The term ‘sticky’ is often applied to web design. It refers to the notion that your website once visited is hard to leave. In other words, your visitor sees something that makes them want to read or see more.
It can be very difficult to make your own website stand out enough that visitors don’t just bounce off it and find another website which engages them more.
Here’s 10 ways you can make your web design stickier:
There’s nothing more off putting than arriving at a website and feeling like you don’t know how to navigate. It’s fine to be creative with how the site is navigated and structured but it’s best to stick to basic principles or tried and tested methods.
Evidence suggests web pages are scanned by users in a F shape, whereby the eyes scan across the page twice and then down the page. Therefore it makes sense to keep navigation across the top of the page and down the left hand side. Make sure your visitors can at least navigate your website before trying anything too clever!
A sticky website shouldn’t disappoint your potential customers. A sure way of doing this is when functionality is broken or worse still, won’t even load. Users will judge your business or service on your website’s performance and if it won’t work, it seems sloppy.
Likewise, outdated information, links to external sites, which are broken or out of date and incorrect data are all causes for users to back away.
If your users can land on your home page and understand the nature of your business, products or services and ethos in four quick slides and without even having to click anything then your home page is both sticky and communicating powerfully.
Getting your message across quickly is also an important consideration when writing copy. Often the first thing visitors will see is the headline of the page, then either a quick read of the opening paragraph or a skim through the sub headers and/or bullet points. This also represents how Search Engines will ‘read’ your page and as such relevant, concise copy is key.
If your visitors can’t quickly find the information they want, they will look elsewhere for it. Provide the information in an easy to read way and they will reward you by browsing more of your site and engaging with your business.
The internet has changed. Long gone is the world of information or brochure sites. We live in a world where most people are confident web users. As such, they are confident interacting with a website, be that through e-commerce, social networking, commenting, opinion polls or games and interactive tools.
Help your web savvy users by providing tools to help themselves. Comparison tools, online booking, interactive product creators and alike all give your users something to ‘play with’ and at the same time enable them to formulate their requirements before coming forward with a definitive request and likely new business for you.
Recognising the users location and providing relevant information is a handy way to engage your visitors. Isn’t it nice when things just work intuitively?
This is more applicable for some organisations than others. By promoting the nearest and most accessible location to access your products or services makes it all the more easy to attract customers.
Likewise, if the offering is adaptable depending on where your user is based show the most relevant messages. For example, a college might show part time and college courses to local users but information on halls of residence and degree level courses for those further afield.
Rewarding users with original, interesting articles, videos, reviews and alike is a good way to make your website sticky. Users will happily digest interesting content, especially if they are learning new skills or acquiring knowledge as a result.
This approach will also help ensure users may return to your website the next time they need inspiration or information. Make best use of this content, enable sharing, bookmarking and comments to expand the potential rewards of creating content. Good content is also key in the battle to rank highly in leading search engines.
Using clear layouts, good typography and an intuitive hierarchy of information ensures your visitors can quickly scan the page and find the essential pieces of information they need. A jumbled web page of text, which is all the same size makes it hard to read and off putting.
Use variations in type size and font/weight to make content readable. Make use of summary boxes, bullet points, numbered lists and excerpts to ensure users can easily identify how to find the information they want. By making your web pages instantly readable with a quick skim over the page it’s more likely your visitors will ‘stick around’.
Scrolling is a great way to make web pages more sticky, especially where your page templates have been designed with this in mind. Until recently web designers were fearful of using scrolling, but ‘the fold’ (or bottom of your website which can be seen) has never been so blurry.
Mobile devices with touch gestures, which rely on scrolling, have ensured that this method of absorbing information has entered the mainstream psyche.
Add to this scrolling social media websites such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest and larger organisation websites such as Apple’s own scrolling masterpiece and we can be confident users are happy scrolling. This is all backed up in hard evidence by website user statistics, reports and studies.
So why does a scrolling page make your website sticky? Well, in short, because you should be able to tell your visitor a lot of what they want to know, without them even needing to click anything. In effect you can tell your story in continuous, easily absorbed format, with large images and bite-sized chunks.
Creating informative videos is a surefire way to make your website sticky. When users can simply watch a video for 30 seconds rather than read pages of content it delivers a much more instant and entertaining resource.
We are by nature visual creatures. An image is usually far more interesting than a paragraph of copy. Consider 360˚ product views or environments to tell your story or promote your wares.
In conclusion, making your website sticky is about it being interesting, accessible and easy to use. Add to this interesting effects and user interactivity and you should be well on your way to making your website work harder for you.
Written by Melon, and established web design agency in Milton Keynes.
Click here to contact us if you have a web design or graphic design project you would like to discuss.