Functionality Options for Your Website
Selecting the website features that will turn searchers into visitors and visitors into buyers, and repeat visitors can be challenging. As web platforms and software grow at exponential rates, site owners are faced with a plethora of potential features to choose from. Website features are limited only by imagination, and new ones constantly emerge. So, what is out there that might work for your target market?
Popular Website Features
Here is a brief categorization of some of the more common types of website features, including stores, auctions, forums, articles, directories, news, and entertainment.
Stores – Online stores can be used to sell products on websites and also easily interact as a point of sale service. WordPress with the Woocommerce plugin provides an easy way to get started with an online store.
Catalogs – Catalog-type e-commerce sites provide listings of categorized products that can be purchased for a fixed amount. Usually, a shopping cart is employed, allowing visitors to select multiple items for purchase.
Auctions – Auctions function similarly to eBay and allow visitors to bid on items, whereas the highest bidder wins. These auctions have a time limit and sometimes have a buy now button. A buy now button is a button that allows a bidder to end the auction and guarantee purchase by paying a set fixed price.
Forums – Forums are message boards that allow visitors to post messages on your website and interact with other visitors. An advantage of forums is that can they can bring visitors back to your site time and time again to post and follow conversations. If done correctly, forums can also provide large amounts of content for search engines to spider. The downside of forums is that they can make your site look bad if no one is using them, and it can be tricky to get people to use them. Also, it is wise to have forums moderated so that people play nice and don’t talk badly about your site.
Articles – Articles are a concise way to convey information and provide a reason for web surfers to come to your site. In addition to providing a valuable resource to your web visitors, articles also provide content for search engines. Adding articles to a site is essential in many SEO strategies.
Directories – Directories categorize other websites, businesses, or just about anything. Some directories are enormous, like Yahoo!, while others may be very small and specific only to a small target audience. Smaller directories can often be quite useful to web visitors, particularly if the directory includes editor reviews, ratings and/or recommendations.
News – News sites have articles on current events. They are typically updated throughout the day and have search functions that can retrieve archives. An advantage of a news site is that often audiences return daily. A disadvantage is the need to update the site constantly.
Entertainment Website Features
Video – Video can be delivered over the Internet in various ways. Some of the most popular methods are Youtube, Vimeo, self-hosting, and social networks, though there are many others. Short clips to full-length shows and movies are popular formats.
Music – Like video, music can be broadcast in various formats and through a wide variety of channels. Many band sites allow downloads of their songs in MP3 format or samples. They may also have a Youtube channel where they feature music videos and a presence in online music stores.
Games – The Internet has provided gamers with a wide variety of options. Games can cost any where from free to pay as you go to a one-time payment to subscription fees. Game sites often have loyal followings that come back repeatedly, making the audience prime for advertising. They usually feature game reviews, sneak peeks, tips, and more.
E-Print – Stories, blogs and articles are all ways people use websites to share their ideas with the written word. Many sites provide downloads of printable ebooks, planners, posters, calendars, or coupons, blurring the line between traditional print and the Internet.
Calculators – Many sites offer these in-demand features, from basic calculators to calculators for specific equations to pricing calculators. They are prevalent on sites targeting startups, offering business services, or providing self-help solutions.
Many sites will utilize a combination of these different website features to create powerful and complete user experiences. Others have yet to explore the possibilities of their websites fully. As television, print, radio, and the web have merged, the Internet’s role in business, information, and entertainment grows exponentially. By using different types of website features, companies can deliver unique offerings that meet the needs of their target market and gain huge advantages over their competition.