3 Crucial Features for a Successful Online Business

When it comes to creating a website for businesses, there are some very crucial features that you should include. These are things that are important to maintaining your brand, keeping your customers informed and allowing your customers to get to know you or your company on a more personal level.

I’ve outlined 3 of the most crucial features that you or your business should carefully consider when purchasing your next website (or redesigning your current one).

Logo Branding

I believe every business should have a logo. A lot of people that start a small business think that having their own logo is “cool”, but I’m here to challenge that. Having a business logo is a necessity.

If you’re not familiar with branding, let me give you a quick definition:

A brand is a name or trademark connected with a product or producer.

Logos play a key role in branding. Many logos can be made simply out of the name of the company or product (like Coca-Cola or Disney). Others can be an image or symbol (like the Nike Swoosh or Apple’s Apple). Some are simple, some are elaborate. In any case, your logo should be both memorable and complimentary to your identity, tone and service.

Here are a few things to think about when designing a business logo:

  • Think Long-Term – Your logo should be with you for a very long time, so make sure that you are happy with your logo. Do not settle for something that you do not absolutely love. You’ll want to pick something you will like, tomorrow, next year and even on the 10th or 25th anniversary of your business.
  • Think About First Impressions – Your logo will give new customers a first impression about you and your business. Make sure that whatever you pick, it will accurately portray your identity, tone and service.
  • Think About Variations – Your logo may be put on a letterhead or banner. It could be print in color or black and white. Make sure that your logo will look good in any size or color.
  • Think Professional – You might have a friend who has created some okay logos. Or maybe you want to go down to the local copy shop. In any case, make sure that whoever you hire to do your logo has a proven track record. Just ask for their portfolio.

Many web design companies (including OurChurch.Com) offer logo creation as a service. This is an advantage since the logo can simply be integrated straight into your website.

eMailing List

With any business (online or off), it is crucial to communicate with potential or existing customers. In a “brick and mortar” business, address can be collected to send specials and updates. Online, businesses can gather names and email addresses.

Many online businesses offer free gifts (downloadable reports, special offers/discounts, etc.) to customers for giving them their name and email address. Once their name and email is received, they can send out specials, announcements, and offers anytime they want. At OurChurch.Com, we even offer an email template designed to match your site.

The advantage to an email mailing list is that you can send out thousands of emails for free. With t postage prices rising every year, this can definitely save a lot of money!

Online Shopping Cart

Billions of dollars are being made online. The businesses that are making this money range from one-man operations to large corporations. One way to offer your products or services online would be to use an online shopping cart.

An online shopping cart or eCommerce store allows businesses to showcase their offerings online and allows consumers to add several products to a virtual “cart”. Once the customer is ready, he/she clicks a “checkout” button and the entire transaction is made securely online.

With OurChurch.Com’s advance shopping cart, you can even send out Virtual Coupons for customers to use. They can enter in a special coupon code that will give them a special online discount.

Having this type of feature allows you to reach out to a lot more customers that you could if you were simply a “brick and mortar” business. Having online capabilities also cuts down on the amount of time you spend dealing with a customer face to face. Your website does the selling and the only time you have to work would be when a sale is made.

If you’re thinking about creating an online store-front for you business, consider adding these things to your website. Creating your brand, communicating to customers and offering alternative shopping experiences can definitely be a very positive and lucrative decision.

[img by lululemonathletica]

Mike joined OurChurch.com as Web Designer/Developer in September, 2006. Born and raised in Houston, TX, he is now married and has 3 adorable children. In his spare time he enjoys playing piano/keys and singing throughout the local area as well as at church. You may also see him acting in church dramas as well as a local Improv Comedy Troupe!

5 Responses to “3 Crucial Features for a Successful Online Business”

  1. Great post as ever.

    A question about logos as this has been on my mind a lot for two websites I run. What is a logo to you?

    To me they are very much a graphic more than the name. the name is the brand and the logo should be the graphic element that implies or identifies your brand.

    I ask as a lot of folks – allegedly designers – I’ve spoken to of late seem to think that a logo is just put the name into fancy text and doing something to the text.

    Or maybe it’s just me.

  2. Stuart, thanks for your inquiry. A logo can be anything really. As I look around me in my office, I see the Dell logo on my computer. They use their name with the “E” at a diagonal angle. I also see the Windows logo, with their curved, red, blue, yellow and green “window”.

    A logo is really anything that you want your creativity to wander into. It can be an image, a word, a phrase, a letter, etc. It can be as elaborate as a city scape or as simple as a check mark. The sky’s the limit!

    Don’t restrict yourself to thinking that it has to be either an image or your company name. Think out of the box. Good luck with your online endeavors!

  3. Really a good post as always. Am a regular reader of your post. Thanks for sharing this. And also I do agree that branding and shopping cart are the two essential features to be considered significantly. Thanks once again!

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