Does My Site Really Need This?

It seems intuitive that a feature, or application, should only be added to a website if it stands to benefit the user or the site owner (business owner) in some way. But in many cases, business owners want to add things because they're thought of as new or impressive. The hope, I can only assume, is that the 'new' feature will be interpreted by customers as proof that the company is up to date with the latest and greatest technology, which translates into their own industry. The problem with adding something to your site solely because it's the trend is that it may not serve an actual purpose for your visitors. Moreover, the new feature may end up doing the opposite of what it was intended to do, which was to portray your business as current and knowledgeable. The best example of this is a blog, or a latest news section. Frequently, business owners ask about starting a blog or adding a latest news application to their site so that it adds timeliness to their site. A blog can provide a great service to customers by providing detailed information related to your industry, although if you haven't updated it in four months, that's not exactly telling the visitor that you're on top of things. Additionally, you've probably lost whatever following you once had, since those visitors are now going follow more dedicated bloggers. Similar rules apply to a company Twitter account. There are numerous examples of superfluous add-ons for websites - RSS feeds and visit counters are also frequently misguided requests - and really, anything can be superfluous if it doesn't meet the following criteria:

  • The add-on solves a user's or site owner's problem (or both)
  • The add-on is maintained relatively frequently (if applicable)
  • The add-on flows with the rest of the website's content so as not to obstruct or distract a user from making the intended action

It's only natural to want the latest and greatest technology added to one's site. But before you move forward with adding a new application, make sure you've considered the cost/benefit thoroughly and have considered the level of maintenance it requires.

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