Types of Web Site Features
As web platforms and software grow at exponential rates, site owners are faced with a plethora of potential features. So, what is out there?
Web site features are limited only by imagination. Here is a brief categorization of some of the major fields of web site features, including stores, auctions, forums, articles, directories, news, and entertainment.
Online stores can be used to sell products on web sites and also easily interact as a point of sale service.
Catalog type ecommerce sites provide listings of categorized products that can be purchased for a fixed amount. Usually a shopping cart is employed which allows visitors to select multiple items for purchase.
Auctions like EBay allow visitors to bid on items, whereas the highest bidder wins. These auctions have a time limit and also sometimes have a buy now button. A buy now button is a button that allows a bidder to end the auction and guarantee purchase by paying a set fixed price.
Forums are message boards that allow your visitors to post messages on your web site and interact with other visitors. An advantage of forums is that can they can bring visitors back to your site time and time again to post and follow conversations. If done correctly, forums can also provide large amounts of content for search engines to spider. The down side of forums is that they can make your site look bad if no one is using them, and it can be tricky to get people to use them. Also, it is wise to have forums moderated so that people play nice and don’t trash talk your own site.
Articles are a concise way to convey information and provide a reason for web surfers to come to your site. In addition to providing a valuable resource to your web visitors, articles also provide content for search engine bots to spider. Adding articles to a site is essential in many SEO strategies.
Directories categorize other web sites, businesses or just about anything. Some directories are huge, like Yahoo!, while others may be very small and specific only to a small target audience. Smaller directories can often be quite useful to web visitors, particularly if the directory includes editor reviews, ratings and/or recommendations.
News sites generally have articles on current events. They are generally updated often and have search functions by which archives can be retrieved. An advantage of a news site is that often audiences return daily. A disadvantage is the need to constantly update the site.
Video – Video can be delivered over the Internet in a variety of ways. Some of the most popular methods are Flash, Windows Media Player, and Quick Time, though there are many others. Short clips are generally broadcast over the Internet due to bandwidth restrictions, yet as broadband penetration continues to increase more and more sites are broadcasting full-length shows and movies.
Music – Like video, music can be broadcast in a variety of forms. Many band sites are now allowing downloads of their songs in MP3 format or samples. This can be a huge promotional tool.
Games – The Internet has provided gamers a huge variety of options. Games can cost any where from free, to pay as you go, to a one time payment to subscription fees. Game sites often have loyal followings that come back time and time again, making the audience prime for advertising.
E-Print – Stories, blogs and articles are all ways people use web sites to share their ideas with written word. Many sites provide downloads of printable posters, petitions or coupons, blurring the line between print and Internet.
Many sites will utilize many of these different web site features to create powerful and complete media experiences. Many businesses have yet to fully explore the possibilities of their web sites and the Internet. As television, print and radio collide, the Internet’s role in business, information and entertainment will only increase. By using different types of web site features, many web sites will gain huge advantages over their competition.