Remember how you clung to your sweetheart as Lionel Ritchie soothed the airwaves with Stuck on You? Holding on so tightly it was as much a testament to your endurance as to your affection. Perhaps it was your high school prom or a party in your friend’s basement. Or perhaps you have no idea who Lionel Ritchie is (shame!) and have always avoided both parties and basements. I suspect you have still experienced that all-consuming embrace and being stuck on your sweetheart. That desire to be part of, that willingness to stay the course, that yearning to be involved… that will probably never happen on your website.
However, there are many things you can do to make your website more engaging and interesting – more sticky. Hormones aside, the following recommendations will help you develop a sticky website to attract more relevant traffic and welcome them with a tight embrace.
Simple to Use
There has been a trend towards simpler and cleaner websites. We’ve grown weary of “cool” design that is more form than function, and frustrated with hard to navigate sites. That’s not to say that people are no longer impressed with technically cool websites, it just can’t be at the expense of simple operation and clear communication.
Many websites have a large amount of information; it makes sense to provide a good resource online. The critical factor is structuring and presenting the information in an easy to access manner. That includes making your website and content accessible for those with disabilities. [Click here to download our AODA Checklist.]
Little is more frustrating than clicking on a link and landing on an error page. Or, trusting in a website enough to register for a webinar and then the form doesn’t work. It can be very costly to disappoint your audience. Things will change on your website with new content being added, software updating, external links changing… it is virtually a living organism that needs attention to continue to perform. Maintaining the security and technical aspects of your website will help others trust and use it effectively.
Your website is made up of thousands of lines of code, and it interacts every day with thousands of lines of other code. It is likely that your website will suffer technical issues and even get infected at times, but a healthy (updated and monitored) website can survive just fine. [Click here to view our maintenance packages.]
Integrate Your Brand
Simply including your logo and using brand colours is not integrating your brand. It is a topical solution, and if you’re only going skin-deep your missing the heart of the matter.
Is your main messaging clear and do you leverage your headlines? What is the tone of your organization and is your content reflecting that nuance? Are graphics and icons customized to reflect your brand and strengthened with messaging (when appropriate)? Are photos and illustrations supporting your brand via composition, colour, cropping and customization? There are myriad ways to integrate your brand, some obvious, some subtle, some directed at peoples’ conscious deliberation, others directed at their subconscious. Branding is a sophisticated process that goes well beyond a logo and colour, and your website is an ideal tool to effectively position and support your brand. [View our approach to branding.]
Cater to Your Audience
That means you must know your audience. For a small business that requires lasering down to the segment of customers that you serve best. For an association that means concentrating on the core membership. That doesn’t mean that you must ignore other customers and stakeholders, but focus your message on your primary audience. Speaking loud and direct to them will help them see the relevance of your website.
Your website can be structured to address niche audiences, but that should be a conscious and strategic action. That allows you to communicate effectively to each audience, customize your SEO efforts for specific pages, and provide a user-friendly experience.
Keep Content Fresh
Even your core market won’t bother returning to reread information. Websites are relatively easy to update regularly. (Yes, I say this even though we are often less than frequent with our own blog!) It does take commitment and perhaps an ongoing expense, but well worthwhile to keep your audience updated and engaged; and to improve your website search rankings.
Your website could include relevant corporate sector or association information, such as events, activities, announcements, articles worth reading, etc. You can up the ante with images from an event, showing product usage, or photo contest with submissions form your audience. Video is an even bigger draw, whether it’s instructional, a review or highlighting a charity your organization supports. Videos can help improve search rankings as well. Another media file worth considering is audio, such as podcasts, interviews (staff, customers, news-makers, etc.) or maybe staff’s music picks.
Content is the reason why someone visits your website, so strive to keep it interesting, up-dated and formatted to be accessible, as well as to maximize SEO.
Remember that slow dance partner you were snuggling with when we started? They’re dancing with someone else now, but don’t fret. Apply these recommendations to your next website, and with a sticky website you’ll be enjoying that sweet embrace in no time.