Are Websites still relevant these days?
With all the myriad websites out there today, is it still worthwhile investing in an online presence? How will people ever find my site? Would Social Media work better for me (and it's free)? Would an App be a better option for my product or service?
In my view, while there are many ways to be found online, a website is still the best first point of contact for any business. Your company website is your 'online home' – a place where you can clearly present your brand, your product or service without the constraints placed upon you by other online channels. Here you can tell your story the way it should be told. An additional bonus is that you can optimise your website to ensure you are found more easily (SEO) and you can track visitors to your site, use analytics tools to monitor their experience and make any necessary modifications to improve said experience.
While you can build a 'free' Social Media presence for your business by yourself in an evening, you are always constrained by a format that limits the way in which your brand material and your content is presented. As these formats and styles are set out by the Social Media channel (who have been known to change them at random) it's hard to stand out amongst the crowd. Even options for the identifying tag for your Social Media pages can be limited by the channel owners. And Social Media done well will take a significant investment of your time so it's not actually as 'free' as you might think.
What about Apps? At times we have been approached by clients saying they needed an 'App' for their business when what they actually needed was a website that worked as well on mobile devices (such as Smartphones) as it did on larger 'traditional' screens. A mobile-first 'responsive design' methodology takes care of this and, in fact, should always be considered when building a website. Actually nowadays there are very few websites that don't meet this criteria (and the sites that don't include this feature are usually old and in need of updating in many other areas).
Where an App comes into its own is when you are presenting a unique experience such as an online game, 'Real Time' information (for example a media service such as news agency Stuff), or a specific tool (think online banking, customer loyalty schemes or more recently the COVID-19 Contract Tracing apps). These Apps offer special functions, 'real time' information and added layers of security. They can often support or enhance your marketing efforts. But for all that, Apps are not ready to replace websites as a primary online 'home' for today's business. Here are a few points to consider:
Stat counter GlobalStats confirms that at the present time the split between 'mobile' versus 'desktop' visitors to websites is still close to 50/50. So promoting your business solely by using an App is going to lose you around half your potential clients.
According to Mobile Intelligence Agency Quettra the average App loses 77% of its daily users within three days. This means that if your App doesn't deliver a valuable 'User Experience' it will quickly be forgotten.
To use an App, users need to locate and download the App, and invariably then 'authenticate' to get the full 'User Experience'. A significant number of people don't want to do this.
Google is still the 'first port of call' for the majority of Internet users. But Google doesn't search and index your App content. So your chances of being found online by virtue of what is in your App are non-existent.