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If you own a website, you want return visitors. A return visitor is as important to a website as a repeat customer or a regular is to any business. It’s the “fan” concept: If you know you can count on someone to look at what you’re doing or to purchase what you offer, then you know you can count on any benefits that provides your website or company. In web design and online marketing, this concept is frequently called “stickiness.”

What Is Stickiness?

In web design and online marketing, the concept of having a website which draws repeat visitors is often referred to as “stickiness.” This bit of jargon can also be used as an adjective, as in, “How sticky is your website?” A website that causes someone to come back has some quality which “sticks” with the person, which is how this concept got its name. So if someone tells you they want to make your website stickier, they don’t mean that they want to cover your servers in glue. What they’re looking to do is make your website interesting and active enough for someone to come back to it again and again.

Tactics for a Stickier Website

Obviously, the number one thing you can do to make a stickier website is to update it often and provide useful, interesting information to your reader. That much is a given for sticky websites, and should be the first place anyone looking to make a sticky website to look. Ask a friend to read some of your content, then ask them the following questions:

  • How much effort did it take to read the content? Content can be difficult to read for multiple reasons, but the two biggest offenders are that the content is boring and that it uses complex sentence structures. If your friend says the site is difficult to read, consider overhauling the content with short, punchy sentences, and look for ways to make the discussion points more enticing to the reader.
  • Did you learn anything you didn’t know before? This is important, because if you aren’t offering a new perspective, you are likely boring the reader, and nobody will inflict boredom on themselves more than once.
  • How real did it feel? Honesty is a valuable thing for site stickiness. Here’s the truth: Nobody likes to read corporate speak. Corporate speak comes off as grating, politically correct drivel when compared to someone who quite clearly has an opinion and isn’t afraid to be a little blunt. Will you offend some people? Possibly, but the return visitors you do gain will be that much more loyal because you aren’t tepid or timid about your opinions. Timid is boring. Don’t be boring. On the flip side, feel free to avoid particularly divisive issues. The point is to find the areas where you want your business to take a stand, and then make that stand fearlessly. Don’t be afraid to make fun of companies that disagree with your way of doing things.

Alright, so, now we have sticky content. That’s the most important part of a sticky website. However, now what needs to happen is that your web design and website marketing needs to not interfere with that stickiness, and boost it where possible. Some things to try here:

  • RSS feeds, if your site updates frequently. Make it easy for people stick around.
  • A good comment section can get people involved with your website, and robust comments add credibility to the content they are attached to.
  • A professional-looking website boosts visitor confidence in your website. Avoid elements that will make your website load slowly, such as flash, and make your website easy to browse.

These are just a few things that can lead to improved website stickiness. I would love to hear any other things you have found that keep visitors coming back. What do you have?

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