We do not wish to devalue any effort to take part in the web. A social page, or a local directory entry can bring business but for most, are not sufficient and waste opportunity.
A business needs a viable website to compete, perhaps to survive. Stating conclusions will make more sense after presenting the evidence but we can say that many businesses are falling short. A lack of critical knowledge putting them and the UK economy at risk.
Methodology and Goals
Although web design is the common phrase for building websites, we will look at more than design. Technical barriers and needs, essential principles of running a website and the current performance of 860 business websites.
We thank the Department for Business for assisting with research data. Our own data comes from a comprehensive study of a defined area, along with input from analysts based in the area.
We confined this to Elmbridge, Woking, Runnymede and Spelthorne. A population of about 410,000 within 110 square miles. All charts refer to those four boroughs as one unit, how representative the area is of the UK is outlined on this page and page 2.
Our survey detail on company websites is confidential and provided as aggregated but accurate numerical data. Data from the Department for Business and the analysts has in the main been taken as is
The intention was not definitive research on each business, or each website. Jargon, technical detail and long pages of statistics have also been avoided.
Our objective was simply to paint a picture of how UK business is using the web. Data, charts and notes on good practice are there to create context. What is revealed on the current situation is more important to regional and national development.
The Research Base
As the data on page 2 shows, the area has a high level of professional, technological, or service based commerce. The population profile on page 3 matches this, in terms of employment and economic status.
The business profile is not UK typical, although is a better match to new company formation nationally, to the future. Sectors which are well represented also tend to have a higher spend on the web, to a degree a higher need for web engagement.
Solutions for business owners to compete online are vital everywhere but need can be heightened by local demographics, where companies must work with the web to prosper.
They can not afford to misunderstand. A business may for example assume that web design is an end in itself. Yet if they asked a printer to design and produce leaflets, they would know they still need to get them to the right people.
Our hope is that clarity will help businesses, agencies who support them and website providers.
Business apart, there are downsides for consumers if the web is an unequal field. They fail to access the best businesses, just those who perform best on the web and in search.
The focus of this report is on why a proportion of businesses are failing to reach customers and how this could be solved. We take a detailed look on page two at the research area business profile.