Learning how to create a business website can be an exciting, but sometimes overwhelming process. There’s a lot that goes into the planning and creation of a website.
When creating a business website, you want to include the essential features that improve your user experience and overall return on investment (ROI).
But how do you decide what’s essential and what’s not?
Keep reading to learn:
- What makes a good website
- 24 essential website features you need for your small business
What Makes a Good Website?
Ultimately, a good business website helps you bring in more happy customers. When you’re creating a business website, the user experience is the most important part.
So, what makes an exceptional customer experience?
A website that offers a great user experience ensures the customer can find the right information at the right time, with few obstacles. In other words, it’s easy and pleasant to use.
To create the best experience for your users, you want to include these 24 essential features of a small business website.
Essential Features to Include When Creating a Business Website
According to Nielsen Norman Group research, most people scan websites before reading the content word for word. When they scan, visitors begin at the top of the website with your header and look horizontally from left to right.
When creating a business website, make sure your header is clean and professional.
Logos help you establish your brand identity and create trust with your customers.
A good logo is simple and easy to read, and it should appear in the top-left corner of your website header.
It’s important to place your logo in the top-left corner because of what we know about customer expectations and behavior. Today, most people expect to see a logo on the header’s left side. They also expect your logo to serve as a Home button.
If you move your logo somewhere unexpected, your customers may have difficulty navigating back to your homepage.
2. Website Tagline
Your brand’s tagline should appear prominently on your homepage, under your header. Along with your logo, your tagline underscores your brand’s mission or purpose to online visitors.
It’s another excellent way to build the correct brand associations and develop trust with potential customers.
3. Navigation Menu
Navigation menus are usually centered at the top of your website header or aligned to the right. Either way, a good business website should always have an easy-to-navigate menu so visitors can find the information they want quickly.
To avoid adding too many items to your main menu, you can make use of dropdown menus. For example, your main menu might include a Products category, and the dropdown list will have various product subgroups.
Every good business website needs a call-to-action (CTA), and preferably more than one. Since the header is one of the first things people scan, it’s an appropriate spot to place a call-to-action.
If a customer is already familiar with your brand, they won’t have to look any further. On the other hand, first-time visitors may not be ready to convert. With this in mind, avoid overly aggressive calls-to-action in your header.
Depending on your header design, you may also choose to include a CTA in this above the fold (before scrolling) section if it provides a better user experience.
Features to Include Above the Fold
In the web design world, above the fold refers to the section of your website that is visible when the page first loads. To put it another way, it is what the visitor can see without having to scroll.
This section above the fold is a major determinant of the visitor’s first impression of your website, so it’s essential to get it right.
5. Hero Image
A hero image is the first main image seen on a webpage. Typically, these are horizontally-oriented images that span the top of the page above the fold.
Since people process images faster than they process text, hero images can significantly impact a visitor’s first impression of your website. As if that’s not enough, websites that feature visual content (rather than just text) typically grow traffic 12% faster than those that don’t.
When creating a business website, you want to create an impact right away. So, to make a good first impression, include a hero image (or video) above the fold. Your hero image should be high-quality, engaging, and relevant.
You can find high-quality, free stock photos that you can use on your small business website on websites like Pexels or Unsplash. If you prefer graphic visuals to photography, Freepik.com is another excellent resource. That said, unique visuals will have a much greater impact than stock photography a visitor may have been exposed to in the past.
6. A Unique Selling Proposition (USP)
Your unique selling proposition (also known as your unique value proposition) tells your customers exactly what you provide them, and how it’s different from your competitors.
Pay attention to the “different from your competitors” part of the definition. You can’t just tell people what your business does; you also have to convince them to choose you over the other options. A convincing USP is one of the most important features of a good business website.
You don’t need to have a formal statement — you can use a short catchphrase or include text within your hero image section.
Wherever you decide to position your USP, make sure the typography is clear and easy to read. You want to give your website visitors a reason to keep scrolling, browse other pages, or give you their information.
7. Social Proof
A truly effective business website establishes trust right away.
Think about it: if you want potential customers to convert, you need to make them trust you. A good website feels trustworthy to visitors.
By now, you might be asking yourself, “Well, how do I build trust?”
