10+ Must-Have Website Features for 2023
Not having a website today is like not being listed in the phonebook in the ‘90s. Websites are how potential customers find out more about your products and services. Your site can even be a major sales channel using e-commerce.
In 2023, e-commerce sales are expected to account for 20.8% of retail sales worldwide as online shopping continues to grow each year. For every $100 customers spend on retail, they spend nearly $21 online. Even if you primarily sell products in retail stores or on social media, you still need a website with the right features.
Your business's website is a centralized hub for easy-to-find information, customer service, and a place to buy your goods and services. Optimizing your website for SEO can even bring in leads.
If you're thinking of building a website for your business or want to update your existing one, make sure it has these features to stand out:
- Easy navigation
- Intuitive design and user experience
- Value propositions
- About us
- Existing and past client lists
- Creative ways to display authoritative website content
- Strong, clear calls to action (CTAs)
- Immersive visual experience
- Mobile friendliness
- Dark mode
Think about the different reasons someone would go to the website and make sure their journey is simple, whether getting more information about a product or reaching customer service.
Creating a website that is user-friendly starts with straightforward navigation. When customers land on your website, they typically start with the menu to find what they're looking for.
Here are some examples of popular website menu designs:
Standard header menu:
Most websites have the menu displayed horizontally on the top of the page. When users click on one of the menu items, it takes them to the related content. A standard website header menu includes:
Avoid the problem of users getting lost by incorporating a floating navigation menu bar, also known as a sticky menu. These navigation bars stay fixed at the top of the page. When the user scrolls down, the menu is always at the top of the screen. They can go back to the home page or click on a different menu option any time without having to scroll back up.
A good portion of your website traffic may come from smartphones. Your website must be just as easy to use on mobile as on a regular computer. Hamburger menus are a popular feature of mobile-optimized websites.
Website real estate is a premium, especially on a smaller device, and the hamburger menu can save space. Hamburger menus have three horizontal lines or dots stacked vertically and tucked away in the corner of your web page or app. This is a universally recognizable way to hide your expandable menu or settings. Most users know to click here to find the full menu bar.
Another option that’s popular for mobile-friendly websites is vertical sidebars. Fixed menus that run across the side of the screen vertically can help users quickly navigate around your website on their phones. This is especially helpful if you have a content-heavy website where a user may get lost or confused.
The header is the first experience the customer has with your website. It should include the most sought-after and important information. Whatever doesn't make it to the main navigation, you can move to the footer. The footer navigation is the space for putting sitemaps, resources, and other helpful links.
Intuitive design and user experience
When creating or updating a website, think about the end user and what problem of theirs you're solving with your product or service. One of the most crucial website functionalities is user experience. You want your website to drive action, create a positive emotional response, and be useful.
Websites need to be easy to use and have an intuitive design. You'll likely lose sales to a competitor if your website causes frustration, with hard-to-find content or a complicated checkout process. People are busy and often multi-task; your website needs to quickly give them the information they want.
Content needs to have a natural flow and be intuitive. If a customer goes to your website to reach customer service, think about the actions you want them to take. You can first solve quick questions with a FAQ page and include contact information at the bottom if they still need help. What action do you want them to take afterward? You could direct them to your blog or a helpful product tips article.
The user experience honeycomb
Peter Morville created the user experience honeycomb to show the facets of user experience.
When creating a website with great user experience features, you can keep these facets in mind by asking the following questions. Is it:
- Useful. Does it help the user? The website should help solve a problem and get the user to their end goal.
- Usable. Is it easy to use? Design should flow naturally, feel familiar, and take the user from one action to the next without much thought.
- Desirable. How visually appealing is the site? When creating a website, appearance is just as important as functionality.
- Findable. Can users find the website? Make sure the website has good SEO and the content is easy to discover.
- Accessible. Can everybody use your website, including those with disabilities? Check that it looks as good on mobile as on laptops and in all browsers and includes features designed to add a better experience for those with disabilities.
- Credible. Does your website feel secure and legitimate? Customers need to know their personal information is safe and the website information is accurate.
