Designing For Repeat Users

Repeat usage is one of the great keys to the long term
success of a web site. It is one of the toughest to measure
and hardest to create.

    When you website reaches its first primary plateau where your visits
    start to stagnate, that is not necessarily the time to panic and
    redesign your site. Its a time to add “more-better-different”.

    Giving them a reason to come back

    Websites are so diverse in their purposes and nature, that there are few
    all encompassing one-size-fits-all methods you can use to increase your
    repeat business. However, there are some time honored widgets you can
    add to your site to raise its profile and get you beyond your initial
    build.

    Newsletters

    Yep, the good old newsletter can bring out the repeat customer on
    a regular basis. Doesn’t have to be a huge tomb of information, but it
    should be interesting, low on promo spam, and high on content. If you
    can get people to sign up for a news letter you can build a profitable
    site out of any subject. How many newsletters are you signed up for?

    BBS Forums and Messaging Systems

    In order to make a good old BBS forum system
    work, you need to have a certain level of traffic to work with, and
    you need to seed the message base with five or more good starter
    messages. The whole deal with BBS’s systems is getting users to interact with each
    other. As it stands now, this is a solo sight out in the
    middle of the desert as far as your concerned, but if you were reading
    this in the context where you could easily reply or read other opinions,
    wouldn’t you be more likely to come back to see the responses in a few days?

    Polls and Voting

    With controversy reining supreme these days, who doesn’t love to
    put in their two cents on a quick poll? Users come back time and time
    again to see the results.

    Site Interactivity

    Site Interactivity is the word for the day. No matter how good
    your content is, how compelling your arguments are, there is
    nothing like putting two people together on the Internet. Look
    at the popularity of email and Usenet. Nothing attracts a
    crowd like a crowd
    . If you can engage your
    users senses beyond the solidarity of setting behind the keyboard
    and reading, you’ll get them to come back and back.

    Chat

    Its almost official, chat doesn’t work very well from most small
    and medium websites. Unless you have over 5000 users a day,
    don’t consider building a chat system as a good use of your time.

    Chats main drawback is that it requires quite a few people to make a
    system work, and most websites don’t have that kind of traffic or
    support in order to make chat successful – nobody wants to set in
    a lonely chat room.

    On-the-other-hand, I am amazed at the number of people that will
    message me via ICQ. I recently put my ICQ number at the bottom
    of several pages. So many users messaged me, that I couldn’t get
    any work done and had to take it off. While chatting with these
    people, I traced their path through the logs and most hit more
    than 20pages on this site over an average of an hours time (yikes – kinda
    cool eh?).

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