5 Must-Have Features on Every Website
Today, we live in a time where having a website is the foundation to build a brand online. If you want people to come to your site and buy what you offer, you better make sure it looks good, works well, and has the right features to keep users engaged.
In this article, I will cover the top 5 features your website must have to keep your visitors engaged and converting into followers and customers. These are features that a business owner can quickly implement regardless if you are a small or large business.
It’s not enough to simply attract visitors to your website and expect them to take action. These days you have less than 5 seconds to convince the visitor they are in the right place, or they’re going to click the back button and continue their search.
So now, what should you do once they’re there?
First, your homepage must make a great first impression. It’s the first thing a visitor sees when they land on your website, and it sets the tone for the rest of their experience. If your homepage doesn’t give them exactly what they are looking for, you will lose them as quickly as they arrive.
Let’s break down the five key features that help you build a lasting impression
People don’t like to be confused. In fact, they hate it so much that if your site comes off as overly cluttered, unorganized, or difficult to navigate, they will leave your site and go somewhere else.
As you start creating a website, you need to think about how people will navigate it.
It should be easy for them to get around the site. It would be best if you had a hierarchy of content so that the user can navigate from the top level of your site to the bottom level.
When designing your navigation menus, be as descriptive as possible and avoid industry jargon. Be sure to include frequently visited pages, such as FAQ, About Us, and pages for all your services. As a good rule of thumb, any visitor should be able to arrive at the information they are looking for in three clicks or less.
When mapping out your navigation, you should also consider including links to forms, driving directions, hours of operations, and easy-click-to-call buttons. These features seem like simple components (are often overlooked), but buttons and links to commonly searched items bring real value to your site.
Below is a great example of clear navigation. The website visitor has access to all their living options, amenities, property image gallery, and phone number at the top of the page. This particular website was designed for 60+ individuals searching for housing accommodations for their family members. The site clearly guides the user along to the path of conversion and with clear navigation, they can reach all the important pages with a single click.
Focus on making the site and content about your customer, not your company.
Walk them through the problems you solve and what that means for them. Showcase results, highlight unique selling propositions, and paint the picture of what buying your product/services or working with your company would look like.
Once you know what is valuable to your customers, you can create content that helps them see your company as the solution.
Begin creating the content with these questions in mind:
• What do you know about your customers?
• What problems do they have?
• What do they care about?
• What do they want to learn?
• How do you solve the problem?
• What’s in it for them?
• What can they get from using your product or service?
Tip: Begin with a list of the most common customer questions and answer those questions on your website and blog posts.
Clear Calls to Action
You should think about the type of action you want your visitor to take.
It is the job of a call-to-action to tell people what to do. You can use these sections and buttons to send visitors to a contact or lead capture form, sales page, shopping cart, quick dial phone link, service area page, blog, or a download link. We have all used call to action on a website, and it was likely you never realized that the button or form was designed specifically for the action you took.
Each page of your website should focus on one or two calls to action – CTAs. Giving customers too many choices tends to create confusion and will cause the user to take no action.
Again, each CTA should be clear, bold, and clearly positioned on the website. Hone in on how your solution, product, or service will overcome a customer’s challenge, solve a problem, or improve their lives and then ask them to take the desired action.
This CTA example has a simple headline, a brief statement explaining how easy it is to get more information, and a simple form. By including a simple form in this CTA box, the visitor only has 1 action to make to opt themselves into gathering more details. It is simple, takes very little effort and we (since this one of our website CTA’s) can track where the customer is in the buyer’s journey from this specific call to action.
This CTA example has three steps through the pawn loan process. It includes the three steps that a customer takes to get the cash. By showing the customer the three steps, there are no surprises, they understand what they must do to get a price for the item and when/how they will get cash for the item. It is simple, easy, and does not require an email or phone call to the business – the customer comes into the store and is ready to process their transaction.
Now that you understand what a call to action looks like and how they are used to convert visitors into customers, we encourage you to look at your website and see if you have call to actions and if they are pointing your customer in the right direction toward conversion.
