According to Nominet, a quarter of small businesses (26 per cent) still do not have a basic website. In an age where online and mobile commerce is beginning to phase out physical transactions, a lack of online presence is simply not an option for a small business looking to grow, especially given the ease in which small businesses can get online.
Moving into 2016, the developing trends within website building and editing is very much focused around ease of use and the busy business owner. Individuals within small businesses can now build and manage websites without having any previous technical experience.
One of the most exciting things about 2016 for SMEs is the fact that website building and editing is no longer restricted to just desktop or laptop devices – maintenance and editing can all be performed on mobile devices.
Until recently, SMEs were unable to perform everyday tasks such as editing office docs or managing accounts software without using a desktop computer. Now, many desktop applications seem to come with a mobile application as a standard. As we reach the end of 2015, we can see that software for accounting, commerce related business software and the majority of Microsoft Office, is now available via apps for smartphones and tablets.
As many SME owners are busy individuals operating in a fast-moving environment and often working on the go, it’s simply no longer acceptable to force them to use one particular type of device. In 2016, we’ll see the major website providers complete their transition to offering fully responsive control panels and account provisioning from mobile devices. This is an essential step the hosting industry needs to make if it’s going to remain relevant to a mobile-first generation of SMEs.
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Small businesses that have started in the last couple of years are very likely to have accumulated a presence on multiple social media platforms. However, companies like this can also expect to have a complete website, including a fully functioning front-page, widgets and social integration, in one package.
Migration from social media platforms can take place without existing expertise in website creation and produces an operational web page within minutes on any device. This fluid transition sets an expectation level that right now the hosting industry isn’t meeting. Too many hosting companies still seem to think that a control panel offering a plethora of applications and a “one click WordPress install” constitutes an acceptable offering. It’s this disconnect that’s going to make them increasingly irrelevant to the mobile-first SME customer.
In 2015, we’ve seen some device-independent site builders come to market, but in 2016 this will become an expected feature. With the business owner being busier than ever and constantly on the go, there’s no reason why website management should be limited to certain devices. As always, some of the smaller site builder companies and those with legacy architecture issues will struggle to make this change and lose traction as a result.
Gordon Plant is VP of product at BaseKit.
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