Now, more than ever, visitors have high usability and content expectations that need to be a part of your site. If not, you could be losing out on potential clients and customers. Let's take a look at the major website must-haves and see if yours makes the grade.
Content Management Systems
Content management systems (CMS) have made managing websites incredibly easy for even the least technically proficient among us. CMS platforms like Craft, WordPress, or even the more robust enterprise-level Sitecore, allow businesses to edit and publish content 100x faster than hard-coded HTML methods of the past.
Not only are these CMS’ easier to use than prior methods, but their open-source code allows for simple plug-and-play technologies like analytics, customer relationship marketing (CRM) tracking, testing software, and search engine optimization plugins. Once the CMS and templates are created in the back-end, businesses can efficiently manage, create, and present content for easy user engagement.
Here are a few CMS tools to consider:
Fast and Reliable Hosting
Users looking to find answers to their questions, and discover products and services that meet their needs don’t have time to wait for websites to load, or even worse, to be down. If this does happen, users will most likely not place your company in their consideration set for their needs. Outside of a poor user experience and potential loss of business, companies need to make sure their websites load fast. his is one of the more important SEO ranking factors, especially on mobile. If your website takes long to load you could lose rankings to competitors.
Businesses need to make sure their agency partners understand their needs to recommend the right hosting solution such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) or Microsoft Azure, to make sure the site has the highest uptime with no outages.
Secure Protocols (HTTPS) with SSL certificates
In addition to fast and reliable hosting, businesses need to make sure their website includes secure protocols with SSL certificates. This shows people that you care about their data and protecting it from being stolen. Additionally, some browsers will present a security warning to users trying to access a non-secure website which could hurt your reputation and consideration in the eyes of the users.
Analytics Tracking and Testing Software,
Businesses without proper analytics tracking set up don’t have the insights into how their website performs, what content drives user engagement, and what marketing efforts drive the best ROI. Without the knowledge of traffic sources and website engagement, businesses could be wasting precious time and resources on marketing efforts that don’t support the bottom line.
There are several analytics platforms ranging from free to enterprise level that are available. Google Analytics is one of the most popular platforms, and it’s also free! Larger companies lean toward enterprise platforms like Adobe, which require custom deployment and management. No matter which option you choose, tracking user behavior and performance metrics can go a long way in understanding what your users want and need, allowing you to deliver what they’re looking for and improve business outcomes.
Ready to tackle your site’s analytics? Check out these tools:
In addition to analytics tracking, businesses should consider adding user behavior tracking software and A/B testing tools. User behavior software helps identify areas of your site that could be creating UX issues and reducing conversions through visitor heat mapping and mouse tracking, you can follow how a visitor browses your site. HotJar and ClickTale are tools that can help you determine how users are moving through the site and uncover opportunities to improve engagement Alternatively, A/B testing tools like WVO or Optimizely allow businesses to determine what page layouts, content, and user flows convert the most users to maximize revenue.
The following tools can easily be leveraged to test and optimize messaging and user interaction points, in order to increase conversions and support lead generation efforts:
Customer Relation Management (CRM)
Customer relationship management (CRM) tools are used to manage and analyze prospect and customer interactions throughout the customer journey. Leveraging these interaction data points, businesses can influence the customer relationship, drive sales growth, and promote customer retention.
Each unique CRM, like Hubspot or SalesForce, offers different feature sets but provide the general value of managing and supporting the sales process. From marketing automation to lead management, these CRMs offer a wealth of prospect and client data that can be used to deliver a great sales experience, which in turn can improve the bottom line.
Have your marketing, sales, and support staff get familiar with one of these tools to get the most out of the robust features:
Chat is quickly becoming a necessity for more businesses aside from e-commerce sites. Today’s users are expecting to communicate with brands quickly, easily, and in the moment via live chat. The chat tool marketplace is expanding, providing businesses with more options. Newcomer Drift is providing chat functionality with automation; while SnapEngage has been providing onsite customer service via chat since 2008. No matter which provider you go with, having chat can significantly improve customer experience and provide a personal touch to digital interactions.
Considerations should be made about which tool you decide to use based on site traffic volume, team structure, and whether or not moving to a chat feature over standard customer service channels is right for your business.
Here are a few of the leading chat programs:
Users need to easily navigate your website to learn about your brand and take action to engage with you. Navigational elements should not only allow for an easy path through the site but also showcase your main pages and products so users know what you are offerings. Apply responsive web design (RWD) techniques to give users scalable navigation. From a collapsed, hamburger menu for mobile users, to mega menus for desktop users. Most users will reach your site and land on the homepage, so you will need to provide them with a clear path to content and tasks they wish to view and complete.
Customized Internal Search
One of the most overlooked yet crucial technologies you should have on your website is a customized internal search tool. Many companies ignore having this feature site-wide and rather place the search feature in the blog, products, and services section. By having a custom search tool on your website, users can search the entire site to find content quickly. Additionally, by tailoring the search tool, you can guide users down the right path to conversion, presenting the best content based on common search terms.
The marketplace has diverse offerings from Solr to Cludo, that can be optimized to drive successful site visits and make happy site visitors. Other tools include:
Over the past 10 years, the adoption of mobile devices accessing the internet has risen like a NASA rocket ship. It is estimated that 4.9 Billion mobile devices will be in use by 2020. Most likely, your prospects and customers will be accessing your site via mobile devices, so you will need to make sure your top pages are accessible on mobile. Additionally, consider mobile usage behaviors so you can create a seamless user experience on mobile and a more robust one on desktop visits.
Modern websites should meet accessibility standards. W3C has made it their mission to make websites “work for all people, whatever their hardware, software, language, location, or ability.”
The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) were developed in cooperation with individuals and organizations around the world, with a goal of providing a single shared standard for web content accessibility that meets the needs of individuals, organizations, and governments internationally. While these standards aim to help all users, the focus of accessibility looks to benefit people with disabilities. Meeting WCAG2 standards is a great place to start but a website can strive to meet higher standards. Check out what a UX Engineer has to say about ensuring your site is accessible, and for more details, learn more here from W3.
Ready to step up and get some of these website must-haves on your site? Let’s talk!