Website must-have features come and go. What is essential one year may be ineffective the next. If you are a non-profit manager or small business owner looking to build a website, or improve your current one, you may find yourself lost in the jargon of web design. Responsive? Single-page? CMS? Custom?
Before you go chasing trends, read below to discover the 5 website must-have features that just about every organization needs.
Won’t This List of ‘Website Must-Have Features’ Be Outdated as Soon as It’s Published?
It’s true that web design trends change on an almost daily basis, but when you’re running a smaller organization, you don’t necessarily need to stay on top of every hot new design trend out there. What you need is a reliable, well-designed website that will do what modern users expect websites to do.
Must-Have Feature #1: Value Proposition
The first website must-have feature is a value proposition. This may not sound like a website feature at all, but your website should instantly tell your visitors what differentiates your organization from others. This value proposition should:
- Explain what is unique about your organization
- Tell first-time visitors what kind of product or service they can get from your organization
- Remind your repeat visitors why they keep coming back
Without a solid value proposition, even the most beautiful websites can leave their visitors puzzled and can cause them to search for competitor sites that more closely meet their expectations.
Must-Have Feature #2: Responsive Design
With 50% of people shopping on mobile devices at least some of the time, and mobile Internet usage at 65%, your website must function well on mobile devices. Responsive design doesn’t just mean that you have a “mobile website,” however. It means that your website is designed to work well on any computer, regardless of the screen size. You don’t know where your users will be accessing your website. They could be using tiny smartphone screens, medium-sized tablets, or giant desktop displays.
Your website should perform well and look great on screens of all sizes.
Must-Have Feature #3: A CMS
A CMS or Content Management System is a web-based software program that allows you to update your website yourself. Popular CMS’s include WordPress, Joomla!, and Magento, among others. It’s important to have a CMS, because otherwise you will have to rely on whoever designed your website for every change, no matter how small. Need to update your hours? Or add a link? Or change your about page? These are all things that are easy to do with a CMS and very hard to do without one.
CMS-based websites are also, on-average, cheaper than from-scratch websites as they require less development time. There’s simply no reason for a smaller organization to ask for a from-scratch website without a very good reason.
Must-Have Feature #4: Calls-To-Action
Along with a strong value proposition and effective overall design, your website needs to encourage visitors to take the actions you want them to take. Simply having a button that says “newsletter” or “submit” isn’t enough. Today’s website users are easily distracted. If you don’t hook them early, they’ll move on to your competitor’s website.
CTAs on your website should:
- Be a subtle command
- Be extensions of your value proposition
Instead of just putting things like “sign up” or “buy now,” try to describe what the user will get by taking the action you want them to take, like “buy peace-of-mind for your family” or “sign up to learn the secrets to a successful business.”
Must-Have Feature #5: Local SEO
SEO or Search Engine Optimization means that your website is developed in such a way that when users search for products or services like yours, your website shows up in search results. If you are a small organization, you shouldn’t be trying to compete outside of your service area, but you do need to be concerned with local SEO. Local SEO means that when users search for organizations like yours within your service area, they find your website. Good local SEO is also much more easily achieved, unless you live in a large, urban area with lots of competition.
There Are Other Important Features, But This Will Get You Started
We certainly aren’t trying to say that there aren’t other important features you need on a small business or non-profit website. In fact, we’ve written some other articles about each of these types of websites:
To get started, however, you need to make sure you’re covering the basics. You simply can’t go wrong with a website that makes use of these 5 must-have features. They are the foundation of every great website out there.