Things have changed greatly over the years, and right now they are changing fast. A few years back, it become a widely accepted rule that any business that wanted to be seen, needed to have an online presence. But, as you’d expect, not every business followed this advice.
Whether it was because those businesses didn’t have enough money to build an online presence, or the tools and resources they needed to make it happen were out of reach, many entrepreneurs and businesses where happy just working offline or with the bare minimum online.
But now the options for building a solid online presence have increased tremendously, and building an online presence is much easier than it has ever been. You have no excuse now for not having a significant online presence for your business and brand.
Besides, in the wake of widespread pandemics and economic hard times around the world, everyone has realized the virtual or digital world is just as important as the real one, if not more crucial in some cases for the survival and growth of both brick-and-mortar businesses and digital companies.
Importance of Building an Online Presence During These Times
The businesses hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic and worsening economic hard times, and which are now acutely cognizant of the value of digital and building an online presence cut across industries, ranging from restaurants to bookstores and even fitness studios.
Let's highlight why building an online presence for all these businesses is important and beneficial:
1 - Restaurants
The restaurant industry was badly affected by COVID-19. One after another, they were forced to close their doors—some of them for good. In March 2020 alone, the industry lost more than $25 billion and 60% of jobs in the US, according to a Quartz report. Restaurants and bars accounted for more than half of the jobs lost in the US.
The restaurants surviving day by day had to change their policies and business strategy. Previously, many didn’t have take-outs, and refused to be on platforms like Uber Eats or Didi Food (they can charge up to 30% of the sale). But now they rely on take-out and delivery, which can only be done through smartphones and the internet.
As such, restaurants today need to have an online presence and build websites that let people surf through their menu and place orders in a fast, easy and convenient way. They should provide great user experience (UX) on their websites to let people order in a way that can compare to something as fast as talking with a waitress in person, as well as a checkout section that is intuitive.
2 - Bookstores
Since Amazon started in the 90’s, brick-and-mortar libraries have fallen like flies and closed shop. In 2023, there are just a few big names and the rest are independent bookstores, which all used to depend on people walking into the stores to buy books.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, physical bookstores were forced to close their doors. But many also started online services where they ship books to anyone who orders online.
While Amazon did start as an online bookstore, not every bookstore can turn into Amazon overnight. What they can do, however, is make all their catalog available online, go hard on social media, and recommend the best and most popular, readers' favorite books to internet users, while offering solid discounts to recurring shoppers.
Some bookstores have had to rebuild their websites from scratch to ensure it is more user-friendly, pleasant to look at and seamless for shoppers to use.
Bookstores used to be all about the physical space, now they need a great online presence and business website to attract the same customers who are now mostly online.
3 - Fitness studios
Gymnasiums and fitness studios are also among the most affected in the wake of COVID, wars, and current economic hard times. And the worst part is that because of the nature of gyms, there might not be a “going back to normal” in a really long time.
To assuage the increased numbers of people averse to crowds in gyms using the same gym equipment, and to avoid having people exercising and sweating in the gym together, which increases the risk of spread of diseases, many gymnasiums and fitness studios have pivoted to digital, going online and offering online video workouts.
Gyms have had some of the biggest challenges, but by building and turning their websites into a real online experience where people can login, stream classes, leave comments, and schedule more classes, these fitness businesses have managed to stay afloat.
Many gym websites previously used to only have basic information, such as some videos that served as presentations and a section for subscriptions. This has since changed as the value of digital and having a strong online presence have become clear.
Using Website Builders to Set Up Your Online Presence
During COVID when there was no going outside or holding physical meetings or job interviews, businesses across the board saw the value and power of having a strong online presence.
It doesn’t matter what you do, if you want to be noticed and build resilience during difficult times, it is crucial that you establish and grow a strong online presence. Building a business website is the right way to go and have full control of your platform online, where you tell people who you are, what you do, and showcase what your business represents.
When building a website from scratch, simplicity is key. But that doesn’t mean you should go for the most basic tools, features and make your website look like an old poster on a wall. Simplicity means removing all unnecessary elements and including only the most useful and functional features of the site in the most visually attractive way possible.
With the right features on your business website, you will come across as a professional entrepreneur and serious experts. This is where website builders come in to help you easily build a professional website that grows your online presence and strengthen your reputation. You should only choose a website builder that will let you achieve that.
Suppose you don’t know how to film and edit your business' marketing videos but you want an easy option/feature to upload 4K videos on your business website. Or, maybe you want to sell on your website but right now you’re focusing on increasing website traffic first. Perhaps even you want to add a blog on your company website since you have already built up a sizeable audience online?
Whatever the case maybe, the right website builder can help you do exactly what you want, with easy to use, drag-and-drop tools to build a website exactly the way you need it.
With a website builder you don’t need to learn to code, with most of the top builders being very versatile. With website builders, you just need to follow simple steps to make your website a reality, featuring all of the feature you want.
That’s why you want to find a top-tier and versatile website builder with all the features and capabilities you need - one that lets you change and evolve as your business grows overtime.
Best Website Builders to Check Out
Here are some of the best and most versatile website builders you can check out to build and start growing your online presence:
1 - Squarespace
Considered as one of the best website builders in the market with the best templates, this easy to use website builder thrives and excels on design aesthetics.
If you want to start a visually attractive blog, show your work in a cool way, or manage an online portfolio, Squarespace is a good choice to consider.
2 - Wix
Wix has evolved from a simple website builder to a giant cloud-based web development platform that allows you to create stunning websites, including free web hosting. With it’s easy to customize website builder, you can start from scratch and personalize your website as much as you want.
In reviews of Wix website builder, the verdict is that Wix sites work great on desktop and mobile. You can learn how Wix can be upgraded with hundreds of apps, add-ons, and even how the service is revolutionizing the way people build their websites with its Artificial Intelligence solutions.
3 - Shopify
If the pandemic made you turn your physical store into an online business overnight, Shopify was probably the best solution for you.
With Shopify you can easily build a professional and intuitive e-commerce website or store and start growing your online presence and customer-base in just a few minutes.
Shopify offers website templates and retail point-of-sale systems that are made to sell seamlessly online, while being easy to navigate and updated to match the current trends.
With tools to manage every part of your business, you can use Shopify to start a business or grow an existing one online.
Today, you need to have an online presence that bolsters your business and brand. With website builders, the tools and opportunity to create beautiful and functional websites within minutes just the way you want it is possible.
You don't have to hire expensive developers or spend many hours coding to develop your website. You can simply go to your DIY website builder, build your website yourself, and start growing your online presence. It's cost-effective and totally worth it.