More than one-third of small businesses (40%) choose not to invest in a website, according to a new survey from Visual Objects, a portfolio website that showcases work from top creative firms from around the world.
In addition, the survey found that 28% of small businesses are unlikely to create a website in the future.
Graph - resources small businesses use to maintain their websites
Graph - why small businesses do not have websites
In contrast, most small businesses (60%) do have a website, primarily to establish brand legitimacy and authority.
The survey of 529 U.S. small businesses found that quality websites are affordable and accessible for small businesses. Most small businesses believe a website is a necessary component of any successful digital marketing strategy in 2019.
Some Small Businesses Consider Websites Irrelevant
Nearly a third of small businesses that choose not to have a website (28%) say a website is irrelevant to their company's needs. These companies tend to leverage their personal networks and traditional marketing strategies, such as email and PR, to generate business.
Industry experts, however, are skeptical of businesses that rely on word-of-mouth marketing strategies without websites.
"At some point, businesses get into the outer reaches of that word-of-mouth network," said Jackson Fox, director of user experience at Viget, a full-service digital agency near Washington, D.C."Without a digital presence in some way, people who don't know you may not trust your business."
Cost and the use of social media for a web presence are other reasons small businesses gave for not creating a website.
Most Small Businesses Spend Less Than $10,000on Their Websites
Websites have become more affordable for small businesses: 65% spend less than $10,000 to design, build, and launch a website.
Website builders such as Squarespace and Wix help small businesses establish a basic website presence quickly without budgetary strain. However, the ability of these website tools is limited, and the advanced design features are often beyond the average small business owner's skill level.
Kristine Neil, owner and creative director at web design firm Markon Brands in Vancouver, Wash., says website builders tend to establish unrealistic expectations for amateur web designers.
"Those [platforms] really oversell and underdeliver when it comes to the lay person's ability to execute or recreate the samples that they're seeing," Neil said.
Web Design Agencies Help Small Businesses Meet Strategic Goals
Nearly 20% of small businesses use a web design agency to maintain their websites. Most small businesses (52%), however, keep website maintenance in-house and may not have the necessary expertise for complex website features.
Web design companies can save small businesses time and effort by creating a high-quality product that empowers clients to take over day-to-day maintenance of the final version.
Roxana Colorado, creator of the LatinaNomad business blog, hired a developer after attempts to build her own website came up short.
"The hours spent trying to figure it all out were insane," Colorado said. "The learning curve on the development side was huge. I would have been better off hiring someone."