6 ways to decide what different website features to include

Choosing the right features for your business’s website is crucial to its success. By following the six methods outlined in this article, you can make informed decisions that align with your business goals, target audience, and available resources. In this blog, we’ll explore different website features and provide insights on how to choose the right ones for your business, depending on your website’s role and the needs of your customer personas.

Understanding your website’s role is key to choosing the right features

Before we get to decide on the right website features for your business we need to understand a few basics – what is your website for , who is going to visit it and what experience will they expect when they do? Lets break this down into 3 tasks we need to do before we can even consider features;

  1. Define your website’s purpose – Clearly articulate the primary objectives and goals your website aims to fulfil.
  2. Identify your target audience – Gain insights into the demographics, preferences, and needs of the audience you intend to attract and serve.
  3. Map your user’s website journey – Outline the expected steps and interactions users will take when navigating through your website, ensuring a seamless and satisfying experience.

With these decided you can now start to look at features that you would want to include to help your website succeed with the right audience and give them an experience they will enjoy.

Different website feature types for SMBs

When it comes to building or updating a website for your small or medium-sized business (SMB), it’s essential to prioritise features that align with your business goals and cater to the needs of your target audience. These features can be categorised into three main types:

Core features

Core features are the fundamental elements that every SMB website should include. These features serve as the foundation for establishing your online presence and engaging with your audience effectively.

Advanced features

Advanced features go beyond the basics and offer additional functionality to enhance user engagement, streamline processes, and drive conversions. While not essential for every SMB website, these features can provide significant benefits in terms of competitiveness and customer satisfaction.

Specific features

Specific need features cater to unique requirements or preferences based on your industry, business model, or target audience. These features address specific challenges or opportunities faced by your SMB, allowing you to differentiate yourself from competitors and meet the needs of your customers effectively.

How to decide on different website features to include

By carefully considering the following methods and integrating them into your website development strategy, you can create a website that not only reflects your brand identity but also delivers a seamless and engaging user experience. Remember, your website is a powerful tool that can drive business growth and customer engagement when equipped with the right features. So, take the time to assess your needs, prioritise your objectives, and choose features that will elevate your online presence and support your business goals.

Method 1 – Assessing Your Industry and Market Trends

Staying informed about industry trends and market dynamics is essential for ensuring that your website remains competitive and relevant. Here are some strategies to help you assess your industry and market trends effectively:

Conduct Market ResearchInvest time in researching your industry landscape to understand emerging trends, consumer preferences, and competitors’ strategies. Analyse market reports, industry publications, and competitor websites to identify common patterns and areas of innovation.
Monitor Competitor WebsitesRegularly visit competitor websites to observe their features, content offerings, and user experience. Pay attention to any new features or functionalities they introduce, as these may indicate emerging trends or customer demands.
Stay Updated on Technology AdvancesKeep abreast of technological advancements and innovations that may impact your industry. Follow technology blogs, attend industry conferences, and join relevant online forums to stay informed about new tools, platforms, and best practices.
Analyse Customer FeedbackSolicit feedback from your existing customers through surveys, interviews, or social media channels. Pay attention to their comments, suggestions, and pain points regarding your website’s features and functionality. Use this feedback to identify areas for improvement and prioritise feature development accordingly.
Leverage Analytics DataUtilise website analytics tools to gather data on user behaviour, traffic patterns, and engagement metrics. Identify popular pages, frequently visited sections, and user drop-off points to pinpoint areas of improvement. Use this data to inform your decision-making process and prioritise feature enhancements that align with user needs and preferences.
Collaborate with Industry ExpertsEngage with industry experts, consultants, or digital marketing agencies to gain insights into emerging trends and best practices. Leverage their expertise to assess your website’s current state, identify gaps, and develop a roadmap for implementing new features and improvements.

By actively assessing your industry and market trends, you can ensure that your website remains competitive, user-friendly, and aligned with evolving customer expectations.

Method 2 – Benchmarking Against Competitors

Analysing your competitors’ websites can provide valuable insights into their unique selling points and areas for improvement. Here’s how you can effectively benchmark against competitors:

Identify Key CompetitorsStart by identifying your main competitors within your industry or niche. These could be companies offering similar products or services, targeting the same audience segment, or operating in the same geographic region.
Analyze Competitor WebsitesVisit your competitors’ websites and carefully analyse their design, layout, content, and functionality. Take note of any unique features, compelling visuals, or interactive elements that set them apart from the competition.
Identify Strengths and WeaknessesEvaluate your competitors’ websites objectively to identify their strengths and weaknesses. Assess how they position their brand, communicate their value proposition, and engage with their audience. Look for areas where they excel and areas where they fall short.
Compare Features and FunctionalityCompare the features and functionality offered by your competitors’ websites with your own. Pay attention to features such as navigation, search functionality, product listings, checkout process, and customer support options. Identify any gaps or areas where your website can improve.
Learn from Success StoriesIdentify industry leaders or top-performing competitors and study their success stories. Analyse what strategies they have implemented to achieve success and how they differentiate themselves from the competition. Look for inspiration and ideas that you can adapt and implement on your own website.
Benchmark Performance MetricsCompare key performance metrics such as website traffic, conversion rates, bounce rates, and average session duration with those of your competitors. Use tools like Google Analytics or similar analytics platforms to gather data and benchmark your performance against industry averages.

