What is Site Engagement, Exactly? Top Tips from #SAScon
It’s common to talk about how interesting last night’s talent show was on TV, how much you got into the latest game, how much you felt the atmosphere when you went to see your favourite singer or DJ but do we really think about what it is that actually makes you feel excited? Probably not.
But that’s ok. I want to take a step further back than that anyway. A step that crosses out of entertainment and into other forms of public media – websites – and what makes them interesting. What actually makes a website engaging?
Websites are typically (and historically, up until recently) much flatter and less interactive than seeing your favourite artist live on stage, for example, but much of the atmosphere and experience at a gig isn’t created by the artists themselves. It’s created by the sound, the lighting, the room, the acoustics, the hype, the songs and the people as well as their attitude. It’s an experience – not just a singer performing live versions of songs you already know.
Making a website engaging you need to think about much more than the layout and design. It goes much deeper into the user’s navigation flow through the site, the content on the pages, the bits that stand out, how the product or services is presented, how easy it is to find what they want, what catches their eye, flare and story-telling. It’s an experience, just like it is in any other form of media such as television, radio, billboards, magazines, cinema – everything.
Here are a few tips from the #SAScon conference that I picked up as well as a few of my own:
- Think about what’s above the fold. Users DO actually scroll, but they must be curious to scroll and read information. You need to grab their attention quickly and effectively with everything that’s above the fold while being clear and concise.
- When online, people have the choice and freedom to shop around – comparison sites, price checkers, Google shopping etc. – so make sure your prices are competitive or, if you offer a premium service, make sure the reasons you cost more are prominent and really add value to the end user.
- Be convincing but don’t push visitors into doing anything. Instead be informative and interesting and really get the visitor involved with your story. If they are still interested, make sure they have everything they need to get in touch with you. Don’t go for the hard sell, they’ll just go elsewhere. It’s their decision and they can leave at any time.
- Make sure your visitors feel like there is a way into your site. I’ve landed on sites and I really don’t know where to click. Nothing grabs my attention or even tries to get it. Reach out and give your clients a reason to read more.
- Provide incentives/offers and make sure they are obvious. These don’t necessarily need to be discounts but sometimes a really good reason to sign up is enough. What makes you the best choice?
- Focus your landing pages on one thing. Sometimes offering too much choice can stop a visitor in their tracks and completely disengage them. Make sure this doesn’t happen.
- First impressions really count. Get everything across quickly, professionally and ensure it is really targeted to what you audience is looking for. Sometimes, though, price is the ultimate deciding factor so ensure that this is attractive to your visitors.
- Website ideas usually start with flare, content ideas and story-telling but these are often squeezed out during the many other stages of development including design, creation and optimisation. Make sure the original objective and ideas are not lost in translation and that the finished product not only looks great but still contains what you wanted the website to be. It’s the story and flare that will make your website look flat and boring and people won’t remember it.
There is a lot you can do to help make your site more engaging. More than what is obvious, but it takes some digging to get what you need.
We have a head-start when it comes to websites because we can track user engagement, clicks, time spent on site, visitor journeys, how many hours or days it takes before they get in touch or order – and in great detail.
With social media we can extend the social signals and liaise directly with the public and interact with them if they have problems or are asking questions and we can track this.
It’s all there, we just need to know where to look and how to make sense of the information to make informed and educated decisions on how to make a site more engaging and get people to stick around longer and complete the goals you want them to complete quickly.
I hope this has helped shed a little light on how you can really push your site to be more productive and engaging and help people find exactly what they want easily and quickly. If you have any other tips or ideas please do comment below.