By Michelle R. Wheeler | With 2016 on the horizon, the nature of marketing for small businesses is at a precipice. Organizations are no longer paying upwards of $50,000 for a simple website. Engaging with customers and clients no longer gravitates around print material. In this blog series, we will be exploring the changing landscape of marketing for small businesses. Whether you’re a lawyer, financial advisor, liquor storeowner, or freelance designer, the times they are a changin’. Staying on top of these changes will save you time, money, and maybe even a little sanity.
Back in the 1990s, the world experienced the cultural revolution of the World Wide Web. At that time, the field of website development exploded. From coding courses to self-taught gurus, a new industry was born. Since then, platforms like Squarespace and WordPress have emerged as industry leaders dedicated to providing accessible websites to the average business owner.
The Two-Faces of Websites
Like Batman’s nemesis Harvey Dent (A.K.A. “Two-Face”), websites also have two different sides: the front-end and back-end. The front-end is what website visitors actually see (webpages, fonts, colors, graphics, etc.) — the user interface — and often contributes to visitors’ first impressions of a company or organization. When a website’s front-end is still living in the 90’s in terms of design, content, and navigational flow, people notice.
Want to Time Travel?
Take a moment and join me on a little field trip (Magic School Bus style). An online service called The Way Back Machine has been taking digital snapshots of websites since the beginning of the World Wide Web. The Way Back Machine allows you to enter any URL and see what the front-end of that website has looked like throughout time. For example, check out the Official White House website as it existed on December 2, 1998. THIS IS NOT A JOKE. Now let’s jump ahead 10 years to the year 2008 and visit that exact same website. Drastic, isn’t it? To give you one final point of reference, we will jump ahead to the year 2018…wait, we can’t do that. Let’s just see what it looks like today. Websites are not stagnant elements of a company or organization, but rather, constantly evolving animals that need to be continually refreshed.
The Administrative Side
In contrast to the clearly changing front-end is the back-end, also known as the administrative side of a website. While advancements in front-end development are more visually evident, it’s important to understand that the back-end administrative sides of websites have been developing even more! Platforms like Squarespace and WordPress have excelled at creating administrative interfaces that are also extremely user-friendly.
You can think of the back-end (administrative side) as the master control panel for a website. With intuitive settings panels, minimal-to-no coding knowledge necessary, and a plethora of online resources, accessible back-end design means high-quality websites are now affordable to most small businesses.
Websites should reflect the constantly evolving elements of a company and its branding. This is fabulous news considering how easy it’s becoming to manage one’s own website. Even if the only code you know is for opening your parents’ garage door, you can still build your own website if you really want to. You might run into a slight learning curve, but in this digital age, resources have never been easier to find. If you’re not tech savvy, have no interest in building a website, and just want to get it done, I have one message: don’t pay over $30,000 for a website. Anyone charging a small business that much for a straightforward website is taking advantage of you.
About the Author
Michelle R. Wheeler chases after experiences that feed her passions and engage her creative senses. As it happens, her passions are often a culmination of strategic marketing initiatives and creative design work. Michelle’s work at PSM Marketing as a Project Manager and Designer has allowed her to explore her strengths and apply them to strategic initiatives that help PSM clients grow. PSM is an agency that works with law firms and financial advisory firms to deliver ongoing outsourced marketing services. In addition to her work at PSM, Michelle also owns her own freelance design company called Spectrum Design and Marketing.