4 Tips on What Features Your Website Should Have

There is a trend I’m noticing in the online hunting industry – hunting businesses that are coming on to the Web are adding too many features to their sites.

Blue and Orange Light on the Water

image credit: kevindooley

I’ve written about the topic of business focus before:

Be Good at One Thing and You’ll Conquer the Hunting World

But I want to expand even more on the topic.

I will even admit that with Hunter Share I had too many features on the site. I desperately needed to pare back on the features and focus on what was really important to the users. I had to define what the purpose of the site was. Even now, the site will initially have too many features.

But this time, as users interact with the site and show the features that actually provide value I’m going to remove features. I also plan on adding features to experiment. If new features work to improve the users’ value on the site I’ll keep them and if not I’ll remove them.

The key is to not get attached to your features.

Get attached to what is actually valuable to your visitors and what is also true to your brand.

Here are 4 tips on how to determine what features your site should have

1) Knowing what to track

One of the things Website owners love to monitor on their site is traffic.

But is traffic really enough?

Say your Website starts out with a forum, news area, blog, video and photo galleries, customer profiles, favorite music area, etc. Is all of this really necessary? Is the traffic generated on these areas of the site really necessary?

So while traffic is a key stat for your site (one that’s easy to explain to outsiders), it’s important to recognize that your users will tell you what features are important on your site.

If users aren’t finding value in a certain feature, drop it and spend your time on improving their experience.

Monitor traffic on certain features. Monitor length of time on certain features. Track comments, votes, emails, etc. that certain features generate.

2) Remembering your brand

It’s always important to determine the one thing your business is going to focus on. This won’t change just because you’re now creating a Web presence.

For example, Hunter Share will be focused on hunting photos. I want it to be the #1 resource for hunting photos on the Web. I want people to think ‘Hunter Share’ when they think of hunting photos. I don’t want to focus on anything else in the hunting industry, it’s not my specialty.

I’ll be tracking each feature on the site to determine if it is adding value to the brand (as well as to the customer, which is most important). If a certain feature like information in profiles, user blogs, etc. aren’t adding value to the Hunter Share (hunting photos) then I’ll remove the feature.

3) Profitability

It’s also important to think about profitability of certain features. While most features are easy to add these days, it may still cost you money up front (fixed cost and potential extra hosting costs: video/photo) to add a new feature.

Don’t let programmers talk you into adding features that will not add value to your customer or your brand. Your programmer may just be recommending it because it’s easy for them to add to your site and because every other hunting site out there has it.

Just because every other site has it doesn’t mean it’s best for you and your bottom line.

Think about the cost and potential return of adding a feature before starting a project.

4) Non-Measurable Benefits

This may contradict my last point, but I think it’s important to remember the non-measurable benefits of adding posts as well.

While you should look at the profitability of adding a feature (monetarily), it’s also important to determine if a feature will add value to your customer’s experience that will indirectly result in added profit for you.

For example, you may decide to add a blog (feature) to your outfitting site. Directly there is no monetary profit from the blog. But indirectly a customer may find your blog via Google and crawl through the rest of your site.

They may eventually give you a call and book a trip.

Make sure you have procedures for tracking this kind of activity. Ask questions when customers contact you.

You can also tell if a feature like a blog is important via the tracking measures I mentioned in the first point.

Summary

Don’t get caught up in the Web euphoria that just because a feature is easy to add, it belongs on your site. In truth, it probably doesn’t belong on your site.

Use your best judgment and put your customer’s benefit and your brand’s benefit as your key determining factor on whether a feature stays or is removed.

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Dayne Shuda

I'm a blogger and hunting enthusiast. Follow me on Twitter.