Much like the question, “Is she the one?” or “Do I really need that pair of shoes?” this is one question where there’s no concrete answer. The term “basic” is very subjective (especially with web sites) but can typically be described as a five-page site with no flash animation.

This is very common for small businesses that are not photo-centric as well as for startups that need a placeholder and freelancers. If you’re running a company focusing on rodent control, plumbing, or barcode technology, the chances are you won’t need flashy animation or multiple photo galleries because the service is straight forward.

However, every business is after growth to varying degrees. Just because you don’t need a flashier website now doesn’t mean you won’t in the future—kind of like you might not think you’d benefit from analytics software now, but it might be the perfect tool for increasing sales and minimizing loss in the future. Your website is the face of your brand online, and part of your search engine optimization (SEO) strategy. It will likely grow with you.

So, Does That Mean Yes?
Keep in mind that “basic” does not necessarily mean dull, boring, our outdated. It can, however, mean static, which is not necessarily a bad thing. There are many “basic” sites offering limited information either because that’s all the information that is necessary for that particular company’s online presence or because the web designer isn’t skilled. How can you tell the difference? It’s in the quality of the design. High quality images, up to the minute design trends, and artfully-selected graphics and fonts are all tell-tale signs if a “basic” site is simple-chic or severely lacking.

Simplicity can be a great thing depending on your business and goals. Increasingly in the Digital Era, it also serves as a resume and online portfolio for freelancers and smaller businesses. It’s also become much easier to build your own gorgeous sites with platforms like WordPress, making it truly intuitive for anybody to create their own customized web presence.

But This is All I Need...
No (good) web designer will be able to assess what your business really needs without a fleshed out discussion. However, there are some foundational categories that almost all companies need in order to thrive: “About Me/Us,” “Contact,” “Rates,” and “Services” are all items that are a must. If your company does not want to list rates on the web site, there needs to be a clear way for customers to see that they must contact the company in order to gauge service prices. Retail businesses will also of course need a page dedicated to products, which is the service company’s equivalent of “services.”

What if I Want Something Really Cool?
That depends on what cool means to you. A lot of business owners do not double as graphic or web pros and aren’t really sure how to communicate what they want. One of the biggest “ooh’s” is videos and/or moving imagery. Keep in mind that this option (flash) can be a tricky beast to work with. It may not work on every platform, such as some SmartPhones, or may take an excruciatingly long time to load on slower connections.

Instead, work with a web designer to determine a feel and style that you are going for. Want something sleek and contemporary or something more welcoming and friendly? That’s up to you, but an expert web designer is capable of creating anything your heart desires. The key is communication and not being shy about speaking up if the site is going in a direction you don’t like, even if it’s what you originally thought you wanted. And, once you are pleased with what you got, make sure you pay that invoice they sent you for all their hard work.

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This content is written by SF