There are a number of articles that have been written about obvious and essential features that business websites should have.  They include good recommendations like having a recognizable domain name and obvious calls to action.  As part of your design strategy, you should definitely research these articles.   This article will focus on features that are more discreet but are just as critical to having a successful website.

1. Use The Same Colors For Your Logo Throughout Your Website

This is a subtle feature that will reinforce your brand recognition.  If your logo uses the color Salmon (#FA8072
or RGB(250, 128, 114)), try using that color as a header text or as a transparent overlay on images.  A user that sees this color repeatedly on your site will begin to associate that color to your brand.  Ideally it influences a persons thoughts when they are not on your site, where if they see it somewhere else it will trigger a subconscious connection to your brand.

2. Written Information Presented In An Orderly Fashion

You’ve probably seen the masonry style of showing images used on different websites, most noticeably on Pinterest.  This is where blocks of content are staggered at different heights and widths to create a stylish look.  While this creates an interesting design for a media gallery, doing the same thing with written content would lead to confusion.  When it comes to written words, the best design choice is uniformity, top to bottom and left to right.

3. Copyright Notice

Scroll down to the bottom of most websites and you will usually see three things: the © symbol, the company name, and the year the site was published.  These are the mandatory elements of a copyright notice.  If someone were to steal your content and claim it for themselves, a copyright notice may not only deter a thief but will help you win a court case if you had to sue.  It costs nothing to add and provides a solid legal base for protecting your hard work.

4. Mouse Cursor Hover Effects

It’s something that happens so often you don’t think about it when you interact with software, but depending on what a mouse cursor is hovering over, it changes it’s appearance.  People find it so intuitive now that not following established conventions can leave users with a negative impression of your business.  When testing your website, pay attention to the mouse behavior as you hover over text, images, and links.

5. Image Handling

The majority of what makes up your website outside of the text and layout is the image content.  These can include banners, product pictures, and infographics.  Depending on what is the purpose of the image, users will expect different behavior.  If the image is for information or a backdrop then there is no need for specific behavior.  However if the image is of a product that a user can buy, hovering over that image should zoom in for closer inspection.  If the image is an example of something or comes with a caption, then the image should focus at the center of the page with a slightly transparent background covering the remainder of the page (this is called lightboxing).  In addition, make sure that clicking on an image doesn’t navigate away from the current page to the file location of the image.  That click behavior reflects poorly on the professionalism of your website.

Creating your own website can be a difficult job.  There are a lot of nuances in the industry and it can be hard to keep update on changing trends.  Be diligent when researching design strategies and look at how other businesses do their websites.  It can be easy to overlook features, especially when they are hidden right under your nose.