Now more than ever, the success of small businesses hinges on their online presence. We could even say the success of a business is directly linked to its website functionality and performance. While there are many different ways to gain attention for your small business, the fact remains that a website is crucial in making or breaking your business goals. That’s why it’s essential to stay sharp about current tools and tips for keeping your website performing at optimal levels. This article explores what website plugins are and offers suggestions for the top plugins that boost your website’s efficiency and productivity.
What are Website Plugins?
One of the top ploys small business owners use to improve their websites is utilizing plugins. A plugin is a software add-on embedded in a website to help visitors with an array of different user-friendly features. Many plugins may come standard with a content management system (CMS) such as WordPress or SquareSpace. Other plugins can be downloaded, and their purpose is to enhance the function of a website. In either case, a plugin is ideally meant to enhance the user experience when visiting a small business website. These neat applications come in handy because they are easy to copy and paste into a website, which means no more complicated coding.
In the old days of website building, plugins were more about novelty than function. While these retro plugins offered entertainment value with moving fish, moon phases, or weather forecasts, they didn’t contribute much value to a website’s purpose or mission.
Why and When Should Plugins be Used on a Website?
Today, a plugin is judged on its merit to work seamlessly within a website while giving the user superior ability to access important content. Plugins should also help visitors navigate the website and inform them about essential information pertinent to your business mission, offerings, and purpose.
Resist the urge to embed cutsie or quirky plugins that do nothing but suck up your website’s hosting bandwidth. Plugins should be used exclusively with your business objective and website user in mind. When you’re using plugins, remember your motivation should be all about your client, customer, or the core functionality of your business.
The most integral plugins are used to streamline customer inquiries, drive sales and build a better customer experience on a website. Examples of these helpful plugins include chat features, resources for product information, shopping cart applications, or marketing pop-ups to alert your visitor about current sales campaigns.
Top Plugins to Improve Your Website
As a small business owner, how you build a website is pivotal. There are many factors such as design, speed, and responsiveness across varying devices. The list of considerations may seem endless. Thankfully, choosing the right plugins doesn’t have to be complicated. Here are a few top plugins that can enhance almost every small business website.
Newsletters and Subscriptions
Your small business relies on keeping connected with your customers and clients. Many third-party newsletter management systems offer plugins you can embed in your website that assist you in managing your subscribers once they’ve opted into your newsletter. Furthermore, these plugins from email services such as MailChimp or ConstantContact offer convenient ways for users to sign up for your weekly or monthly mail-outs.
Testimonials and Reviews
No matter your small business, your success is contingent upon customer reviews. Now more than ever, testimonials are essential to providing potential customers reliable feedback about your product or service. Hence, they feel they can make the right choice by purchasing from you. Depending upon your content management system (CMS), you may be able to download a Facebook plugin that publishes customer reviews from your FB page and mirrors the same testimonial on your website. Other plugins are independent bits of software that allow your customers to easily leave reviews directly on your site relating to specific products or services they’ve ordered from your business. Some resources to publish visible customer reviews on your website include Schema, WP Review Pro, or Customer Reviews for WooCommerce.
If your business relies heavily on local commerce, a handy plugin to consider is a map function. These plugins enable GPS capabilities that present a map to your potential customers. If your website visitor allows access, they can see the distance and directions to your physical location. Google Maps or WordPress Store Locator are two among the most popular map plugins.
This is perhaps the heart and soul of any small business website. After all, if your shopping cart plugin is buggy or malfunctioning, you’re ultimately losing a sale. What’s worse, you could damage your business reputation with faulty shopping cart software. Check which shopping cart plugins are best compatible with your CMS. For example, if your content management system operates on WordPress, then the WP shopping cart plugin may be your best, most reliable solution. Suppose you are using third-party e-commerce solutions such as Shopify or a drop-ship service such as Spocket, Printify, or AliExpress. In that case, these companies provide integrative shopping cart applications that may be compatible with your website.
Customer Service Features
Your small business brand, reputation, and livelihood is fueled by stellar customer service. No matter what type of business you run, the competition is brutal on the internet. Very often, companies that win the sale are the ones that provide superior (and fast) customer service. These days, users want instant responses to their questions about products or services purchased online. That’s why a chat plugin such as ZenDesk or Freshdesk allows you to communicate with your customer directly and immediately. While more users want options for chat, this doesn’t rule out traditional email contact forms. Using a simple email plugin such as OptinMonster or Ninja Forms can give your website visitors easy access to customer service via email inquiries.
In conclusion, the power of plugins is virtually endless when it comes to improving your website and establishing a user-friendly experience for your visitors. First, consider which plugins are most important for your small business’s success. Then check if these plugins are compatible with your content management system. Lastly, install and activate your plugins and watch how these neat add-ons can help simplify and enrich your website’s ability to gain and retain business.