Posts Tagged "customer satisfaction"

What Features Do You Need on Your Website?

The right web space features can provide excitement, convenience and many other beneficial aspects for your visitors. However, the wrong features can have precisely the opposite effect. When a site is bogged down with features which don’t work properly, aren’t properly maintained or are simply in the way, visitors are likely to look elsewhere. Here, we’ll take a quick look at how to choose the best feature for your web space, along with a few which you absolutely don’t want to waste time on.

Determining the Best Features for Your Site

For nearly every site, there are a few basic features which are essential. If you run a business site of any kind, you need a reliable, trustworthy e-commerce feature to ensure smooth, easy transactions.

If you want your site to be interactive, you need a feature or features which allow for customer input. This might come in the form of a blog, a forum or a chat space – choose the feature which best reflects and complements your own unique business. Once that interactive feature is in place, be sure to maintain it properly—respond in a timely manner and ensure that it’s running well at all times.

Checking out sites which are similar to yours can be a huge time-saver when it comes to selecting features. Visit the web space of a company you are familiar with, and take a close look at which features they offer. If the company is selling a product or service which is similar to your own and is run in a similar manner, chances are good that the same features will be beneficial to your site as well. Taking a look at the most popular packaged plans can also give you a good idea of what may benefit your site. Check out the options here to get started.

Considering your target market is another very important step in choosing features. If your demographic consists of tech-savvy younger consumers, feel free to go crazy and add the most cutting-edge, up-to-date features you can find. Only add features you feel comfortable maintaining, however—those tech-savvy visitors will only be annoyed if they find a feature which isn’t running properly.

If, on the other hand, your target market spans several demographics, you must consider the possibility that many of your visitors may not be as computer-literate as you are. If you sell a product, it may be purchased as a gift—by somebody’s 90-year-old grandmother. If there’s even a chance that your site will attract visitors who are less than savvy when it comes to computer use, keep your essential features as simple as possible. You can still use any feature you think will be beneficial. Simply place the more cutting-edge features below the fold, or someplace else where they can be easily found, but where they won’t create confusion.

What You Don’t Need

Regardless of the type of web space you’re creating or maintaining, there are a couple of features you simply don’t need. They tend to annoy and turn away more customers than anything else, and they don’t have any real value.

Flash intros may be one of the most annoying features on the internet. These introductions were a great way to introduce visitors to your site and showcase your creativity—ten years ago. These days, they’re highly annoying, especially if they can’t be turned off. Ditch them if you have them, and don’t even think about creating a new one.

Auto-play video or audio is nearly as annoying as a Flash intro. We’ve all encountered these from time to time—irritating and inexplicably loud clips of sound, video or both which launch automatically when we visit a site. If you’re like most, you frantically click until you can shut them up. Don’t force your visitors through the same annoying process—avoid auto-play like the plague.

Going Mobile

One last component of your site which can’t be ignored is mobile compatibility. While it’s not technically a ‘feature,’ it’s something you need to have in order to reach more customers and keep them happy. With the increasing numbers of site visitors using smartphones and tablets, mobile compatibility is swiftly becoming a must instead of a nice ‘extra.’ If your site isn’t easily viewable on mobile devices, you’re cutting yourself off from a huge demographic of potential visitors and customers. Choosing the right features is essential to the success of your site, so start your research today and begin building the best possible web space for your business!

Using Pictures to Enhance Your Website

Setting up a new website can be challenging, and one of the most common sticking points is the issue of visuals. A web space needs to be visually appealing in order to grab and hold a customer’s attention. Photographs enhance your site in many different ways, making them an ‘extra’ which no serious site can afford to be without. At our recommended hosts, you’ll find many examples of how visuals can make or break a site.

Connecting with Customers

Creating a personal connection through the internet can be a challenge. This is especially troublesome for small businesses, since many customers are wary of making a purchase from a virtually unknown seller. Although photographs can’t tell customers everything about you or your business, they can have a tremendous impact on consumer trust. Seeing the owner of a shop creates an immediate connection—you’re no longer just another faceless web space among millions. Showcasing yourself or your staff at work is even more powerful, as it lets consumers know that you stand behind the product or service you’re selling. The ‘fun factor’ is a nice bonus as well; people love seeing how things are made and created.

Regardless of the type of website you run, you can find a way to incorporate pictures. If your services are not traditionally photogenic, get creative. A shot of a harried, caffeine-fueled techno-genius hard at work over a keyboard will connect with consumers just as effectively as a lavish shot of a haute couture wedding cake.

