No longer an optional extra, the ecosystem of modern business is one where an online presence is a must. With so many people turning to the internet as a primary source of information, taking the time to create a professional online appearance is key. This applies no matter the age of the business or the sector in which it operates. Utilising every advantage possible is pivotal in getting an edge over the competition. 

While this much has been true for years, too often we underestimate how much evolution has taken place within the website design environment. To participate means to keep up to date, in whatever components are important and relevant to your business. Taking a look at some of the avenues new innovations take, we want to examine what can’t be overlooked for those who want to stay current and competitive. 

Website Design Tools 

Arguably the most important development for modern businesses in the online space comes from the growing website design market. Traditionally, there have been only two options on this front, with each having its own caveat. The first of these, creating your own website with older and more limited development tools could leave your website appearing unprofessional. The other route, of hiring a professional designer, could incur significant upfront and ongoing costs. 

In the modern arena, working to create a website yourself with professional-level tools isn’t just easier, it’s also far more comprehensive than ever before. Here, a wide range of templates can give users a strong starting position, and the ability to add modules like blogs and online stores is streamlined. Perhaps most crucially, modern website creating services let businesses easily edit how the page looks on a mobile, a must-have given how many users have adopted phones as their primary internet device. 

In fact, according to recent statistics, around 56 percent of all internet traffic comes from mobile phones. This should illustrate just how important mobile integration is, and why it shouldn’t be overlooked as secondary. Fortunately, this is an area where the recent move to HTML5 has significantly lowered barriers to entry. 

Complete Social Media Integration 

Another instance of a former optional component becoming an eventual necessity, social media business integration is more important now than ever before. Getting ahead here means understanding several levels, and applying each of them in a way to capitalise on everything these different realms have to offer. 

For a start, this means implementing as wide of a net of social media services for a business as are relevant. Facebook should be a starting position here, as other systems could be indispensable or largely impractical depending on your use case. For an example of this, consider Instagram. With such an emphasis on visual media, Instagram would be a perfect fit for a business like an upholsterer or mechanic. In these situations, a time-lapse or before and after pictures could be extremely useful. For something like a lawyer, these components would largely prove unnecessary. 

After choosing and developing the relevant pages on social media systems, the next step is to ensure they’re all easily accessible and linked properly to and from each other. This means placing links in obvious and easily findable locations, as well as maintaining a cohesive design across all social media pages. You always want customers to know exactly which business they’re browsing, and any confusion in this regard can be a killer. 

User Participation 

Relating to both social media integration and the tenets of webpage design is the importance placed on user participation. Though your direct messaging needs the centre stage, the age of communication has also meant that showing off the strength of your business-customer relationships is paramount. 

In a social media sense, this could mean openly featuring stories of how you helped clients, with their permission. In the age of online parasocial relationships, this can aid in humanising a company, to help it stand out from the pack. On a webpage, a more commonly adopted form of user participation could be found in offering surveys that give small discounts to customers. These customers can point out areas that you might have missed, which is something that will inevitably occur to even the biggest and most developed websites. 

Social media apps

Credit: Jason A. Howie, Creative Commons

Though implementing the above systems will take time and effort, this is a process that becomes significantly easier with time. Each point of failure or frustration is an opportunity to learn, to expand your service, and grow accustomed to the market in the future. It might be tempting to procrastinate with these systems, but this could be a dangerous idea. Make no mistake, eventually, implementing each of these steps is going to be a functional necessity for all online businesses, it’s only a matter of making the change now or catching up in the future. Just remember that these are ongoing processes that should be constantly revisited, and you’ll be better set for the decade to come.