The answer is social proof.
Social proof involves proving that other people have purchased your product or service and had a positive experience.
One of the best ways you can build trust is through testimonials. You can’t do better than real quotes from happy customers. If you have positive testimonials (or even just one), try to include them at the top of your page.
If you don’t want to take up too much space above the fold, there are other ways to establish trust right away, including:
- Industry awards/rankings
- Client logos
8. Basic Contact Information
When you’re creating a business website, you need to establish what you offer and why people should buy from you. After you do those two things, the final piece of information they need is how to do business with you (or where you’re located).
There is nothing more frustrating than visiting a website and then digging for what should be obvious information. When creating a website for your business, make sure to include all of your contact information in an easily accessible way.
Make it easy to find the phone number or email address that a potential customer can use to contact you. If you have a physical address where you do most of your business, it’s a good idea to include that in your header or above the fold.
Customers may also expect to find your contact information at the bottom of your website in the footer.
Website Features to Include in the Footer
If you want to know what makes a good website, it’s paying attention to all of the details — including the footer. Your website footer is an important but often overlooked website feature.
Your website’s footer serves as the secondary information hub and navigational tool.
Here’s what you need to include.
9. Website Navigation
In addition to the primary menu in your website header, your footer should also include a navigation section. However, your footer menu doesn’t need to be an exact copy of your primary menu.
For example, links to legal pages and FAQ pages are typically included in footer menus but not primary menus.
10. Legal Pages and Copyright information
Your copyright details allow you to claim ownership of all of the content on your website.
Note that your copyright information usually doesn’t require its own page. You can simply include a copyright notation (© [your business]) in your website footer on every page. Other types of legal pages that might be relevant to your website include disclaimers, patents, and trademarks.
11. Social Media Buttons
Your social media profiles can be some of your best marketing tools, and, as such, they are important website features.
However, you don’t want people leaving your website right away to check out your social media profiles.
Think about it: your website is where you capture leads and make sales. So, you want to keep people on your website as long as you can.
This is why you’ll find that when creating a business website, most web designers choose to place social media buttons in the footer (rather than the header). And since it’s become such common practice, users who specifically want to find your social media accounts know to scroll to the bottom to find these links.
12. Business Hours
If you have a brick and mortar store, you want to include your business hours on your website. But, this information can take up a lot of space, so it’s not always best to place it in your header.
Instead, hours of operation are commonly included in the footer of small business websites.
Alternatively, if you provide a service or a digital product, you might not have store hours to share. That being said, if you offer customer service during particular time periods, then make sure to include those hours in your website footer.
One of the most important features of a good business website is making sure it answers the most common questions that customers have.
Remember, your website is the main resource for your existing customers (not just the new ones).
13. Contact Information
Similar to your business hours, your contact information should also be in your footer. Many people expect to find this information in the footer, so not including it could confuse your users.
Additionally, you can more easily include detailed contact information in your footer than you can in your header. For example, the contact information in your footer might include a business mailing address or phone number.
Website Features to Include in Internal Pages
The internal pages of your website do the work of educating and servicing your customers online. Your goal should always be to create high-quality content and provide a great user experience.
14. About Us Page
When you’re creating a business website, you’ll need to create an About Us page.
Your About Us page tells the story of your business.
It’s a great opportunity to highlight your competitive advantages (i.e., what makes your business unique). This page doesn’t do a lot of selling per se, but it gives your potential customers a chance to get to know you.
Use this page to inject your brand’s personality into your website.
15. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
One of the features of a good business website is its ability to take some of the workload off you and your team. As far as website features go, a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page does its share of heavy lifting.
Your FAQ page answers the most frequently asked questions related to your business offerings. It should cover questions asked by both potential and existing customers.
16. Conversion Page
Your conversion page is one of the most important website features to include when creating a business website. We say conversion here because not every conversion refers to a sale.
For example, a conversion for your business might involve signing up for your newsletter emails or downloading a free digital resource.
Either way, you want to include a dedicated conversion page on your website. In many cases, this involves creating a landing page.
A landing page is a standalone web page that you can link to from your website.
This page aims to remove all distractions so the user can focus on taking that conversion action.
