July 13, 2007

"The President of the United States of America was killed today, you could be a suspect."

Within the first 10 seconds of visiting a website, visitors decide whether or not the website is worth their time. Webmasters have only a few options to make visitors interested in staying on their website for longer than a few seconds. I call this the "so what?" effect.

A great tactic for making visitors care - or feel obligated to stay on your website for a duration of time - is addressing the "so what" effect. Obviously, you could lie and say "the President of the United States of America was killed today, you could be a suspect." to get attention. But once you got your visitors attention you would have to confess that you lied to them (unless, of course, the President really was killed and your visitors could be suspects), risking the loss of hundreds of loyal visitors. So, here is one way you can make your website pass the "so what" effect and keep visitors interested longer than 10 seconds.

Make your visitors feel important.

Most websites that offer services, valuable information, or just fun things, focus on themselves - not the visitors. By focusing entirely on visitors, you make them feel important, and interest them in what you have to offer them for their time (and possibly money).

To make your visitors feel important, use words like "you" instead of "I" or "us." By blatantly focusing on visitors in this way - rather then yourself or the company - you're making them feel like a valuable part of the website. Granted, you don't have to stay up nights trying to figure out how to change the company slogan from "Get your kicks from us" to "It's all about you." But you should spend a few minutes thinking of copy to place on your website that will really focus on the visitors.

I would suggest placing this copy on the front page in big, bold letters. Because, typically, once you have a visitors attention you've done what you needed to, get them interested long enough to find out what it is you can offer them.

Today's article is a quickie, but I still hope you found it interesting. I'm heading out of town for the weekend, so no updates will be posted until Monday. I hope you all have a great weekend and I'll see you next week.