- Valuable. Does your website serve its purpose? The user should get more out of the website than the time and effort spent navigating it. Having a great user experience can improve customer service and help increase sales, leads, and other company goals.
An easy-to-use website intentionally designed with the end user in mind helps create a positive experience for your audience. Keeping these facets in mind as you choose what website features to include helps make sure your website is as user-friendly as possible.
Whitespace and background
You can choose where your user's eyes naturally go on the webpage and add focal points using whitespace. A website's blank and empty spaces are called whitespace or negative space. This approach is popular in minimalist designs and can help a website look modern and avoid unnecessary content clutter.
Whitespace can help separate pieces of content, making navigation easier. Typically the wider the whitespace between two elements, the less connected they are. Draw your visitor's eyes to your CTA button or lead generation form with strategic whitespace elements.
Whitespace doesn't always have to be white. You can use any background or color blocks as whitespace. Negative space makes content easier to read and shows the user what the focal points for the page are. It's a great tool when used correctly and can solidify your branding.
Consistent colors and relevant photography
Branding is a fundamental website feature to consider. The entire website should be consistent with your existing branding, from the tone in the copy to the colors used in the graphics. When a customer sees your product in person or on social media and then goes to your website, the experience should feel the same.
Create a visual brand style guide and make sure that every page and new piece of content adheres to it.
What to include:
- Color palette
- Logo guidelines
- Brand values and mission statement
- Copy tone and voice
The pictures you add to your website should feel the same as the product packaging and social media visuals. Do you primarily want lifestyle images or animated graphics? Make sure all the photographs you use are relevant to your products and services. Avoid using obvious stock photographs.
One in four visitors would actually leave a website if it took longer than four seconds. When optimizing your website speed, try to keep each page load under three seconds, ideally two or fewer. You can use Pagespeed Insights to test your website’s page loading speeds.
If you have a graphics-heavy website with lots of videos that takes a while to load, a page-loading animation can help. You can use this fun website feature to keep your users entertained while the content loads on your website. Page-loading graphics engage users and encourage patience. Animation can help them feel like something is happening while they’re waiting and let them know the page isn't frozen.
You can use a page-loading icon for times when the website is loading slowly and will take extra time. Depending on where you built your website, it could be a simple drag-and-drop option, or you may need to work it into your website's coding.
Make every word count on your website. One of the key website features is descriptive content. You want to create an engaging website, and that begins with the content. The right content can help improve engagement metrics like
- Low session duration. Users land on your site but don't stay very long
- Pageviews. How many pages a user goes to during their session
- Bounce rates. Users quickly leave without taking any action
- Conversions. Users taking action like adding a product to the cart or filling out a form
While you want your website content to be useful and engaging for your audience, you also want it to have the highest SEO ranking possible. Part of the SEO ranking is user engagement, whether your audience finds the content helpful by reading all the content or clicking on other website areas. You can improve this engagement by breaking up the copy with the headers and choosing different sizes and even colors to draw attention to what matters most. You can help drive action with copy that sells your products and services.
The other part of SEO is how the search engine reads and then ranks your website. You can make sure your website pages are optimized for search engine crawling by paying attention to:
- Image Alt Text
- Meta Descriptions
Find SEO experts on Upwork that know how to create engaging copy that is also optimized for SEO.
Having accessible website features ensures that everyone can use your website. You could add small elements that make the site easier for those with disabilities and impairments. Adding these accessibility features demonstrates company values of inclusion and diversity and makes sure that you're not excluding anyone from using your site.
Use these free online tools to check how accessible your website is :
Accessible website features to consider:
Avoid contrasting colors. Avoid putting colors next to each other that may be difficult for some to differentiate.
Choose easy fonts. Stay away from fonts that are hard to read. Allow for text enlargement.
Use alt text. Accurately describe images by adding alt text in your website builder, so those with visual impairments get the full experience.
Allow keyboard navigation. Make sure your website is navigable using only the keyboard for those with motor disabilities.
Add captions and transcriptions. Overlay captions and transcriptions for any audio or video aspects of your website for people with hearing impairment.
