Transforming a site from good to excellent
- Copyright (C) Richard Lowe Jr. and Claudia Arevalo-Lowe, 1999-2001.
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Article Title: Transforming a site from good to excellent
Author: Richard Lowe, Jr.
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One of the challenges of moving a web site up from good to excellent
is transforming it from just a bunch of web pages and graphics to an
interactive experience. Another term for this is community - a place
where people can come to communicate with others. The very best web
sites have mastered this transformation, thus attracting return
visitors again and again.
The whole point of a web site is to communicate ideas and concepts to
other people. If you are just putting up pages and graphics, then you
are performing half of a communication. You are telling people what
you think, want, desire or need.
The other half of communication is listening. That's why merely
adding an email form (or link) and a guestbook go a long way to
improve your visitor's experience with your web site. You are giving
them the opportunity to tell you what's on their mind. If you also
take the time to answer their messages and perhaps even get involved
in an online communication - then you may very well have a friend for
You can add even more value (and get a few more visitors as well) by
adding a "tell-a-friend" capability to your site. This adds a third
and very interesting (although seemingly trivial) element to your
site: the ability to add others to the communication.
Look at it this way. Someone surfed to your site and actually found
something that was interesting. That's actually not an incredibly
common occurrence on the internet (consider how many stupid, boring
or just plain silly sites you've visited). Okay, they've found
something interesting, perhaps very interesting, and they want to
tell someone. You would be very wise to give them this capability.
This is not just because it gains you another visitor, but it makes
people feel better. Why? Because people like to share good
experiences with each other.
You want to increase the ante? Include a message board! Now you've
added another form of conversation to your website. People can jump
on your board and leave messages for each other, answer questions and
generally have discussions about whatever subject appeals to you.
Some advice about message boards: be sure and actively moderate the
board. Why? Some unscrupulous people have a tendency to leave
advertisements, pornography, curses and flames on message boards.
Unless that's what your board is about, none of this serves your
purpose: to get people to talk about your subject and come back to
Another good reason to moderate the board is it puts you in control,
which is where you should be. It's your board and naturally
conversations should be about subjects in which you are interested.
The purpose of the board is to improve your site and your visitor
experience - not ruin their good time.
Another great interactive feature which is not so obvious is running
an awards program. What this accomplishes is simple: you are inviting
people to submit their sites to you for review. By giving them the
opportunity to apply for the award you are increasing the value of
your site to them, and improving your chances of getting them back
Perhaps one of the very best interactive features is hosting your own
custom made e-cards. These are extremely popular and greatly improve
your visitors experience on your site. Better yet, they give your
visitors an opportunity to communicate (by sending cards) with their
friends - and their friends may visit your site also.
Other features which increase your site's desirability even more is
polls and surveys, interactive stories (to see our own interactive
story, visit http://www.internet-tips.net/cgi-bin/story/story.pl -
and add your own chapter), ezines and even chat rooms.
By adding these and other features, you are increasing your value to
people who visit your site. If there is one thing that people like to
do (and must do to survive well) it's communicate. By giving people
many different ways to communicate, you are making it more likely
that they will visit your site, stick around, and recommend it to
NOTE: The following information must be included if you reprint this
Richard Lowe Jr. is the webmaster of Internet Tips And Secrets. This
website includes over 1,000 free articles to improve your internet
profits, enjoyment and knowledge.
Web Site Address: http://www.internet-tips.net
Weekly newsletter: http://www.internet-tips.net/joinlist.htm
Daily Tips: internet-tips@...
Claudia Arevalo-Lowe is the webmistress of Internet Tips And Secrets
and Surviving Asthma. Visit her site at http://survivingasthma.com
List of articles available for reprint: article-list@...