Are websites becoming obsolete?

Are Facebook business pages and Twitter stories obliterating the need for businesses and individuals to have a website? I see this happening quite a lot now – a business builds themselves a Facebook page and this becomes their only online presence. Is it a good idea for a company to maintain their online presence using Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram only? It’s a question worth asking because businesses are increasingly doing this but I think it’s still important to have a proper website and here’s why.

  1. All Facebook pages look the same. There are few options for individuality and creativity there. Sure you can add a profile picture and header image but beyond that it looks like any other Facebook page.
  2. The URL is not easily remembered. The first lesson in Domains 101 is to choose an address that’s easy to remember and easy to spell. Facebook pages have a URL that looks like this https://www.facebook.com/BusinessName/?rf=123451234512345.
  3. If a customer wants to contact you through an online channel they are forced to create a Facebook account. With a website you can add a contact form which doesn’t require an account with a third-party service.
  4. You can publish regular news stories on a web site and these persist over time. Twitter stories by comparison have a shelf-life of about 10 minutes. Once they’ve gone from your stream they disappear into an abyss, never to be seen again, unless you make a note of the URL but as with Facebook pages, a Twitter story URL is not easily remembered. Facebook posts last a bit longer than 10 minutes but they also have a short shelf-life.

This is not to say that social media networks are not important because they are. I just don’t think they should replace a proper web site. With a website you can customise it any way you like. You can make it completely original and unlike anything else on the internet. You get to choose the address. You have complete control. You can also publish regular articles to your site and share these to social media networks. These will persist on your site and in search engine results for years. Anyone can read these articles and they do not need to have an account with a third-party company. Customers and visitors to your site can also contact you without creating an account somewhere else first.

What do you think? Are websites becoming obsolete? I definitely don’t think so but maybe I’m biased.