The business base shown above is not UK typical, more so in the South East. An industrial base below average, technical, and professional sectors above. Retail is well represented, as are business, personal, and household services.
We chose the area for practical reasons and due to available data. Neither does this choice detract from UK wide implications. There is no reason to believe other regions are further forward, if anything, the profile could suggest the opposite.
Online Business Needs
Almost all businesses benefit from appearing up to date, in touch. More so if they offer products or services in technology, or communication sectors, or many professions.
This applies to a business seeking national custom, or local business to business, or consumer services. Appearing able to cope with modern needs is a matter of credibility.
Also a matter of meeting expectations, people expect a company to have a website to provide information. They equally judge by, or get frustrated by levels of technical efficiency.
A website with hard to use navigation, slow pages, unreadable text, broken links. They fail to engage users, or see them leave almost as soon as they arrive. The same will apply to failure to work well on a mobile, or untidy layout, or poor grammar, or spelling.
Although our topic in a generic sense is web design, we have not yet mentioned design. Impressions do count but website owners can overly worry about design in the sense of appearance.
Steve Jobs of Apple built a company on the principle "Design is not just how it looks, feels. Design is how it works." A pleasing image to fit with a business makes sense but usability and valuable content matter more, not least in people's long term perception.
Building A Following
How people perceive and relate to a website is the key. The objective is rarely to have them visit once, businesses want them to come back and to tell friends or colleagues about them.
This isn't new, repeat sales and referrals have long been the bread and butter of most businesses. They now have to achieve the same online, by the same methods.
Meeting need and establishing trust are the building blocks of selling, of creating relationships. A website can and should do this, through technical function, solid information, honesty, references from other websites and rational appearance.
Even where a business chooses to forge relationships by other routes, from social networks to direct contact, their website will form part of the chain. Tell people about a business, or service and most will quickly search for them on the web.
To establish trust, all websites require the elements mentioned but more so in a region focused on "new" industries. Whether part of this sector, or offering services to them, having an effective website is no longer a matter of choice.
Businesses consist of people and they judge by their own standards, a website owner should meet the requirements of their audience. As on the next page, the research area population.