7 Ways to Attract and Retain Visitors
The attention span of internet travelers is racing towards zero. And with the rise of mobile devices plodding on 3G connections, your website not only competes with other websites but the physical environment around the user on the go: a traveller in a busy airport terminal, a parent corralling children after school, or a teenager with friends at a shopping mall. Here are some tips to ensure that your website isn’t working against your quest for the visitor’s attention.
Publish great content
Make it easy for users to like you. No matter the industry or service, your content is what matters. If you strip away everything about your site except your core content—articles or blog posts, merchandise, or functionality—is anyone still interested? Care about your content, or no one else will.
Sweat the details
Make it easy for users to consume that great content you’ve published. The difference between Ford and Lincoln, Old Navy and Neiman Marcus, and a basic bicycle and Armstrong’s feather-weight, competition bike is in the details. Typography, textures, colors, and balance play critical roles in representing a website’s culture or persona. Does Craigslist look the same as Amazon? And for that matter, does Amazon still look like it did in 2005?
Define a primary call-to-action
Make it easy for users to take the next step. Every website falls into one of four categories: sales, informational, personal, or futile. Your website is most likely a sales website—ecommerce, donation-based, ad-supported, or lead-generation for offline sales. Defining a primary call-to-action on each page engages users to spend more time and/or money on your website.
Deliver with speed
Make it easy for users to stay connected. In order for users to spend more time on your website, you need to allow them to spend as little time as possible. Sounds like an oxymoron, but it’s not. If a visitor is able to get things done on your website faster than they would with a competitor’s, they’re more likely to use your website again. Consider MySpace and Facebook: both websites allow users to create profile pages and connect with others. During their infancy, which website loaded profile pages more quickly? And which just paid $1 billion for a photography-based mobile application?
Spread the news
Make it easy for users to work for you. Facebook’s influence on the Internet is undeniable. Include “Like” and “Share” buttons so visitors can quickly spread your content to their network. And Facebook isn’t the only network in town: Twitter, Pinterest, and Foursquare to name a few. What’s important is to identify which networks are most relevant to your content and how many is too many. Having too much social presence can slow your site down and potentially look like you’re trying too hard.
Trim the fat
Make it easy for users to get things done. Only include pertinent social networks. Remove clutter. Remove stupid widgets. Remove intrusive advertisements. Remove jargon, except where specificity is necessary. If the item in question doesn’t fall under these tips, you don’t need it; and your users don’t need it either.
Become a brand
Make it easy for users to remember you. Create an experience that has quality content, has a complementing interface, has a clear purpose, is quickly delivered, is easily shared, and is considerate—and they’ll remember you for it.
The worst thing your website can do is to remain neglected and uninviting. Do you have any tips for attracting and retaining visitors? Share in the comments below.