By benchmarking against your competitors, you can gain valuable insights into industry best practices, identify areas for improvement, and develop strategies to enhance your website’s competitiveness and performance.

Method 3 – Prioritising Features Based on Budget and Resources

When deciding which features to include on your website, it’s essential to be realistic about your budget and resources. Here’s how you can prioritise features based on your financial constraints and available resources:

Assess Your BudgetBegin by evaluating your budget for website development and ongoing maintenance. Determine how much you’re willing to invest in building and maintaining your website, taking into account factors such as design, development, hosting, and ongoing support.
Identify Must-Have FeaturesIdentify the essential features that are critical for achieving your business goals and meeting the needs of your target audience. These must-have features may include a user-friendly interface, responsive design, clear navigation, and secure payment processing, among others.
Evaluate Cost vs. ValueAssess the cost of implementing each feature against its potential value and impact on your business. Consider factors such as the expected return on investment (ROI), potential revenue generation, and long-term benefits for your business.
Prioritise High-Impact FeaturesPrioritise features that offer the highest value and impact on your business goals within your budget constraints. Focus on features that enhance user experience, drive conversions, and align with your overall business objectives.
Consider ScalabilityKeep scalability in mind when prioritising features, especially if you have limited resources initially. Choose features that allow for future growth and expansion, enabling you to add more advanced functionalities as your business grows and evolves.
Explore Cost-Effective SolutionsLook for cost-effective solutions and alternatives for implementing essential features without breaking the bank. Consider open-source platforms, pre-designed templates, and affordable plugins or extensions that offer the functionality you need at a lower cost.
Plan for Phased ImplementationIf budget constraints are significant, consider implementing features in phases based on priority and importance. Start with essential features and gradually add more advanced functionalities as your budget allows and your business grows.

By prioritising features based on your budget and resources, you can make informed decisions about which features to include on your website and ensure that your investment delivers maximum value and impact for your business.

Method 4 – Collaborative Approach

Taking a collaborative approach to deciding which website features to include can lead to more informed decisions and greater alignment with your business objectives. Here’s how you can leverage collaboration to prioritise features effectively:

Identify Key StakeholdersDetermine who the key stakeholders are in the website development process. This may include internal team members from various departments such as marketing, sales, customer service, and IT, as well as external partners such as web developers, designers, and consultants.
Establish Clear ObjectivesClearly define your business objectives and goals for the website. Ensure that all stakeholders have a shared understanding of the purpose of the website and the desired outcomes you want to achieve. This alignment will guide the decision-making process and help prioritise features that support your objectives.
Conduct Collaborative WorkshopsOrganise collaborative workshops or meetings involving key stakeholders to brainstorm and discuss potential website features. Encourage open communication and idea-sharing to gather diverse perspectives and insights. Use collaborative tools and techniques such as brainstorming sessions, affinity mapping, and user story mapping to facilitate productive discussions.
Gather Feedback and InputSolicit feedback and input from all stakeholders throughout the decision-making process. Encourage team members to share their insights, concerns, and preferences regarding website features. Consider conducting surveys, interviews, or focus groups to gather valuable input from both internal and external stakeholders.
Evaluate Options TogetherEvaluate different feature options as a team, considering factors such as feasibility, impact, and alignment with business objectives. Discuss the pros and cons of each feature and weigh them against your budget and resources. Use consensus-building techniques to reach agreement on which features to prioritise.
Define Roles and ResponsibilitiesClearly define roles and responsibilities for implementing and maintaining website features. Assign tasks to team members based on their expertise and availability, ensuring accountability and ownership throughout the development process.
Foster Continuous CollaborationMaintain ongoing communication and collaboration among stakeholders even after the website launch. Regularly review website performance, gather feedback from users, and identify opportunities for improvement. Foster a culture of continuous improvement and collaboration to ensure that your website evolves to meet changing business needs and user expectations.

By taking a collaborative approach to deciding which website features to include, you can leverage the collective expertise and insights of your team to make informed decisions that drive business success.

