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Web Design \ JUL 9th 2018

The Best Practices to Increase Website User Engagement

Have you ever heard of the “IKEA effect?” In summary, a study by Michael I. Norton from Harvard found that consumers become more invested in something that they partially created. We can take insight from this self-assemble furniture company when creating a website that increases user engagement.

Essentially, website engagement boils down to the fact that your pages can (and should) be so much more than just a place to display information about your company. They should lead users to do something, like buy your product, subscribe to your newsletter, or share an article from your blog. If you want visitors to stick around and continue to come back, it’s important to make them feel that they have gained something useful there and somehow took action – in a nutshell: that they weren’t simply spectators, but rather players. Engagement is your game, and it begins with understanding the players’ behaviors. Here’s how to make your website interactive:

01. Use a simple and clean layout

If a visitor opens a site that is way too busy or unorganized, the unconscious decision to leave ASAP kicks in. To avoid this, focus on keeping everything clean and systematic. A simple layout creates a contrast with the most important and engaging elements on your website (your CTAs, contact forms, online shop, etc.). This naturally causes a viewer’s eyes to focus there. On top of it, an uncluttered design will load faster, help your users navigate your website sections stress-free, and will be easier to view on mobile – all of which will increase website engagement from the get-go.

To get started on the right foot, choose a website template that already has all of the essentials laid out for you. It should also be organized in a neat and thought out way. On top of being a major web design trend, it’s a good practice to pick one that offers a one-page website design, where each menu item leads to a different section of the same page. This is easier to craft a story, control the order that users see your content in, and it works great on the mobile version of your site. Follow through by keeping your menu standard and simple, which includes picking item names that are straight-to-the-point, like “Blog,” “Contact,” and “Gallery.” This isn’t the place to free your creative side (don’t worry, that will come).

02. Choose readable fonts and colors

The more visually appealing your content is, the higher the chances visitors are to click on your links, read your articles, and overall interact on your website – that’s just an obvious fact. But how do you achieve this result? By selecting complimentary fonts and colors and using them to create a hierarchy within your text. The golden rule here is to make sure to not use more than three of each to avoid too much visual noise. When choosing your website’s fonts, always assign one to your title, another to your text, and a third to navigational items, like your calls-to-action, menu, and footers. For your color palette, choose a primary, secondary, and accent tone – for the same elements. Your colors and fonts should flow nicely together. Note that, on top of pleasing the eyes of your visitors, these aesthetics are key when it comes to their very behavior – as a matter of fact, this article will surprise you on how colors can evoke different emotions.

03. Optimize your content

Since the average human’s attention span is equivalent to that of a goldfish, the norm of today’s online content is to keep it as concise and attractive as possible. Speed matters a lot when you want to engage with your audience. In fact, 40% of people abandon a website that takes more than a few seconds to load. You can achieve faster loading pages and easily digestible content by shortening your written content – the shorter the sentence is, the better. For your visual content, make sure to include the most striking images and videos available to you. You can optimize your images so that they are displayed in the best and most efficient way via Wix Pro Gallery.

04. Don’t be afraid to use white space

This doesn’t necessarily mean space that is the color white. In web design, white space designates any unmarked territory on a page that’s free from text or images. It can be the space between content, or in the margins, for example. Your website isn’t a resume where every inch needs to be filled with your qualities and attributes of your business. Yes, it’s important that you include those, but less content is even more important for an enjoyable website user experience. Avoid cramming too much information in. Separate features and ideas to give each piece of content a home. A great and trendy way to achieve this is by dividing your layout in a grid, by easily adding columns. This will enhance the look and feel of everything on your site. When your content can breathe, your intent will become clear and lucid to visitors – and overall encourage them to reach out and shop your online store or book your services.

Example of how white space can increase website user engagement

05. Master the where and how of CTAs

Calls-to-action (CTAs) are short phrases that prompt your online audience to take immediate action. These are clear intentions of how you want to convert visitors to your website, i.e., to sign up for your newsletter, blog, or shop your products. When these are stronger and more persuasive these will lead to more favorable spikes in sales, traffic, newsletter signups, and anything your link may entail. To lead users to click those links, take the necessary steps to make your message pops: choose vibrant colors, large-sized buttons, and place them in eye-catching locations on your website (the best location is above the fold, i.e., the first half of your website shown before a user has to scroll down). You might even consider attracting the users’ attention via a lightbox.

What should you write in each CTA? Begin by aligning your message with your goals. Are you trying to lead visitors to buy something from you, subscribe to your newsletter, or book a service? Then, you’ll want to voice this intent in action-oriented language. Make sure to give your visitors one directive (and one directive only) and phrase it using an imperative verb. You’ll also want to avoid the classic (and boring) “Click here” wording, as people want to understand not only what they need to do, but also why they should do it. So, be crystal-clear and you can also make your message eccentric, original, baffling, or even unexpected – this is where your creative side kicks in. But overall, keep the wording short and sweet.

06. Add a dash of parallax

We all know that thrilling feeling of seeing an IMAX 3D movie, despite our age. There’s a way to transfer that emotion to your own website. Parallax scrolling, a continued web design trend creates a 2D version of your website by moving the background images slower than the foreground ones – adding depth and movement to your site. It will increase website engagement because it only works when a user scrolls, which they certainly will due to this playful and eye-catching feature. Good news: you don’t even have to be a coder or professional designer to achieve this result. Through the Wix Editor, add your own images and videos to a strip, and then choose from the many different pre-animated effects, like zoom in, reveal, fade.