Engaging your Audience
We’ve talked about creating captivating content and using a call to action to give them something to do. You already have the visitor’s attention; why not use it use this time to connect further? Here are ways you can engage with your audience:
• Ask them to click a link
• sign up for an offer, coupons, or your newsletter
• schedule service appointment
• make a purchase
• Live chat support or assistance
• Text to chat support bots
• Watch video or guided tours of the website or your product/service
• Email opt-ins
• Push notification opt-ins
• Social media sharing
These are all examples that lead people to take the next step toward engaging with you and your brand, and most are easy to add to an existing website without added expense.
Effective website design
Most businesses think that website projects start with design, which is the last step in a website project. It is challenging to design a page if you are unsure who you are talking to, what pages you plan to include, and what actions you want your visitor to take. Now that you have your navigation, content, and calls to action ready to go, you can start working on the design.
We know that the visual design of your website can be essential in determining whether a visitor will leave your site or continue to explore it. Next, work on aligning your site’s layout to flow naturally, all while taking the customer along the journey in a way that anticipates their needs, questions, or desires.
Leverage White Space
Your design should leverage white space to keep the site clean and uncluttered while tapping into the core of your branding to ensure the site best represents your company and what it stands for
Keep in mind a visually appealing design does not equal performance.
I will let you in on a little secret: most people do not read your web page; they scan it. If it’s difficult to read or has too many words, they will most likely skip it and move on to another site.
There are many ways to layout a page for scanning. One of the best ways is to use white space. If there are a lot of large blocks of text on the page, it is usually a good idea to shorten your sentences and break up the content with short bulleted lists of information.
Why is white space is necessary?
• It can help make your page easy to scan
• It helps your calls to action stand out
It provides a visual break from the text and allows visitors to take in more of your design without becoming visually fatigued.
The same thing goes for your images. They should be selected and placed where the images are relevant to the content sections, or they create confusion, and confused visitors leave.
How does your site look on mobile?
Today, businesses need to focus on their mobile-first strategy to survive because the amount of traffic that comes from mobile devices is increasing at a rapid rate. As a matter of fact, more than half of all web traffic now comes from mobile; this is why businesses must build websites that work for both desktop and mobile users.
If your website isn’t mobile-friendly, you’re missing out on a huge chunk of potential customers. The good news? It’s easy to update! Whether you’re just starting out or are looking to update the look of your site, having a mobile-friendly site will help you reach more people on the go.
A well-designed site and easy-to-navigate can be a significant asset to your brand. Your website should have a consistent look and feel throughout all your pages. A site that does not match all your current branding can hurt your brand by making you look unprofessional.
What we’re getting at here is the concept of brand consistency. In other words, if you want to increase conversion rates on your site, you need to make sure that all of your pages and content pieces are consistent. It would be best to use the same fonts, colors, page layouts, and even images across all your site pages. Following this design principle will provide a more cohesive user experience (no more wondering if you are on the same web page – we have all been to those sites where each page looks different); it will also help make your site look trustworthy. We’ll say that again: consistency is king.
Designed with Conversions in Mind
We touched on conversion optimization earlier and will touch on it again regarding design. Conversion-focused website will allow the visitor to do exactly what you want them to do:
• make a purchase
• contact you to schedule a service
• download a free guide
• sign up for an email list, etc.
Your conversion-focused website should have clear call-to-action sections &/or buttons (CTA) on every page. Make sure that every piece of content on your website has a clear CTA. You can use any of these CTAs: Sign up now, Get a free guide, Buy now, Download a free white paper, Subscribe to our newsletter, etc.
As you design your new website, get your homepage right from the beginning of the project. It’s essential to make sure your navigation, calls to action, and engagement tools are incorporated into your homepage design and set up to capture the attention of your visitors.
You don’t need to put in all these fancy features that you’ll never use. It’s not a bad idea to include some simple widgets like a live chat on your site, but you can also take it a step further and include a booking calendar or forms that connect directly with your customer management system (CRM).
Grab your FREE guide today.
If you are ready to start your website project, you should grab a copy of our FREE Website Project guide – 5 Steps to a winning website project.
Reach out today and connect with a team of industry experts who can elevate your site and ensure you’re getting the most from every visitor you earn.