Write link descriptions. Make links easier to read by screen readers by adding helpful descriptions.
An essential part of branding is your value propositions. Why should your customers choose you over your competitors? If two products or services are identical, the deciding factor for a customer is the marketing and branding. Your value propositions set you apart from your competitors and drive your marketing and brand campaigns. A value proposition can be narrowed down to a statement that is the core of your brand and your promise to your customers and displayed on your website, either on the homepage, header, footer, or About Us page.
Use these examples as inspiration for creating your own value proposition if you don’t have one yet:
Upwork’s value proposition is “The world’s work marketplace where every day businesses of all sizes and independent talent from around the globe meet here to accomplish great things.” This value proposition explains what the company does (work marketplace), who it’s for (businesses of all sizes and independent talent), and why they come here (to accomplish incredible things).
Patagonia’s value proposition is “We’re in business to save our home planet.” This statement shows what sets Patagonia apart from its competitors–being a sustainable and socially responsible brand committed to environmentalism and activism. Customers choose Patagonia because they feel better about their purchases, knowing they are more responsibly made than other outdoor gear brands.
Slack’s value proposition is “Make work simpler, more pleasant and more productive.” Its value proposition is compelling; after all, what business or organization doesn’t want work life to be simpler, more pleasant, and more productive? The value proposition telling the users why they need the product and how it will improve their work lives is very effective.
Canva’s value proposition is “Canva makes it easy to create professional designs and to share or print them.” The value proposition points out why someone would use Canva: to easily create professional designs. Canva promises to be user-friendly (easy, so you can use it even if you’re not a graphic designer) and high quality (creating professional designs) and then adds the “why” (to share or print).
IKEA's value proposition is "Furniture and inspiration for a better everyday life at home." This value proposition explains what they sell (furniture and inspiration) and why someone would need it (for a better everyday life at home–who doesn't want that?). Adding "and inspiration" to what they sell widens their offerings and is intriguing. Even if you don't need furniture, you can go to Ikea for inspiration (like their Swedish meatballs).
What are your core beliefs as a brand? Your mission and values flow into your products, services, and company culture. Consumers are becoming more socially conscious and demanding more of the brands they choose. Corporate social responsibility is important; many websites now include sections dedicated to explaining how a company is giving back whether through committing to sustainable practices or partnering with local charities.
Include an about us page where customers can learn about the company's founding, history, and mission statement. Customers should get a strong sense of who you are as a brand, how you operate, and what you believe in. They are more likely to purchase from brands that have values aligning with their own. You can help humanize your company and give it personality by telling the story of its founding and how the company has evolved since then.
Existing and past client list
Client lists are a way to demonstrate expertise and build trust with consumers. In a PwC study, 70% of consumers surveyed saw trust as the most important factor when buying from a brand. If another company or potential customer hasn't heard of you before but trusts the brands you've worked with, it can help them feel more confident about choosing you.
Your client list can help build your reputation and give instant credibility and authority. If you've worked with well-known brands before, add your client list as a website feature. You could show their logos, case studies, or even testimonials with your clients’ permission.
Creative ways to display authoritative website content
Figure out what topics, keywords, and search terms you want your website to rank highest for, and then create useful content. When someone types in a search query, Google's goal is to provide them with the most relevant and reliable sources. Creating SEO (search engine optimized) content can help your website rank higher for relevant keywords and search terms.
If you want to rank high for specific keywords, you need to create authoritative website content. This type of content dives deep into the topic, demonstrating expertise. Ideally, you create content that other sites use as a source; then you have other websites linking back to yours.
Find the topics related to your products, services, and industries and create high-quality evergreen content. Avoid fluff pieces and filler SEO blogs. You want to create content that dives deep and matters. When content is SEO optimized and stays relevant for an extended period, it's called evergreen. This type of content ranks well and shows your expertise on a subject.
When creating content, keep these different website features in mind:
Typography is how the text appears on your website. The font, spacing, styling, and sizing are the typography. A core part of your brand includes the typeface and fonts you use. Typography also has a significant effect on readability and the overall user experience.
