The Most Essential Features Websites Should Have in 2019
Keeping up with the latest features is vital for your website’s success story. Things move fast, and a lot has changed in the past year due to the increased popularity of immersive visuals, speed and mobile design, algorithm updates, and a higher relevance for users’ experience. In 2019, visitors are like Pokemon, gotta catch them all!
Or at least try to. When users visit your site for the first time, how many opportunities do you have to convince them to stay, surf through pages and return in the upcoming future? In the words of a distinguished poet:
Look, If you had, One-shot, Or one opportunity, To seize everything you ever wanted, In one moment, Would you capture it, Or just let it slip?
Yes, Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” is totally about websites.
While there’s no magic formula, we can prescribe to capture the attention of each visitor that comes through your site, including these seven key elements can boost your chances to maintain happy visitors and meet your business goals.
1. Responsive Design
With the predominance of smartphones, tablets, and people with astigmatism, responsive design has become vital for anyone looking to have a digital presence… which is basically everyone. For a couple of years, mobile searches have surpassed desktop searches and now Google prioritizes mobile-responding sites over those that aren’t mobile friendly.
“What is responsive web design exactly?” I’m glad you asked.
Responsive design is a feature whereby a designer (duh!) builds a website that resizes itself depending on which device it is being visualized through. Its purpose is to have one site with multiple elements that respond differently when viewed on smaller or bigger devices (computer/laptop vs. smartphone/table).
The whole process resizes page elements by proportion rather than pixels to keep the usability, user experience and visual aspects top-notch so that visitors don’t hate you. That’s always nice.
Some sites are now even making mobile sites its number 1 priority and leaving the desktop sites to abandon and crying in a corner. Well, not abandoned, but certainly in second place, as the mobile first design is quickly becoming a trend.
Repeat with me: UX matters. UX matters. UX… what was it?
Oh yeah… matters.
UX, or user experience, build trust and, with time, loyalty for your brand and website. People interact with navigation as soon as they show on your site’s doorstep. Hence, it is essential that the site is organized, easy to use, and communicates clearly what it has to offer and how deep can users go.
You should keep the site simple enough to show only the elements and categories that matter the most, yet sufficiently attractive to wow and retain users’ interest. Keep in mind that the more stuff you put into your navigation, the harder it is to use. It’s not that people are lazy, it’s that we don’t want to feel tested. At least not at first sight. We are a bit lazy though.
I recommend you engage in user-friendly language with witty copywriting that always maintains its clarity. You should also have a search bar to enable users to look for information that is not effortlessly found in navigation, and link your logo back to homepage so visitors can click on it in case they feel lost… just not metaphorically.
Though many websites use stock images or video to add visual elements to their content, they don’t engage the audience as much as real visuals of your team, office, or products. Customers know when they see the authentic display, and they really appreciate it. Videos more so, since they add quite a lot of production value.
As much as we’d like to believe that’s not right thanks to some Reddit forums, people across the Internet are smarter every day. They can easily judge companies’ websites and determine whether they use a generic stock image or one that is more personal to the brand. If you have the budget or one of your nephews just got his first camera, I strongly suggest you publish your very own photos to connect with the audience truly.
You should use these images strategically, placing them to support your content and break the text visually. As I said, we are lazy. If we are going to read a 3000 words blog post, we want to see two cat pictures at least. Even if the post talks about car engines.
Bear in mind that the media makes your site slower. Therefore, to improve your page speed, start by compressing all your images and videos before loading them onto your website.
And now that I think about it don’t throw in cat pictures if your site is about car engines.
4. Reviews and Testimonials
Social proof is one of the most powerful marketing tools out there. If you don’t believe me, ask Mr. Tinder… I guess that’s his real name.
Testimonials are statements testifying users’ personal experiences with a product and its quality. Visitors identify with those leaving reviews because they were probably looking for the product or service. Hence, testimonials add a layer of credibility to your website, and users could potentially acquire your products based on referrals from people they don’t know, yet feel they belong to the same community.
Your testimonial page becomes a platform to show how your business benefited other users, and that is a very important feature because new visitors are skeptical when they first reach your site. To bring down those barriers, reviews and testimonials should resonate with your audience, inspire them, serve as motivation, and make them cry. Hard.
Reviews are also a big deal because they provide insights about your audience that perhaps you did not expect. For example, you might be selling an antiseptic and find out that people are actually drinking it. Why? Why would people in their right mind do that? That’s how Listerine was born.
Always pay attention to where you locate testimonials. Placement is crucial because, obviously, you want it to be smooth and not become annoying. Nobody likes a pretentious little… person.
5. Social Media
I’m sure you have heard of this thing people use called social media. I’m sure you are on it and if you are not… what? How would you know who Billie Eilish is?
With all its drawbacks, social media is one of the best ways for businesses to communicate and engage with their target audience. They are huge for brand recognition and growth, and they allow you to foster a community with your users, thereby increasing their loyalty to your business. Sounds good right? It is good. It is work too.
Everybody wants more likes and shares on social media because they might lead to higher revenue. Hence, it is essential that you have links to your social media profiles at first sight and share buttons on your content. They will increase traffic. And traffic, exceptionally high-quality traffic, means more followers, subscribers, buyers or whatever you want them to be.
If you can, add widgets like AddToAny plugin and other forms of social media integration, so your website doesn’t look or feel like an island.
And not a cool island like Aruba or Heaven, which is definitely an island named Aruba.
6. Facebook Messenger Chat Feature
People visit business websites for the same reason they attend church – searching for answers. And no to bash on Holiness, but websites have the advantage that they can seamlessly incorporate live chat to help users with their concerns in real time.
Visitors across the globe are enjoying Messenger. Thus, blending your site with Facebook Messenger Chat is a superb choice to upgrade your customer service, product recommendations, marketing, and promotions. If you want to take it even a step further, I urge you to get WP-Chatbot by MobileMonkey. It is truly the best way to add Messenger chat to a WordPress site.
It has no need to open extra tabs when using it, and the chatbot communicates with the user in a very natural language. It functions 24/7 while you sleep like a baby. Well, a big baby with no diapers.
Don’t worry, it is no Skynet.
7. Call-to-Action (CTA)
Last but not least, let’s talk about call-to-action. What is it? Why is it important? And how different is it from GTA (Grand Theft Auto)?
Quite a lot. For starters, it is not a videogame, but a statement that guides visitors to performing actions like buying a product/service or subscribing to a newsletter.
Call-to-action should be clear and concise. The website itself should perform as a CTA since many visitors look for contact information. Hence, everything related to it should be easily accessible.
Calls-to-action should not meander about but get to the point as concisely as possible. Also, the website is in itself a CTA as many people tend to visit to find contact information.
When constructing CTA, you should think about the words and the colors you’ll use for your buttons, as different colors trigger different emotions.
Let’s Make a Quick Recap.
As each day passes, technology moves fast, and users are getting smarter. Therefore it is vital for websites to know and follow trends so they can look and feel updated. There is no one, unique formula to success, but years of experience have taught me that these elements (responsive design, navigation, media, testimonials, social media, chats, and CTA) are essential.