By Kelly Meeneghan, Manager at 1&1 Internet, Inc. (www.1and1.com)
This article was first posted on websitemagazine.com.
It did not take long for consumers to develop a reliance on mobile apps to help manage daily responsibilities and engagements. The convenience and productive nature of these tools are the reasons why apps have been so widely adopted in both consumer and business environments. Understanding this demand, Web hosting providers have applied the concept to their online solutions. Now businesses can implement the same convenience, synchronization and simple implementation of mobile apps directly into their professional websites.
As consumer expectations are consistently evolving, businesses are expected to cater to the changes, especially online. Once considered a simple “online business card,” businesses are now required to involve more interaction and ease via their websites offering a more interactive experience for visitors. Many owners prefer to maintain full control over the creation and management of their site and do-it-yourself (DIY) website design packages have become the ideal solution. Bringing the two together, some Web hosts have adapted their DIY solutions to offer a variety of Web applications. Though the principle is similar to mobile apps, Web apps allow integration of big brands directly into one central location – the website. Fitting the industry and individual needs, business owners can now position themselves as a larger player in the market by creating a more impressive reputation.
Assuming you have existing accounts with the companies, incorporating Web applications into your site can be easily accomplished for both traditional business as well as vertical business initiatives. For example, many businesses use the photo-sharing platform, Flickr to illustrate past events, completed work and products – a great method to visually showcase expertise and skills. If this is the case, an attractive presentation of these images can be created with the Flickr Photostream Web app directly within your homepage. Additionally, those that require much paperwork like a doctor or law office, can leverage the Scribd Documents Web app. This allows the owner to upload important material and make it readily accessible for those that may require it saving time for both the owner and client.
Consumers evaluate businesses not just on performance before committing, but also availability and transparency. While establishing a professional website is a good start, Americans are now expecting businesses to take it a step further. To improve communication with clients, offer Skype capabilities. The enhanced convenience will show your desire to help using another avenue for communication. Additionally, if you actively leverage social media networks, like Facebook or Google+, for business purposes integrate feeds and “Like” buttons. Increasing the opportunity for customers to contact and interact will also encourage trust.
Furthermore, there is an expansive list of options for businesses that require more specialized or niche features, like restaurants and online retailers. Restaurants often leverage third party websites like OpenTable and Yelp Reviews to help encourage great efficiency and reputations on the Internet. Integrating these elements directly within the website will deliver transparency and all the needs of a consumer to one website – a level of convenience craved by many who enjoy dining out. Taking it a step further, business owners who sell online often leverage multiple big online retailers like Amazon and eBay to help increase visibility and drive profits. Unfortunately, these eCommerce platforms often direct visitors away from the businesses’ professional website and onto their own. In a world where visitor retention is a key ingredient to boosting traffic and search engine optimization, Web apps can help businesses achieve these goals.
By centralizing all external, online accounts into one location, Web apps have become a valuable asset for both businesses and their clients. Similar to mobile apps, businesses apply these Web apps to help generate profits and build accessibility. This new level of convenience is what the public has been craving from small businesses but has not yet had the opportunity to experience. Now businesses have the ability to position themselves on the same level as larger competitors while maintaining and presenting its small business charm.