17. Contact Form
Usability is one of the features that makes a good website. It should be easy for any prospective or existing customers to get in touch with you when they’re ready.
The best way to do this is by including a contact form directly on your website. Online forms can also help you gather useful information from your users, such as asking how they found your website.
But, remember, keep your contact form simple and make sure to include it when you test your website functionality before you launch.
18. Product/Services Page
Another essential website feature to include when creating a business website is the product or services page. Even if you don’t have an online store, you should still have a product page.
Your product or services page provides your users with all the information they need before deciding to buy.
When talking about your business offerings, include compelling images wherever possible. And, it’s always helpful to include social proof on your product page as well.
19. Internal Links
An internal link connects one page on your website to another page (still on your website). When creating a business website, use internal links to help users navigate your website more easily.
As a general rule, your internal links shouldn’t link to top-level pages. Think about it: your logo goes back to your homepage and your header menu is at the top of every page. So, if you want to get the most out of internal links, use them to direct users to specific product pages or blogs.
SEO and Technical Requirements for a Business Website
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of designing your website so that it’s likely to rank at the top of relevant search engine results (primarily Google).
The rules for SEO can change frequently, but they are all based on two primary elements: relevancy and positive user experience.
Here’s what you can do to optimize your website functionality and content to appear in search engine results.
20. Mobile Responsive Website Functionality
More than 90% of users search for local businesses on their mobile devices, which makes mobile responsive design a crucial website feature for small businesses.
Mobile responsive design refers to a website that adapts to the size of the screen it’s viewed on.
In other words, the layout automatically adjusts to fit different size screens for different devices. Given that more people rely on mobile web search to find business and research products, responsive design is a must-have for small business websites.
If you’re building your own website through WordPress, this simply means choosing a mobile-friendly WordPress theme. If you already have a website for your small business, you can test whether or not it’s mobile-friendly with Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test tool.
21. Fast and Reliable Hosting
There are two major technical requirements you’ll need to satisfy to create a good user experience on your website. First, your website should load quickly. Second, your website shouldn’t be crashing all the time.
Furthermore, if you want to rank high in relevant search on Google, you should always be looking to increase your page load speed. Google doesn’t share every ranking signal that makes up it’s search algorithm — but page load speed is something they’ve come out to state as important.
If you’re creating a business website as a DIY project, there are some simple ways to increase your page load speed, such as optimizing image and video file sizes. However, if you choose to hire a website designer, you should make it known that page load speed is a priority before starting the design process.
As for avoiding website crashes, this comes down to selecting a reliable provider for your web hosting services. Do research to make sure you select the right hosting service for your website.
22. Search Engine Optimized Page Titles and Descriptions
SEO title tags and page descriptions are HTML elements that tell search engines what a given webpage is about. Search engines crawl (or scan through) these elements when deciding how to rank your website in search results.
When writing SEO title tags and page descriptions, make sure to include one primary keyword. A primary keyword is the search term that is most relevant to your content. Be careful to use the right number of characters in your title tags and descriptions.
23. Google Analytics Integration
Google Analytics lets you measure and track the performance of your website. In addition to your overall traffic and pageviews, you can view valuable insights about your users, such as demographics and behavior.
With Google Analytics, you can learn more about your audience and leverage these insights to help you create the best user experience.
However, Google will not start tracking just because you launched your website. You have to install Google Analytics to your website to begin gathering tracking data.
24. SSL Certificate
An SSL Certificate enables your website to create a secure connection with different browsers by encrypting the information they send to one another. If you’re creating a business website, then you need an SSL certificate.
When a website has an active SSL certificate, you’ll notice that the URL begins with “https” rather than just “http.” The benefits of having an SSL certificate include better Google rankings, improved conversion rates, and greater trust with your customers.
Without an SSL certificate, some browsers (like Google Chrome) may refuse to show your website as normal, showing users a message that your website is not secure. So, when you purchase your domain and web hosting services, be sure to get an SSL Certificate as well.
Final Thoughts: Essential Features for Creating a Business Website
There are a lot of moving pieces to put together as you’re creating a business website. However, these 24 essential website features will ensure that your website visitors have a great experience.
To learn more about your web hosting options, check out iPage’s various hosting plans for fast and reliable service.