07. Optimize your site for mobile

Smartphones accounted for 49.7 percent of web page views last year, and this number is dramatically increasing. As more and more users are turning to their portable gadgets, it’s crucial that you have a well-designed website fit for them to interact with on all devices. Luckily, every Wix website automatically comes with its mobile-optimized version, which will save you a tremendous amount of time and hassle. And thanks to the ‘quick action bar,’ all of your most important contact details (phone, email and social media) are gathered in a clear and visible location on your mobile site. This can only increase your website’s engagement by making it easier to navigate through – even on small screens like smartphones and tablets. Finally, don’t forget to add a ‘back to top button,’ so that visitors can scroll all the way up your page, with just the click of a thumb.

Did you know that making your website mobile-friendly isn’t only appreciated by humans, but also by search engines bots? As a matter of fact, this has become the number one criteria when it comes to indexing and ranking your website. Read more about Google’s mobile-first revolution here.

Example of how mobile-optimized websites can increase website user engagement

08. Include a live chat feature

Instant gratification has become a norm of today, which is why your website viewers prefer to have their questions answered immediately. To easily provide them with this assurance, include a live chat option on your website, like the Wix Chat app. Users that installed this intuitive chat on their website increased store orders by 39% and service bookings by 33%! This tremendous growth rate is due to reachability. First of all, you can be available on-the-go to answer all your clients at any time or direct them to your knowledge base where they can find answers themselves. Plus, Wix Chat instantly notifies you when a new visitor enters your site, allowing you to reach out to them and spark a conversation. This urgency is highly useful for your business based on the fact that 49% of site owners who answer their visitors’ messages after 5-10 seconds created a meaningful conversation with them.

09. Include a hub for your members

Engagement is a friend to the term retention. Therefore, the best way to keep visitors coming back to your website is by allowing them to sign up and become a member of a like-minded community. Plus, websites with sign-ups are known to increase engagement anywhere from two to six times. A member’s area is a great way to encourage your fan base to create an account within your website because it provides a personal space for them to interact with each other, and with you. It’s also a perfect addition to a forum website or blog, as you’ll see below.

The people that sign up for your website are the ones most interested in the work that you do. Think about the websites you’ve signed up for, there was a reason you committed to this step: updates, improved customer service, or to participate in discussions. There are many things members can do when they join your community, such as follow other members, like and comment on posts, and instantly receive email notifications when you share an update. For you, the benefits of this are highly worthwhile too. A member’s area allows you to see everyone’s shared information: their contact details, the discussion they have participated in, and what interests they are following. You will get to know your community on a personal level and be able to expand your marketing efforts the right way to the right audience.

10. Captivate your viewers with a blog

Content is king, especially when it comes to user engagement. This means that starting a blog full of expert tips and your opinions on the latest industry trends are likely to entice readers to contact you, debate, argue and eventually engage more with your brand and website. A blog is also a great place to leave a lasting impression by inspiring, educating, entertaining, building trust, and establishing yourself as an expert in your field. The best part of it all: when you use the proper SEO for bloggers techniques, this online version of a diary can help you increase your chances of entering the page-one ranking on Google for specific keyword searches.

When you create a blog combined with your member’s area, your readers can engage a few steps further. They can share their opinions, interact with the community, and comment and like any of your posts. Even further, you can invite your most beloved members to become guest bloggers with just a click of a button. This is an added bonus for you because it saves you lots of time in content production, allowing you to focus more on your awesome business. This is just one illustration of how engagement can be molded into teamwork.

11. Create an online community with a forum

One promising way to ensure that visitors come back to your website is through an Internet forum. This is a great way to build a strong community around your website and topic of your business. It’s essentially a discussion board that allows users to start and interact with conversations about any topic. It gives them the opportunity to stay active and share their opinions as frequently as desired. For example, if you have an online boutique, the forum section of your website is a great place for members to discuss current fashion trends. A best practice to keep in mind with forums is that as the owner, you should be the first to engage. This means being extremely proactive when it comes to posting and answering questions.

With Wix Forum, you and your community alike are granted a hub for organized, thought-provoking discussions that can arouse inspiration and wisdom through the following outlets:

  • Social features of the member’s area allow users to create, share, like and comment on posts.
  • Members are updated with the latest activity they follow (posts, comments, and likes) through email notifications.
  • You can pin the most relevant and useful comment at the top of each question.
  • Appoint moderators, in other words, your trusted leaders for each discussion.
  • Make it yours by customizing the layout to match your website’s style.
  • Create categories to organize your various themes of discussion.

12. Collect data with forms

By implementing forms to your website, your visitors are prompted to fill in their personal details in order to receive help, feedback, or other valuable information about your products and services. Forms can be used in a number of constructive ways: sign-ups, price quotes, support, testimonials, job applications, feedbacks, and contests. Wix Forms is a simple tool to easily design your forms using customizable templates and inserting them anywhere you may need on your site. Once a visitor fills out your form, you will instantly receive a notification so that you can stay on top of all your incoming requests.

Ready to engage with your online community? Create a website with Wix today!

By Jennifer Kaplan
Community Writer, Wix About the Wix Blog

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