Dear Business, I’m scared for you.

Dear Business,

I’m scared for you.

It’s scary to see a much too large majority of businesses still viewing websites as a feature to their business. Yes, what was once a feature like ten years ago is now the price of entry to survive and thrive.

Last night I received an email from a prospective client that went something like this: “Can you give me an idea as for cost of a website only? We have a very limited budget. We just need someone to make it look the way we want.”

First off, asking a professional of any industry to design / build / make something the way you want is like asking a roofer to perform surgery. Ok, that’s not the point, but needed to throw that in there. Anyways, this had me thinking beyond the previous statement. People still view having a website as a small feature to their companies future. “Well I just need a website because my competitors do.” Yikes! Really? Ok, sit down, we need to have “the talk”.

As any respectable design business should, when we receive these types of emails, we try our best to understand the client and educate them as much as possible before sending them on their way. While I understand having limited budgets, digging deeper I’ve found many companies have “limited budgets” simply for the fact that they still don’t see the value in a website. Limited budgets often mean, “we don’t want to spend the money”, Not, “we don’t have the money.” Chances are you have the money, you’re just spending it in areas that you shouldn’t be and not saving more in other areas. The web and its technologies allow us to save money.

I’ll use my business as an example. If I were to put a price on my upcoming redesign of my company site [], I’d pay up to $100k for it. Seriously? Yep, dead serious. My website simplifies tasks which would normally need to be performed by a real person sitting behind a desk. This results in the hiring of more people – also takes time and time is money – paying them salaries, getting a larger office space. My website and blog does my marketing, so there’s one less person I’d need to hire. My website acts as a secretary and online forms help weed out and distribute new work. There’s another employee I don’t need. I’m getting more profitable as I type this, since this article will likely attract reactions. Pretty neat, right? Still have a limited budget?

I’ll jump around here a bit. I can talk about this forever. I’m tired of hearing about the slide of the economy and how those campaigning are going to fix it. Business is changing people. We buy and make decisions differently. “Oh, it’s sad too see Foot Locker file bankruptcy and close over 200 stores! The economy is so bad that people aren’t buying shoes like they did” Then why the hell is Zappos operating like a beast? If we’re doing so poorly as an economy, how are we making Apple the most powerful company in the world? Why not ask Blockbuster why people aren’t watching movies anymore? Oh wait, that’s right. Netflix.

Still thinking your website or online presence is feature? We’re no longer in the era of an ‘elevator pitch’. We run to the web to learn more about a company / product / service / idea. We turn to Collaborative Consumption before making trusted decisions. We don’t want to hear your marketing BS. We want real responses and reviews from real people that used your service or bought your product. We want to read your process through your blog. We’ve been in the making of a new Industrial Revolution and I’m scared to see so many still standing still and blaming depreciating profits solely on Washington. I know. I know that you know that “business is changing.” But do you even know what that means? Or are you just jumping on the Twitter and Pinterest bandwagon because your competition is on there? Do you truly understand the real value?

Your website is not a feature that you can half-ass. Spend some money. Protect your future. A good website works hard for your business. Much harder than many employees can offer.

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Brian Hoff
About Brian Hoff: Designer, Writer and Speaker

I’m a graphic designer living in Brooklyn, New York who loves creating compelling and useful websites and memorable interactions across the web. When I’m not designing I can be found writing, speaking and occasionally part-time teaching at colleges — all on the subject of design. I started this blog to share my passion and experiences with designers and clients. I'm most active on Twitter; say hello: