Most of us have experienced visiting a business website that’s easy to use and genuinely helps a consumer find needed information, take an action or make a purchase. Unfortunately, most of us have also visited business websites that are difficult to navigate or don’t have the content and functionality we’re looking for.
Tech experts and enthusiasts approach business websites both with an awareness of what’s possible via technology and a consumer’s desire for a smooth, easy user journey, so they have unique insight into what makes for a truly effective business website. While there are some tech-forward “bells and whistles” that make a good impression on them, often it’s helpful content that’s the real game-changer. Here, 16 members of Forbes Technology Council share features they love to see on a business website and why these additions can make a site so much more effective.
1. Sign-In Integration
I love it when websites feature Google or social media sign-in integration. We all visit so many websites, and we have so many passwords. Being able to sign into a business website with your most commonly used credentials means you’re less likely to get blocked by forgetting your password. It’s simple, yet so many websites still don’t allow this feature. – Kevin Philpott, Pie Insurance
2. A Responsive Chat Function
A big win for websites is a chat function that responds well and creates a positive customer experience. Intelligent chat that mimics human interaction can allow someone to resolve issues or get help with products and services digitally, in a faster, more convenient way, outside of business hours. – Bill Bruno, D4t4 Solutions Plc
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3. An Accessibility Sidebar
Any site can benefit from an accessibility sidebar that allows visually impaired users to see more of the internet. It helps colorblind people to better read charts and low-vision users to customize contrast and font settings to improve the reading experience. It’s a toolkit from Google, and it should be a standard part of the Chrome family. – Cleve Gibbon, Wunderman Thompson
I really like it when website content is well-organized and the user can easily find the information they’re looking for. Multi-level menus with complex wording just eat a lot of the user’s time. When working on the user experience of a new website (business or not), imagine that your grandma will be using it. Is it easy to read, understand, navigate and use on mobile? If the answer to all these is “yes,” you are halfway to a great solution! – Nadya Knysh, a1qa
5. A ‘Search’ Function
The feature I’m always looking for is a “Search” bar. If the website answers the top question I have—what their product or service is and what it actually does—then I usually want to quickly find details on several different aspects of using it. In most cases, this is best achieved via a search for specific keywords around integration, use cases, compatibility and so on, rather than browsing through the menus. – Boyan Ivanov, StorPool Storage
6. A ‘Save For Later’ Feature
My favorite website feature is a “Read It Later” or “Save For Later” tool with a reminder option. Not many websites have it, but for a curious person like me who opens dozens of tags, it helps me be more effective and focused. – Mex Emini, KaFe Rocks
7. Guided Navigation
I love the use of AI/ML-guided navigation and mature natural language processing chat engines on websites. I’m here for a single purpose (sometimes two), and my time is valuable. I shouldn’t need to watch a video or learn your navigation just to complete my mission. Accelerate my mission with me. – Rene Head, The Methodical Group
8. Product Videos
It seems like every website uses the same jargon and messaging, which makes it really tough to figure out what makes a particular company unique. When I visit a technology vendor website, I love to see short, consumable product tutorial videos that show how the product works. The old adage, “A picture is worth a thousand words” especially applies when evaluating technology. – Dave Mariani, AtScale
9. Shimmer Loaders
I appreciate shimmer loaders for blocks that are not instantly available. Of course, it is better to have everything load instantly, but when you’re on a slow connection, it feels much better to have gray, animated placeholders instead of having the page content jump all over the place as it loads. – Arturs Kruze, Magebit
10. A ‘Back To The Top’ Button
Something as simple as a “Back to the Top” feature, especially on longer pages, is very helpful. It’s intuitive, it can be communicated with a simple icon and it helps center us by taking us to the start. Something like that tells me that the company cares a good deal about “quality of life” and cares about the customer experience. – Jacob Mathison, Mathison Projects Inc.
11. Social Proof
Social proof is fundamental to giving your prospects the reassurance you’re worth having a conversation with. What I hate, though, is when companies claim they’ve worked with multinationals, but the client reviews are only from small, local businesses. Be transparent and honest, and add a video testimonial to your website—this will give you much more authority than using a big name with no evidence. – Konstantin Klyagin, Redwerk
12. Customer Success Stories
Customer success stories really resonate. Few companies or businesses want to be the first to implement anything, and customer success stories give the reader confidence in the technology or solution that they are investigating. Nothing resonates with future customers like finding success stories that are relevant. – Don Murray, Safe Software Inc.
13. User Reviews
My favorite thing to see on a website is user reviews. A large majority of people will not take action on a website until they read reviews and testimonials from real customers. Instead of hoping consumers will find reviews off-site and return, display them proudly on your product catalog and landing pages to maximize your conversion rate. – Thomas Griffin, OptinMonster
14. Mobile-Friendly Design
Now that more than half of global website traffic is generated on mobile devices, it is surprising how many websites still offer suboptimal mobile design: images that are too small, text that is too big, misplaced buttons and so on. I spend lots of time on my phone, and like everyone else, I enjoy a website that translates smoothly on a mobile device and works just as well functionally. – Peter Abualzolof, Mashvisor
15. A Comparison Tool
I always pay attention to how the tool for comparing goods or services offered by a business website is implemented. If I can quickly make a decision using this tool and choose the package of services or product I need, it means that the solution developed by the tech team works and brings real value to the business. – Vasily Voropaev, Smartbrain.io
16. A Quick Checkout Option
I think a differentiating characteristic among retail websites is a quick checkout method. It generally suggests an organization is interested in the consumer experience, even at the cost of trying to add additional units to the cart. It speaks to a consumer-focused experience and a commitment to customer retention. – Kyle Pretsch, Leslie’s Poolmart