The importance of a business's website clearly relates to what % of revenue it is wholly or even partially responsible for.
You could say the same for a salesman or any employee really. They contribute to the generation of company turnover, conversely if they were poor at their job they are restricting their company.
If overnight a company lost its whole Sales and Marketing Department, or a shop couldn't open the front doors due to a flood, or a factory had a serious fire - the loss of revenue would be highly damaging until the situation was corrected.
Likewise if the Sales and/or Marketing department are substandard, or in the case of a retail outlet - it resides in a street where no one goes - neither businesses are able to discover or reach their potential. This is all common sense stuff.
Getting back to websites, if your website disappeared for 12 months, how much of an effect would it have on your business? If the answer is a massive loss of enquiries and revenue - then consider this - rather than losing your website, what if it was just a poor website; cheaply designed, badly written and search optimised, out of date, hard to navigate with ineffective or cheesy calls to action?
A sub-standard website also affects a business's ability to reach its potential. The business will be throttled, revenue lost to competitors and wasted opportunities, etc.
Worse still, a poor website could actually be damaging; having a negative effect upon the business's reputation, revenue and profits. For example, we've seen plenty of Solicitor's websites that are shameful - poor design, out-of-date, arrogant, spelling and grammatical errors, no guidance, etc.
Therefore a poor website is not only holding a business back, its likely that its doing more damage to that business than if they didn't even have a website.
Conversely, how much more revenue (and profits) could your company produce if it had a "World-Class Website", with all the important aspects taken care of? - With interesting, useful, engaging, fresh, unique content, properly search engine optimised, well-crafted and memorable graphics, nice styling and formatting, easy to navigate and use, socially engaged, professionally created "calls to action" and marketing functions, no speling mistaks, etc.
The reason your website is not performing well, or worse - damaging your business's potential - is simply that too little time, effort and money is (or was) put into it.
If an improved website could double or quadruple your turnover, and further increase it in following years, how much would you invest in creating that improved website?
Forget the 1% you spent on your website - how about investing 5, 10, 25% or more of turnover?
In addition, think of the vastly increased shareholder value should you wish to sell at some point, due to greater turnover, a greater quantity of regular and sustainable enquiries, and not forgetting having a great website that all can see - your staff, customers, clients and potential buyers.
Cheap websites are not just cheap looking, they're also created with little time, thought and effort. What they are most likely losing you in potential enquires, lost revenue and damaged reputation is a vast multiple of the original cost. It's madness. You'd be better off not having a website at all.
How will you know that investing £10,000 to £50,000 in a new and world-class website will double your turnover - you don't, no guarantees in life. No guarantee a new employee will cut the mustard, no guarantee a new product or range will sell, no guarantee that a new piece of equipment will produce a return on investment. You get the point.
The new and vastly improved website will also need regular input of time and effort, and therefore money. An appointed webmaster diligently adding fresh content, amending existing, adding new functionality, etc. But if it has become as valuable as a whole team of marketeers and salesmen - it's worth it.
If you already have a great website; that's very effective at producing enquires and sales - yet you only paid the hard-working and dedicated web designer less than a few percent of one year's turnover - then you underpaid them.
You may have convinced them into quoting low just to get you as a client, you told them you knew someone else who would do it for less (ignored quality), you pleaded poverty - so expecting the web designer to work for a minimal fee. If this is you - go write them out a large bonus cheque for a fair percentage of the extra revenue their creation has generated for your business - as you would pay a professional introducer, a bonus to top salespeople, or a top performing executive or director.
Its amazing what a talented web designer will produce when you pay them well, compared to them being grossly under-paid.