Method 5 – Conducting User Testing and Feedback Analysis

User testing and feedback analysis are essential methods for gathering insights directly from your target audience to inform website feature decisions. Here’s how you can effectively conduct user testing and analyze feedback:

Define Testing ObjectivesClearly define the objectives of your user testing efforts. Determine what specific aspects of your website you want to evaluate, such as usability, navigation, content clarity, or functionality.
Recruit Test ParticipantsIdentify your target audience and recruit a diverse group of participants to participate in the user testing sessions. Aim to include individuals who represent different demographics, backgrounds, and levels of familiarity with your website or industry.
Develop Testing ScenariosCreate realistic testing scenarios or tasks that reflect common user interactions and goals on your website. Provide participants with clear instructions and guidance on how to complete each task.
Conduct Testing SessionsFacilitate user testing sessions either in-person or remotely, depending on your resources and preferences. Observe participants as they interact with your website and note any usability issues, confusion points, or areas of improvement.
Collect FeedbackGather feedback from participants through various methods, such as verbal feedback during testing sessions, written surveys, or post-test interviews. Encourage participants to share their thoughts, opinions, and suggestions for improvement openly.
Analyse FeedbackAnalyse the feedback collected from user testing sessions to identify common themes, patterns, and pain points. Look for recurring issues or areas where users struggled to complete tasks effectively. Prioritise feedback based on its impact on user experience and business objectives.
Iterate and ImproveUse the insights gained from user testing to inform iterative improvements to your website. Address identified usability issues, streamline navigation pathways, and optimise content to better meet user needs and expectations. Continuously monitor user feedback and make ongoing refinements to enhance the overall user experience.
Monitor Performance MetricsTrack key performance metrics such as bounce rate, time on page, conversion rate, and user engagement to measure the impact of your website improvements. Use analytics tools to monitor user behaviour and identify areas for further optimisation.

By conducting user testing and analysing feedback, you can gain valuable insights into how real users interact with your website and identify opportunities for improvement. Incorporating user feedback into your decision-making process ensures that your website features are tailored to meet the needs and preferences of your target audience.

Method 6 – Iterative Development

Iterative development is a dynamic approach to website development that emphasizes continuous improvement and adaptation based on ongoing feedback and analysis. Here’s how you can implement an iterative development process for your website:

Define Clear GoalsStart by defining clear goals and objectives for your website, such as increasing user engagement, driving conversions, or improving brand visibility. These goals will serve as the foundation for your iterative development process.
Break Down Development into IterationsDivide the website development process into manageable iterations or phases, each focusing on specific features, functionality, or improvements. Set achievable milestones for each iteration to track progress effectively.
Build and Test IncrementallyDevelop website features and functionality incrementally, focusing on delivering value to users with each iteration. Test each iteration thoroughly to identify any issues, bugs, or usability concerns that need to be addressed.
Gather FeedbackSolicit feedback from stakeholders, team members, and end-users throughout the iterative development process. Use feedback to identify areas for improvement and prioritise enhancements based on user needs and preferences.
Analyze Performance MetricsMonitor key performance metrics such as website traffic, engagement metrics, conversion rates, and user feedback to evaluate the effectiveness of each iteration. Use analytics tools to gather data and insights into user behaviour and preferences.
Make Data-Driven DecisionsUse data and insights gathered from performance metrics and user feedback to inform decision-making. Identify successful elements that contribute to positive user experiences and prioritise further development efforts accordingly.
Iterate and OptimiseBased on the analysis of performance metrics and user feedback, make iterative improvements to the website. Continuously optimise website features, content, and functionality to enhance user experience, achieve business goals, and stay aligned with evolving market trends.
Repeat the CycleIterate through the development cycle repeatedly, refining and enhancing the website with each iteration. Embrace a culture of continuous improvement, where feedback and data-driven insights drive decision-making and innovation.

By adopting an iterative development approach, you can create a website that evolves over time to meet the changing needs and expectations of your target audience. Embrace flexibility, responsiveness, and a commitment to ongoing improvement to build a website that delivers value and drives success for your business.


Conclusion

Whether you’re assessing industry trends, benchmarking against competitors, or prioritising features based on budget and resources, each method offers valuable insights to guide your decision-making process. Furthermore, adopting a collaborative approach involving key stakeholders and leveraging user testing and feedback analysis can provide valuable perspectives and ensure that your website meets the needs and expectations of your audience. Finally, embracing an iterative development process allows for continuous improvement and optimisation, ensuring that your website remains relevant and effective in the long term.

If you need assistance in identifying and implementing the right website features for your business, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Our team is here to help you navigate the complexities of website development and create a tailored solution that meets your unique requirements. Let’s unlock the full potential of your website together!

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