Showcase What You Do

Remember that a photograph doesn’t have to include a person in order to be an effective marketing tool. A photo of you and your staff (if applicable) should be somewhere on your site—but feel free to incorporate shots of anything which makes your business tick. If you own a small restaurant, take some candid photos of the building itself. Capture a remodeling project as it happens. Bring your camera to the farmer’s market and score some pictures of the delicious produce you hand-select each morning. These ideas can be customized to fit virtually any type of website.

The People Behind the Service

Web-only services often fall prey to the boring web space trap. After all, they don’t have a storefront, a product, or any real-world items to showcase. However, this is always a mistake. A boring website, at best, tells consumers that you put very little effort into capturing their attention. At worst, it may make them think that you’re running a less-than-reputable business. Fight these negative assumptions by showcasing the people behind your service. Consider posting a staff photo and bio section, allowing consumers to see the real people behind the virtual service. You might include some shots of your workplace, even if it’s just a few cubicles or a cluttered home desk. Anything which lets a consumer connect with you is good for your bottom line.

Your Photos vs. Stock Photos

Stock photos are those available through retailers and wholesalers such as Shutterstock. These images are typically of very high quality, but they can quickly add up and become quite expensive. Thankfully, for most small businesses, stock photos are not necessary. In fact, they can actually be a hindrance to creating a personal consumer connection. So what if the stock-photo woman sitting at a cubicle is a bit better dressed than your employees? Your customers want to see the people behind the service, which stock photos simply can’t deliver.

The Bottom Line

In today’s world, no web space can be without some high-quality, personal photos. Remember that there’s no reason for perfection—customers just want their interest piqued, their curiosity satisfied and a personal connection created. You can probably do this with just your smartphone and a few filters—so get going! Your bottom line will thank you.

Taking Your Web Business to the Real-World

Businesses which are solely online have become increasingly more common. If you own this type of business, you already know just how convenient they are for owners and customers alike. However, there is another dimension you may not have considered—the real-world connection. Here, we’ll review how and why bringing your product real-world will benefit your online sales.

Start Small

There’s no reason to overwhelm yourself with a massive convention in your first real-world sales attempt. In fact, trying to take on one of these huge sales can actually be a recipe for disaster. Most small business owners simply aren’t prepared for sales on such a large scale, even if they’ve been selling online for years. Instead, start small by checking out sales in your local area.

Nearly every product and service can find an appropriate local outlet. If you’re a crafter, there are many craft fairs at churches, community centers and fairs. The more digitally-inclined can also find local venues—most major cities have their own, smaller version of the big, nationally-known conventions. Graphic arts and other techno-skills are ideally suited for these smaller conventions.

Bloggers may feel that their options are more limited, but in reality, nothing could be further from the truth. Whatever your web space subject matter might be, there is a show, convention or fair which caters to your topic. Food bloggers can visit a variety of locations, such as farmer’s markets, cooking schools and organic homesteads. Fashion bloggers can seek out up-and-coming designers in their area. Tech bloggers can visit local conventions and find the latest and greatest local innovations. In short, there is an endless supply of potential real-world topics for every blogger, most of which are only a short drive from home.

The Main Benefit: Personal Connections

Regardless of what your online business might be, the main benefit of going real-world is the unique chance to connect personally with your customer base. People are more likely to purchase a product which they’ve had a chance to try out in person. Once they’ve met you and seen what you have to offer, they’re also more likely to feel confident trying out new products and services via your web space. Our top picks give you plenty of options on how to link real-world featured products to your site and increase those sales figures.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of believing that real-world connections are becoming outdated in today’s society. While online shopping is hugely popular, connecting personally is a basic human instinct which will never go away. By meeting and impressing your client base in the real world, your online sales and traffic will reap the benefits. For most online small business owners, the time spent at these events is well worth it, and repaid several times over in online sales and traffic volume.

Getting Started

If the idea of taking your online business makes you nervous, you’re not alone. Thankfully, there’s no need to jump in all at once. Your web space will benefit from even a short visit to a farmer’s market, tech convention or fashion show. You’ll become more familiar with what works—and what doesn’t—with your target market, which is the ultimate marketing tool. Before you plan to actually sell or blog about a ‘field trip,’ take one on your own and soak up the atmosphere. Talk with vendors and customers, see what’s offered for sale, and evaluate how your own product or service stacks up. The knowledge you take away from just one event will translate into increased sales and traffic if applied properly, so get out there and start making connections!