For your website to succeed online and convert users into customers, it needs to be feature-packed for an excellent user experience. In this article, we take a look at the various features your website needs to be successful and we’ve included a few of those annoying website features which should be avoided as well.
Domain Name & Hosting
The first thing to look at would be the domain name and hosting for your website. The domain name needs to be short and easy to remember as you will be using it for email addresses as well. Registering a domain name should be done as soon as possible to avoid it being taken by someone else.
When a user visits your site for the first time, they’re going to look for some form of identification. So having your company name visible at the top of the home page will help the user identify that they’re in the right place.
Having a search bar in an easy-to-access place, such as the navigation bar, will allow the user to find exactly what they’re looking for within a short period. This improves user experience and leads to conversions.
As with the company name, your company logo is another identifying factor that assists the user in knowing they’re viewing the right website. This is usually placed with the company name in the navigation bar at the top of the website.
A brief description of your company above the fold is another piece of information that a user will look for in identifying the website. If a user is unable to tell what you do from a glance, they are more likely to leave the website and continue their search until they have found what they’re looking for.
The navigation bar is where all the links to the most important parts of your website can be found. Since it has become standard practice to put these links at the top of the website, users expect to find those links there. It provides for great user experience, makes finding information quick and easy, and leads to conversions.
Call To Action
A CTA (Call to Action) is another great way to convert a user into a customer. These CTA’s can be found throughout the site at various key points, calling a user to take some action. Whether it be in the form of a “buy now”, “call now”, or “request a quote” button, without these CTA’s, many users will not take any action.
Images should be used to enhance your message in a useful way, which in turn provides for better user experience. They can be in the form of photos, icons or graphics and should be used to emphasize a message.
Internal linking is another feature your website needs to be a success. Apart from having links in the navigation bar at the top and bottom of a website, spreading links throughout relevant pages will also assist a user in finding exactly what they’re looking for.
Testimonials are a great way to provide users with social proof. And we’re not talking about fake reviews, we’re talking about real testimonials from people submitted via Google or Facebook. These kinds of testimonials provide credibility and peace of mind to users when dealing with a company they’re unfamiliar with.
Having live chat on your website isn’t a necessity as it requires someone to be available to assist users throughout the day. However, it is a fantastic tool and bolsters customer service and support. So, if you do have the time or are able to employ someone to handle live chat, definitely consider it as an option for your website.
Even if you don’t have a newsletter ready to go, consider adding an opt-in form to your website to start building your email database. This way, when you are ready to send your first newsletter, you will have a subscriber list to send it to. Another great opt-in tool for keeping users up to date with your company news is to use push notifications.
Social Media Icons
If you have a social media page, which is another fantastic way to keep in touch with your followers, you should have those links on your website. When a user visits your website, a lot of the time they’ll want to find you on social media as well, so adding those links enhances the user experience.
If your company operates from a physical premise where customers can visit, it is essential to include a map on your website. This makes it easy for customers to find you and increases conversion rates.
Another feature your website needs to be a success is to include your operating hours. There’s nothing more frustrating than going to a website to see whether the business is open during a certain time, only to find out you need to phone them to ask.
If there’s one feature that must be on your website, it’s your contact information. Even if it’s just an email address or telephone number. Imagine going to a website only to find there’s no way to get in touch with someone. You’ll probably leave and look elsewhere. I know I would.
While it isn’t necessary to have a contact form on your website, it has become a standard, and users expect it. It adds to the user experience by making it easy to get in touch with you and increases the success of your website.
The about us section is often overlooked and given very little thought, however, can be one of the deciding factors behind every conversion. A well thought out, well-written biography about your business adds a bit of personality to your website, and since people like dealing with people, it often turns a user into a customer.
I love going through team photos and reading about the people who work for a business. It puts me at ease knowing who I will be dealing with, very much like meeting people in real life. So, having a “Meet the Team” section with a little blurb (two sentences) about the person adds a lot to the overall user experience of a website.
People love videos, so where possible, add them to your website. Whether it’s a little intro about the company, a review from a client, a ‘how-to’ tutorial or even a product showcase, it adds value and often tends to convert a lot of users.
This feature is a must if you want your business website to be a success. If you provide a service or sell products, you’ll want to display them on your website so that users can see what you have to offer. You don’t necessarily need to sell your products or services online, just display them and provide as much information about them as possible. The more information that’s displayed, the better the conversion rate.
It is also a great idea to showcase your products/services features and benefits in an easy to read way. Keep in mind that people don’t buy a product or service, they buy the benefits.
An often overlook website feature is the case study. If your product or service has helped clients in some way, showcase this with case studies. Not only do case studies add credibility, but they are also more likely to convert, especially with B2B.
As with case studies, displaying your customer’s logos (if you are a B2B) also adds to your credibility and is another great feature to make your business website a success.
A great way to increase traffic and provide users with more information is through blog posts (or articles). Not only does this increase traffic, but it also boosts your search engine ranking which makes it easier for users to find your website.
You can also add further value to your users by anticipating any questions they might have and answering them on your website through the use of an FAQ section or Knowledgebase.
Documents & Guides
Documents and guides can be uploaded to your website, providing a consolidated, online place to keep these files for use by employees. And the more active your website is, the better for search engine rankings.
Infographics are a fantastic way to display data and stats in an easy-to-read way. Not only do they make data easy to understand, but they also provide a visually pleasing aesthetic to any website.
One of the most important features of any website to be a success is that it needs to be mobile-friendly. With the vast majority of people using their phones to browse the web, you’d be cutting out a large chunk of the market if your website isn’t mobile-friendly.
Site Caching & Speed
An often-overlooked feature is the proper caching of a website and the speed at which it loads. Caching refers to the saving of a website’s pages and images to a server or browser for quick accessibility and faster loading times.
SEO & Analytics
On-page SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is extremely important if you want your website to be found online. It is just as important to be able to track your efforts via the use of an app like Google Analytics or similar. This way you can continue to refine your efforts to attract the right users to your website.
A relatively new form of SEO is the use of Microformats to markup website information so that search engines can serve the right content to a user when they search for something. This improves your search rankings and leads to a more successful website.
Website Features to Avoid
- Video hosted directly on the server.
- Websites that are dependent on Flash.
- Anything that auto-plays, this includes video and audio.
While the list may seem long, when everything is put together, it can enhance the user experience of your website tenfold. And while not all website features are necessary, many of them add to the success of your business website and shouldn’t be overlooked.
Business Information and Contact Details
Viewable on Mobile Devices
Quick to Load
A good website has a clear purpose and message, is easy to understand and navigate, looks good on all devices, and has quality, relevant content.
A relevant, easy-to-remember domain name.
Information about the business
A clear call to action