I Don't Use the Internet?
It doesn't matter. You don't necessarily need to use the internet to have an internet presence, just as you don't need to read the phone book to be listed in it. Just remember that most other people do use the internet -- more and more use it as their main source of information. If you're not there, you're slowly becoming invisible.
Do I Need E-mail?
Do you need a postal address or a telephone? If not then maybe you don't need an email address. Otherwise you certainly should be considering it. Even if you've never needed an email address you may be surprised at how useful it can be.
Do I Need A Website?
This is a more difficult question and you should probably to talk to someone with experience if you want the best answer. Generally speaking, you should have a website if any of these criteria apply to you:
- You would like to provide information about your business/organization to the public.
- You would like people to have a good chance of finding you on the internet.
- You would like your business/organization to have a professional image.
- You would like to sell goods or services over the internet.
There are many other reasons to have a website but these are the most common.
Okay, I Want A Website. Where Do I Start?
We can't emphasise this enough: It's absolutely critical that you discuss your situation with someone who has a lot of professional experience with websites. The biggest mistake we see is when people dive into creating a website with no professional advice. It's common for the family computer enthusiast to take on the job, or for a business to delegate it to whoever seems to know the most about the internet. Don't fall into this trap -- you will end up wondering why your website doesn't perform.
Making a website isn't just a matter of creating good-looking pages. Sure, you can learn to make a website in a few hours with a program such as Microsoft Frontpage or Publisher. You can also make a website online using a service such as www.geocities.com. However there is much, much more to it than that -- the website itself is only one part of the process. It takes years to learn all the intricacies of the internet and to know how to avoid the pitfalls. It takes years to learn the difference between a site that looks good and a site that performs well. This is why people spend years in tertiary education learning web design.
You don't necessarily have to hire someone to create your website, but you must at least consult a professional about your internet strategy.
If you do want to make your website yourself, we can help get you started. There are places on the internet which offer tutorials and advice, and in theory you can learn everything you need to know online. Remember, only take this road if you're prepared to spend hundreds of hours learning.
If you decide to have a website made for you, contact us or any other professional designer with a proven track record. For more information, see Choosing A Website Designer.