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11 Must-Have Features For A Competitive Business Website

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From the growth in mobile access to the rise of AI-driven customer outreach, business websites are evolving at a rapid pace. Leading-edge corporate websites now boast dozens of features that allow consumers to engage with brands in new and exciting ways, including optimization for mobile devices, interactive product demonstrations, 24/7 customer service and more. 

In today’s digital-first economy, having a website that both advertises your business and provides a seamless customer experience is not a luxury—it’s table stakes for survival. Below, 11 Forbes Technology Council members share the essential features your business website must include to keep up in the digital marketplace.

1. Omnichannel Capabilities

Although some work has been done, business websites need to demonstrate seamless omnichannel capabilities to stand out among the competition when it comes to the client experience. Omnichannel capabilities have become even more important with the rapid adoption of and reliance on digital channels during the pandemic. – Soumya Ghosh, Capgemini

2. Conversational Assistants

Conversational assistants will be the new norm to help businesses connect with website visitors in real time and create a delightful online buying experience. The basic rule-based chatbots have already shown us the value of instant gratification. With conversational AI bots, businesses will drive engagement, conversion and loyalty through real-time dialogue, content targeting and contextual assistance. – Meeta Dash,

3. A Frictionless Customer Experience

As more consumers move online—and plan to stay there even after the pandemic—invest in creating the most seamless digital experience possible. Use AI to eliminate friction across the online journey, identify and fix CX issues in real time, and gather data on who your customer is and what they want from the digital experience. This will inspire customer confidence and ultimately drive more revenue. – Gregg Johnson, Invoca

4. Personalization

Businesses must address continuous behavior transformation and personalization, be it in the creative handling of negative paths, implementing artificial design intelligence techniques or more intelligent chatbots. It is vital to shift from static content or A/B testing to a more one-on-one experience. This all should be seamless; heavy dependence on it can lead to the opposite effect. – Diana Xhumari, Tegeria

5. Natural Language Insights

Websites and mobile apps now need AI and natural-language-driven insights platforms that enable business users and analytics teams to quickly understand the reasons and key drivers for user/business behaviors. – Mark Schlesinger, Broadridge Financial Solutions

6. Identity Verification Solutions

With the increase in online fraud and constant data breaches, we’ll see businesses coming up with novel ways to keep the online experience safe. We are already seeing innovative identity-proofing solutions being integrated during user onboarding. I foresee this becoming more and more prevalent as identity verification solutions become more and more frictionless. – Labhesh PatelJumio Corp.

7. Transparency Around Data Collection And Usage

Websites should offer transparency and clarity into what information they collect and track specific to individual users and to what extent they directly or indirectly sell that data to third parties or advertisers. For subscription-based websites, notification of account access whenever a login is attempted is very helpful to identify users with compromised accounts. – Raymond Hicks5thColumn Inc.

8. Diversity-Focused Design

Design for diversity should be top of mind when it comes to websites. Use your website’s design to engage consumers irrespective of their gender, age, disability or ethnicity. Section-504 compliance should be incorporated to enable ease of use for disabled people. Research has shown that “men systemize and women empathize”—hence, design for customer personas when choosing graphics, fonts and colors. – Swathi YoungIntegrity Management Systems Inc.

9. Accessibility

Accessibility continues to be an area that is unaccounted for during initial development and often not prioritized when updates are made. Besides avoiding potential litigation, accessibility enhancements generally help all users by making it easier to navigate websites and take advantage of auto-fill features. Enhancements should ensure that the content is well tagged for screen readers—which helps with SEO as well. – Luke Wallace, Bottle Rocket

10. Intuitive Navigation

Businesses tend to focus on making websites look pretty. Instead, the primary design and focus of the website should be the customer. Navigation features should be clear, and information should focus on what the customer wants and needs to know about your product and business to enable an informed buying decision. It’s equally important to adapt your content to what your customer already knows. – Robert Weissgraeber, AX Semantics

11. Messaging Regarding New Opportunities

Most companies forget to articulate to their audience what they are offering and how that offering creates access to new opportunities, education and people. The core design of the technology solution needs to focus on enabling economic access to opportunities and serving the audience. – Chaitra Vedullapalli, Women in Cloud

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