Research released last month by the Innovation Partnership reckons that everyday Kiwi businesses could add $34 billion to the New Zealand economy if they made effective use of the internet.
The research – funded by Partnership members Internet New Zealand and Google – shows that businesses that make effective use of internet services are six per cent more productive than average businesses in their industry. See more here.
Then last week Phil O’Reilly, a member of the Innovation Partnership Leadership Group and the chief at Business New Zealand, waded in by saying that more than half of New Zealand’s small businesses have no website, and that to remain competitive most New Zealand small businesses should be investing in websites.
Yes that’s good stuff because we need much more numerical engagement on the internet, and that’s not just businesses. But an equally important issue is with those businesses and organisations that do have a website. Based on my own anecdotal evidence, most businesses and organisations run websites that are generally static places. In other words, they are not being used to anything like their potential.
Why is that? I think it’s because most website owners have one merely because they merely think they should. That’s not a bad start but it means they’re far from committed to using the real attributes available from dynamic content and regular interactions with visitors. As a consequence of this approach, the website maybe built on the cheap and with no thought for management beyond the build.
To put it starkly, an unloved website can be more destructive than having no website at all because of the poor impression created. If a website represents the business, then it follows that a static and boring website is likely to represent a static and boring business.
But there’s more to it. If we think of a website rather like a bicycle, it is almost useless unless someone is prepared to peddle it, and keep doing it. A static bicycle has no traction, no balance and will fall over with inertia. Similarly, a static website with no regular stories to tell, is uninteresting for visitors and is unattractive to search engines. The net result, the website fails to gain crucial search engine page rank and there is minimal benefit for the owner.
So I agree, a website is a good start for New Zealand businesses. The first failure is the failure to be part of the wonderful world of the internet. But the quality of the website and how it’s loved by its owner is just as important.
Fraser Carson is grateful to have the opportunity to share knowledge and ideas through this blog. He is the founding director of Flightdec.com, The Crowd Blog.com, Wotzon.com and Issues.co.nz. Fraser is a marketer and communications expert, and a developer and commentator on online and community building issues with a particular interest and involvement in the Collective Impact method of working cooperatively.