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How to Make Your Website "Sticky"

Aug 7, 2008
Getting people to visit the first time is less than half the battle. You'll need them to remain on the site long enough to take an action that benefits your business for the site to be effective. A site that gets people to stay there once they've arrived is called "sticky."

There are myriad ways a website can fail at stickiness. If the site fails to establish trust, people will probably leave. If the site seems shoddy, messy or unorganized, people will also leave. If the site asks too much of the user, like asking them to fill out a long form without offering any free teaser content before they can view valuable content, people are going to leave. If a site is confusing, people will leave. If a site has many broken links or "Page Not Found" errors, people are going to leave. This list goes on and on.

On the other hand, if a website offers quality content that is original, you greatly increase your chances that a visitor will stay. If your copywriting is compelling, succinct and easy to consume, people will want to continue reading. You want people to stay so you can capitalize on their presence. For example, if your call to action is to get visitors to sign up for your newsletter, they'll need to be there long enough to accomplish the following:

1. Learn that there is a newsletter to sign up for in the first place
2. Begin to trust you as an authority in your industry
3. Get their interest piqued enough to want to learn more from you
4. Be compelled enough to actually sign up for your newsletter
5. Learn to trust you enough to feel comfortable with giving you their e-mail address

This works for selling online as well. As a matter of fact, it is even more important to establish interest, trust and authority to make a sale online because you are lacking the power of one-on- one in-person communication.

Another factor that makes a site sticky is its ease of use. People like to get maximum benefit for minimum effort. Have you ever considered the design of Google's website? It is one of the simplest and cleanest home pages in existence. We can all learn from this. You and your Web vendor ought to be chanting this mantra through the entire planning and building phase of a new website: Clean Simple Easy, Clean Simple Easy, Clean Simple Easy. Say it over and over again.

People hate complicated websites that make them think too much. They hate feeling confused. They hate feeling stupid. They hate wasting their time. Many competing websites are a literal click away. And people have itchy back button fingers.

So to make your website as sticky as possible, create original and compelling content on a regular basis, establish trust and above all else, be sure to design it in a way that appears clean, and is simple and easy to use and to find information.
About the Author
Jason O'Connor is the owner of Oak Web Works, LLC (http://www.oakwebworks.com), an Internet strategy firm that specializes in helping businesses make money with their business websites. From Web design and development to strategic e-marketing and providing free Web resources for Web professionals, Oak Web Works, LLC specializes in all-things-Web.
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