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 Steven Snell