The wrong fonts in the wrong size can make a website difficult to navigate and read on mobile devices. When you choose a font and start adding copy to your website, be strategic and maximize the user experience both visually and functionally.
- Use standard fonts. Sans-serif fonts like Ariel and Tahoma are non-distracting and easier to read at different sizes and across most devices.
- Set minimum font size. Avoid small unreadable text by setting the minimum font size on your website to 16px.
- Pay attention to line length. Keep your text line length ideally between 45 and 75 characters to avoid reader fatigue and improve readability.
- Shorten sentences. Be concise. Avoid long and run-on sentences for reader comprehension.
- Space out text. Add space between paragraphs and text for easier reading. A good rule of thumb is to keep spacing 1.5x the font size.
- Use bullets. Break up blocks of text with bullet points.
When adding copy to your website, make sure you create the proper text hierarchy to make it easier for users to read and Google to scan. Big blocks of paragraphs are hard to read; using headings makes them more organized and quicker to comprehend.
- H1: The title
- H2: The main points
- H3-H6: Subheaders to add structure
Blogs are a must-have website feature to help with SEO and creating authoritative website content. Engage your audience by starting a blog and keeping it updated with relevant articles. Your blog could be a combination of how-tos, SEO topics, industry trends, case studies and customer success stories, and behind-the-scenes information about your company.
When adding content to your blog, make sure that's is actually relevant and valuable to your readers. Blog about similar topics and start interlinking articles to keep users on your site. Blogging is a great way to demonstrate expertise and work on becoming a go-to resource.
You can add in a few CTAs and promote your brand within the blog, but overall your articles should be purposeful and helpful to your readers. As you create more content and boost your SEO, you may start getting organic traffic and leads from people finding your articles during their searches online. Don’t forget to promote your blogs on social media channels.
If you don't have the time to write your own blogs, you can find skilled blog writers on Upwork. Choose fixed-price blogs in Project CatalogTM that fit your blogging needs.
Grids and galleries
Information displayed visually is often quicker and easier to understand. How you arrange your images matters. Use grids and galleries to feature your website pictures dynamically. Adding whitespace and choosing the right visual display for your photos can improve the user experience.
Depending on what platform you built your website on, adding grids and galleries for images may be a simple drag-and-drop option, or you may need help coding this website feature.
Example of an image grid from Wild One:
Example of an image gallery from Grove Collaborative
Webinars are a great way to connect with your customers one on one. Instead of having an in-person event, you can host a free webinar, whether you want to do product demonstrations, launches, or training. You can engage and educate your audience with live or prerecorded videos.
When planning to host a webinar, you have a few different options. You could use a hosting software like Zoom or Webex and send your attendees links to your meeting, or you can embed the webinar software directly into your website. Whether or not you can host a webinar from your website depends on how you or a developer built the website and the platform you use.
Adding a webinar as a website feature encourages attendees to check out your website before the webinar starts and stay on your page after it ends. If you record your webinars and they would be helpful for non-attendees, you could add a webinar section as a website feature and include the recorded sessions.
Product support articles and videos
Product support articles and videos are a must-have for your website features list. When a customer needs help with your product, you want to be the top resource. You don't want them having to go to another website to get help. Articles and videos can also help with audience engagement and drive organic traffic; what starts off as entertainment can turn into a potential lead.
Creating a section for product support articles and videos can also improve customer service. Being helpful and showing that you care about your customers post-purchase enhances customer loyalty and creates a positive brand image.
Instead of emailing or calling customer service, they can troubleshoot and get help with common questions using your support content. Many customers prefer using a self-serve tool and resource for customer support, which saves your team time.
Types of support content to create:
- Frequently asked questions (FAQ)
- How-to videos and articles
- Product demos
- Tips and tricks
- Best practices
Strong, clear calls to action
Having a strong and clear call to action is how you tell users what to do next. When they're on your page, do you want them to fill out a lead form, purchase a product, call your business, or subscribe to your newsletter? What should the user do? This is your CTA.
