5 Steps to a More Engaging Website

The internet has become a very interactive environment for users. Websites need to be specifically built in a way that captures the attention of visitors and keeps them coming back, or they will quickly leave to go somewhere else. Here are 5 steps to creating a website that will effectively engage your visitors.

1. Avoid Clutter

By keeping your design free of clutter, you will make it easier for visitors to know what is most important, and there will be nothing else to distract them. Clutter can be excessive advertisements, images that don’t add anything to the page, text that is crammed in with very little white space, or anything else that unnecessarily causes a distraction for visitors.

Without clutter, what’s left is the real content of the page that is worthy of the visitors’ attention. When pages are cluttered, visitors can go in any number of directions and there is no way to know that they will be focused on the most important parts of your pages. In order to engage visitors you must be able to have better control of their attention.

I’m not a huge fan of long sales pages, but this is something that they do very well. A good sales page will have nothing on the page that does not contribute to helping with the sale. Typically there aren’t even links to any other pages. Of course, this is an extreme example, but it shows how removing unnecessary options can keep the attention on what’s most important.

2. Provide Focused Content

Now that the clutter is gone and the visitors’ attention is completely on the primary content of the page, that content has to be worthy of their attention. By creating quality, interesting content that is focused you will be more effective at keeping their attention.

In order to engage visitors and to get them involved in the ways that you desire, the content should be focused on communicating the message that you want visitors to receive. Blogs accomplish this by continually publishing information that focuses on one, or a few, key topic.

3. Give Visitors a Way to Get Involved

Truly engaging visitors is much easier when they can get involved. Today’s internet users are much more interested in participating in some way as opposed to simply reading a page. They may be interested in leaving comments and feedback, participating in a poll or quiz, playing a game, communicating on a forum, or even just by watching a video.

When visitors are involved in one way or another, they will typically develop more of a connection to the website. It is more and more common for visitors to want to be involved and feel like they are a part of something. By providing easy ways for visitors to get involved you are giving them an opportunity to become part of the community that exists around your website.

4. Let Visitors Know How You Want them to Be Involved

Simply giving visitors a way to get involved is good, but encouraging them to do so is even better. Make it clear to your visitors specifically how they can get involved and give them no excuse not to do so. Sometimes it is amazing how much better of a response you can get just by asking for some involvement. About a month ago DZone, a community social networking site for developers, asked members to get more involved by voting for at least 3 submissions each day. The next day the number of votes doubled. Of course, this example won’t apply to every situation, but it shows that clearly communicating to visitors can help you to get specifically what you want.

If you read a lot of blogs, you’ll notice that those who typically receive the most comments will also be the bloggers who clearly encourage readers to voice their opinions. It’s amazing that by simply reminding readers that you value their feedback can produce such results.

5. Focus On Building Repeat Traffic

Engaging visitors and building repeat traffic go hand-in-hand, in my opinion. Visitors that get involved and enjoy their experience on you website will want to come back, and visitors that come back frequently will be more likely to get involved.

Some visitors may not want to get involved at your website on their first visit, but if you can just get them to come back again they will be a little bit more likely to get involved. Repeat visitors will typically be the most responsive, regardless of how you are hoping to get them involved.

What Are Your Thoughts?

How do you go about creating a more engaging website? From the perspective of a visitor, what characteristics or qualities of a website will encourage you to get involved?

Published January 27th, 2008 by

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17 Responses

Comments are now closed on this post.

  • adwin wijaya, January 29, 2008

    A nice and usefull article for those who love to know how to make good web content.

  • whole disk encryption, January 29, 2008

    I believe the whole key is to not make it to hard on the user. I remeber those choose your own adventure books when I was a kid. I had two choices to make, so I could be involved but also not have to be to deeply serious.

    I am a big believer leave the serious interaction for a forum, blog, etc. The main content needs to be engaging and naturally lead someone to a next step without them having to over analyze what to do.

  • Vandelay Design, January 29, 2008

    Good point. Making things easy is key.

  • Click for Nick, January 30, 2008

    I noticed that as I started making my content better and more readable i.e. using less ads, my website actually started getting more visitors. I think clutter is bad. it should be easier to read articles and not be surrounded by 1million ads.

  • Wayne Smallman, January 30, 2008

    For me, #3-5 are almost one and the same — building visible CTAs (Calls to Action) which are tied to measured goal funnels and creating genuine “Stickiness”, whereby people will want to participate and return again and again and again.

    Sounds easy? Only as easy as your knowledge of the people you’re hunting down…

  • Vandelay Design, January 30, 2008

    Wayne,
    Yeah, I agree, they pretty much go together. Knowing your audience is definitely key.

  • Thanks for the article.

    Have an exSEOllent 2008

  • GrafikerBurak, July 25, 2008

    Good point. Making things easy is key.

  • Matthew homes, February 27, 2009

    This is a good tip or pointers to ponder on how to engage a quality website.avoiding clutter for the first step is to organize your work so that readers will be more interested in your article.Providing a thought and focus on it will give you quality article.

  • Marvin, May 21, 2009

    This is a very good post. I also wrote a rather amateurish article on ‘choosing colors for an engaging website’ !
    Link is here:

    http://latticepurple.com/blog/?p=15

    I am followign your blog:-)

    ~ Marvin

  • BB King, November 26, 2009

    Avoiding clutter. Yes. I do get put off with clutter so our websites are usually customer focused because visitors want to pick relevant information from your website within 3 seconds so you dont want to put them off with weird clutter, rioting colours, flashing icons, excessive ads. Once a visitor feels lost, they are gone.

  • Paul, December 17, 2010

    Great article, which can only stand evidence by me responding. I think another great thing that helps users get involve is the upvoting of comments that reddit.com has on their site. It allows community involvement