Keeping Your Visitor On Your Website
It is not easy to get a visitor to your website. You have got to fight tooth and nail with thousands, maybe millions, of other sites for that visitor. For whatever reason, the visitor clicked the link, or typed in a url, and has landed on your home page.
Now, it is your job to keep that visitor on your site for as long as is humanly possible. Remember that the "back" button is always just one click away.
While the following techniques might just seem to be common sense, you will be surprised how many webmasters don't pay much attention to them.
Content is king. Your visitor went to your site for information, and will only stay on your site as long as he believes he can get what he needs, and not a second more.
So try your level best to inform, educate or entertain as the case may be.
You go to a home page of a site only to be greeted by a flash animation that is taking forever to load, and does not have a button you can click on to skip the animation and go to the main site. Guess what you are going to do? Yep, you will click the "back" button and go to another site.
Unless you have good reason to include the animation, I would suggest to not put it in at all. But if you are putting it in, make sure that it is reasonably small so that it will load fast, and it has a "Skip Intro" button so that the visitor can skip to the main page.
If you put in background music on your web page, do include a button to mute the music if the visitor so desires. And do make it intelligent enough so that when he navigates to the next page, the music is not going to start playing all over again.
I know it's boring to have a menu at the top or the left hand side. Every website does that and you want to be unique. But, from the visitor's point of view, that's ideal. He already knows how to navigate your site if you follow the standard. Your visitor comes to your site for content, and while he may appreciate a little uniqueness in site design, he will be history if he can't get to where he wants to go easily.
And if your site is quite a big one, you might want to consider adding a site map and/or a search engine.
Spelling and Grammar
Perfect spelling or grammar is not required. What I mean is that what you are writing is not going to be graded by your English teacher so you can be creative in that department. You can use words like "gonna", "ain't" and "wanna" if it endears you to your visitor. Start a sentence with "because" if it sounds better. Or use local slang if it's appropriate for your visitor.
In other words, make the visitor feel at home and identify with you. Make it feel like it is a friend talking to him, and not just some words on a computer screen.
But no broken English or spelling mistakes please. Nothing turns a visitor off more than a page full of spelling and grammatical errors that a 10 year old would not make.
Unless your site is about graphics, it's probably best to stick to the tried and tested, that is, white background with dark letters. Above all, make sure that the text can be easily read.
A visitor goes to your site to visit your site, and he definitely does not appreciate a screen popping up in his face telling him that he is the 1,000,000th visitor and that he has won a prize. Or a popunder that freezes the browser for a few seconds while it loads. Or a full screen popup that has no close button. Or a popup that appears every time you navigate to a new page. Or....
You get the picture. Popups are not a good idea. Don't put them on your site.
But if you really have to put popups on your site, make sure they follow the rules:
- The visitor will only see a maximum of one popup per visit.
- It must not freeze the browser when loading.
- It must not have audio.
- The popup must not be full screen.
- The popup must have a easily visible close button.
- Content of the popup must be for general audiences only, and that includes no pictures of bikini-clad women.
When all is said and done, it is all about your visitor. Look at your site from the point of view of your visitor. If you can do that well, I'm quite sure that your visitor will stay on your site for a long, long time.
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