CTAs are typically buttons that take the user directly to the lead form, product page, or newsletter sign-up. Letting the user know exactly what action you want them to take minimizes confusion and increases conversions. Each content page should have a clear CTA because you want to keep users on your website.
Be strategic when using CTAs. You don't want too many CTAs on one page; they can become overwhelming and feel too "sales-y." CTAs can also help you track conversions and see what’s working and what isn't on your website. Get inspired with these effective call-to-action examples.
Immersive visual experience–videos and images
Create an immersive visual experience for your users that captivates and engages, making them want to stay on your site. Images and video are more engaging than plain text and are a must-have website feature. People are busy, and the internet is fast-paced. You may have only a few seconds to grab their attention when they land on your website. Many people quickly scan a site before reading the content in more depth.
Tell a story using visuals and show rather than tell consumers why they need your product or service. Videos and images should complement your website without taking over. A short video clip or interactive infographic can take the place of a lengthy paragraph.
Common examples of things you can do to grab your audience's attention include:
Large responsive hero images
Hero images are the first visuals users see when they visit your website. Typically this image spans the full width of the web page and has short text (e.g., slogan or tagline) and a clear CTA. The image needs to be big enough on all devices and pique the interest of your users.
Hero images should be responsive and automatically adjust dimensions to look right on all devices. You want your hero image to be as crisp on a mobile device as on a laptop. Make sure your image is responsive by having a high enough resolution and testing it on different devices.
Depending on your web layout, you can add a background video to your homepage or landing page. You could use a video of your product or service or a unique aesthetic video that fits your branding. Ideally, this video loads quickly and isn't too distracting from other content on the page.
The goal is to grab their attention, so they want to stay on your website. Background videos typically play on a loop and have no sound. If you're adding a text overlay to the video, pay attention to the color contrast so the text is easy to read.
High-definition, high-quality product images
Make sure you have high-definition, high-quality product images on your website. Instead of describing how your products work and what they look like, use branded images instead. What would take paragraphs of copy can be easily conveyed with the right pictures. Tell a story using images and create a great visual user experience.
Images can create emotional appeal and often are more memorable than text. You can also increase the amount of shareable content using images and improve SEO. Adding alt text to your product images can help with searchability. Incorporating different types of content for your website gives more ways for your audience to find you.
More than half of website traffic globally is from mobile devices. Especially if you're promoting your website and products on social media, you may have many mobile visitors. A crucial website feature is mobile-friendliness.
According to Think With Google, 79 percent of people say they're more likely to revisit or share a mobile site if it’s easy to use. When websites aren’t easily navigable, or the checkout process is complicated, you may have higher bounce rates and missed sales.
Adding an FAQ section as a feature on your website can help drive traffic from consumers typing specific questions about your product or service into Google. The FAQ responses also improve the user experience. Instead of having to email, call, or chat with customer support, they can get the answers they need quickly, which saves time for both your customers and your team.
Create a home for all of the frequently asked questions that customers have. These FAQs should have long-tail keywords (queries), so your audience can find exactly what they're looking for. You can give short answers to questions and then keep users on the page by linking to your blog posts with more in-depth information.
A trending website feature that’s here to stay is a dark mode UI (user interface). Instead of having traditional black text on white backgrounds, websites and mobile apps allow users to choose a darker color palette through dark mode. Many users find websites in dark mode to be more modern and aesthetically pleasing.
Benefits of dark mode include:
- Produces less blue light. Blue light can keep users up at night and negatively affect sleep.
- Reduces eye strain. Darker web pages typically are easier on the eyes.
- More engaging. You can strategically use pops of color to draw attention.
- Lower energy consumption. Darker screens need fewer lights, which conserves energy at home and increases device battery life.
Web design is constantly evolving
Websites are the digital home for your business. On the front end (what your customers see), your website should promote your brand and be visually appealing, with the right features. When you dive deeper, your back-end structure and design need to be optimized so your site shows up in search results and your potential customers can find you. Find a UX designer that can bring your website vision to life. Together you can create a standout website that engages your audience and drives sales.