Figures in the chart above come from survey data on 860 businesses, from 2013 and 2014. All of which had been in business for 12 months or longer at the time of survey.
Not an exact match but they were selected to be close to the business sector profile, fig 2 page 2. This left sole proprietor businesses slightly underrepresented, 69% rather than the actual figure of 75%, a share which has grown following the recession.
Although a degree of subjectivity is inevitable, every effort has been made to categorise each business website rationally, the basis for this is explained below.
No Viable Website - Directory pages were not included, they can help reveal contact details via search but little more. This leaves a situation where nearly a third of businesses have no web visibility at all under their own control.
Associated Website - This section commonly comprises sites built on a shared facility, or part of an advertising, or phone directory package, possibly with a separate domain name. A small number add moderate value but in most cases marginal.
Self Built & Managed - People should be applauded for trying and there are entirely self run sites which are excellent. Equally, owners are in control, their own voice but more than half are below any reasonable standard.
Professionally Built, Self Managed - The owner's effort is important yet much depends on the original developer, how much training or guidance they offered, how easy they made site maintenance. About 65% bring added value to a business.
Professionally Built & Managed - On the surface an ideal solution, website built and a support contract, often including marketing or search optimisation. In general this works quite well but by no means in every case.
Pursuing The Objective
Professional management can help and cost may be justified, providing everyone understands the need and their role. Of the 40 or 50 best websites in this sample, many would be under management. However, 5 of the top 10 are self managed.
Their objectives are to understand and meet customer need, add great content, care for the site. A business with an informed staff member and allocated time can perform as well as many contractors.
If a business is in a global, or competitive national market, they will need help but many just need ongoing advice and their own dedicated input. Professional set up and an occasional helping hand are fine.
Not that we are diminishing professional input, there were exceptions but most entirely self built websites did have issues. They could portray their business but technical and search help are valuable.
The Net Result
A mixed outcome, a third having no web presence is worrying, almost anything is better. Perhaps another third were running on restricted benefit, a business opportunity not taken.
To understand the situation in greater depth, there is a need to look more closely at the outcome. Please see the next page, with further analysis of the research area website performance.