In the world of digital marketing, people could list reasons why having a website matters. But the bottom line is that only one of those reasons matter. When you’re a business owner, you know that time is money—you don’t need to be kept for an hour while someone runs through a laundry list of reasons that your business should be online. You want to be told what matters in a nutshell. What you say online needs to be done concisely, and the same goes for project pitches. If it takes you forever to explain, you haven’t done it well. So let’s just get to the point, shall we?
Imagine you’re getting married, and you’re looking up venues to host your reception. You Google “wedding venues,” and click through to the first five sites that are listed. Let’s first note that you clicked on the first sites that are listed—you’re not very likely to click through to the third, fourth, or fifth pages of search results, right? Why? Because the ones that pop up first appear most legitimate right off the bat. Once you get onto these sites, you notice that three of them look phenomenal. They have clear, legible navigation, leading you to tons of photo galleries to browse, package options, dining menus, and contact information. You bookmark these sites so that you can return to them later when you’re discussing your options with your fiancé. The other two sites are poorly designed; the navigation is minimal at best, there are very few, if any, pictures for you to see, and there’s no indication of the different options they offer. You wonder to yourself how anyone could think this is a good way to sell their services to consumers, and you quickly close your browser window. Later on, you’re out to dinner with your fiancé, and decide to pull up those sites you saved earlier. You open all three sites on your iPhone, and realize that one of them looks absolutely miserable on mobile. The navigation is impossible to click, and the pictures are all hard to see. The other two sites are designed responsively, adapt to your mobile screen perfectly, and the image galleries are easy to swipe through. Your fiancé is impressed with both venues, you call by clicking the contact number on the site directly on your phone, and make an appointment to tour the two facilities. You took these venues seriously because their web presence instilled a sense of legitimacy in you. It was easy to trust that both facilities provided quality services, because you were able to see pictures of actual events that they hosted, and their website was clear, impressive, and professional. Your company’s website is the cornerstone of your digital identity. It’s the one place that you have total control of how your company is presented, and what information is made available to your target audience. If your website is terrible, your company looks terrible, and that’s just how it goes. Industry authority, accessibility, visibility, attracting customers—all of those things are well and good, but they’re secondary to legitimacy. When you have a well-designed website that establishes your legitimacy, the other reasons why having a website matters inevitably fall into place. Your legitimacy establishes your authority, which improves your visibility, which attracts customers, and the quality of your site’s design (and a big factor of your legitimacy) provides the accessibility. It all comes around full circle, which is why the first, most important, and arguably only reason worth focusing on when it comes to why you need a website is establishing your legitimacy.