In this series, we’re discussing website optimization, how it’s different from search engine optimization, and why it’s necessary if you want to increase conversions. Here, we talk about features and functionality. Like optimization, those two terms get thrown around a lot, so let’s define them for our purposes here
Features are the components of your website and include basic information pages, as well as what we’ll call “special features” like online appointment booking, mortgage calculators, or advanced search capabilities. Functionality is what’s behind the scenes that gives users the ability to view the site in different sizes, or complete a task.
Special features help to enhance the user experience and provide visitors with options to interact with your site. These are things like a mortgage calculator, how-to videos, or in-depth resource articles. They are intended to keep users engaged as they are led down the path to conversion. Your type of business, website goals, and target market all need to be considered when determining the type and details of features to include on your site.
Optimizing for user objectives. Think about the reasons why a visitor is coming to your site. What do they want to know? Have you addressed all of the common decision-making factors for your audience? Is that information easy to find? If they make a decision to buy or book with you, do they have all of the information they need to take the next step? How easy have you made it?
Here’s one example. One of the common issues with clothing sites is getting the right size. Sizing charts are often a small .pdf of measurements, and no one knows what their measurements are. A few sites have a feature where you can enter the size that fits you from a well-known brand, and they tell you what size to order from them. That’s a quick and easy solution for the user that is going to keep them moving forward toward a buy (and avoids numerous returns).
Features are about catering to your customers’ needs.
Optimizing frequently-used tasks. Amazon does a particularly good job of making it easy to check the status of an order or to re-order something you purchased previously. Repeat customers are the greatest boost to your bottom like, so making sure that you provide features that support your loyal following is a key component of optimizing your website.
Optimizing calls to action. Checking-out or other calls to action should be the easiest features to use. Every call to action should be accompanied by the means to take that action. If you say, “Request a Quote”, that should link or be followed by the form – a short form that can be submitted online.
Optimizing functionality. There is always something beyond “making it work.” Reducing the check-out process by two steps, or providing a direct link for re-ordering, can and will increase sales. Again, the specific tactics will depend on your business and your customers, but this is one time that you need to think about fixing it, even if it isn’t broken.
The association to search results. The goal is more sales. The plan is a slick and useful website. The bonus is, that a great site gets noticed by search engines and rewards excellence with high ranking.
Summing up, features are what users see, and functionality is how your site works. Both need to be well above average to keep the profits rolling in.
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