Setting up a website is one thing; setting up a user-friendly, well-designed website is another.

There is no one “right” way to design a website since your goals for your site and your target market will affect your layout, features and functionality. It is important, however, to always consider how your customer will be interacting with your site. How you build your website is more about them than it is you.

You have 4 basic areas of your website – your header, sidebar(s), footer and main content area – in which to locate your key website features. Some website features could be placed in more than 1 part of your site. For example, your social media icons could be placed in your header area (like here on Eli | Rose) or in your sidebar.

Below is a list of 6 features your website needs:

6 “Must Have” Website Features

  • Social Sharing Buttons – Make it as easy as possible for others to share your website’s content to popular social media platforms by adding social sharing buttons to your website. Be sure to locate those buttons at the bottom of the page and customize those buttons’ settings to include your brand’s username (when applicable). Also, it’s important to make it easy for people to share your website’s pages to social networks because of social media’s influence on search engines.
  • Search bar – Nothing is more frustrating to a website visitor than not being able to find what you are looking for on a site. Search bars are typically a default feature on popular website platforms, so adding it to your site should be an easy task. Your sidebar is a great place to locate your search bar. On our site, our WordPress theme has a default option to have the search bar as part of our Nav Bar.
  • Social Media Icons – Social media can no longer be thought on as a separate or optional marketing task. Social media is as much a part of your job as customer service, billing and the like. Be sure to add linked social media icons to your website for all platforms where you have an active presence.
  • Newsletter signup – Building an email list is something successful business owners often advise as a task to start from Day 1 of your new business. If you use a service like MailChimp, be sure to add the code needed for a newsletter subscription signup to a widget in either your website’s sidebar or footer.
MailChimp-newsletter-signup

For those who also have a business blog, here are 2 more essential features

  • Multiple subscription methods – You might only subscribe to other sites’ feeds via your RSS reader. But people may prefer to receive your new blog posts in their inbox instead. Providing more than one option means your customers can subscribe in the way they prefer.
  • Archives plus Category List or Tag Cloud – For the same reason as why you need a search bar for your website, archives, categories and tag clouds provide a customer multiple ways to search your in-depth content to find what they are looking for.
 Beyond these 6 features, what else do you think is a website non-negotiable?

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