Everyone who creates a website does so for a purpose. One of the most common goals for creating a site is to engage the users with the website or brand. This engagement may lead to further user actions in the form of signing up for a subscription, buying a product or even requesting for more information.

There are many write-ups on how to generate leads and bring your website users to take some action. This post is like a precursor that covers the fundamental factors responsible for increasing user engagement on your website. Let’s read on.

1. Identify with your users

Every business website has some uniqueness in its users. For example, sites for older people should have a bigger font size. It is an obvious distinction and not every website may have such clear user identification factors.

But whatever the subject of your site is, there is undoubtedly some uniqueness about your users. It may take proper research to unearth these factors, but once identified, they will have a reciprocal effect. The more you identify with your users, more they identify with you.

A therapeutic relationship is essential to strike a deal, which is often the intent.

2. Do not ignore user demographics

User demographics is a sub-section of user identification. But since this is an important factor, I am giving it a dedicated description.

I love to identify users where they come from as it works well for me. When I say demographics, I take into account all possible social and regional characteristics that may make the user feel at home.

While the younger users get attracted by energy and fun, the mid-aged users prefer more relaxed, compiled and organized feel. If the target audience is from a specific geography, the symbols of joy and energy may be different for younger users.

Identifying right user demographics will help you create a persona for your website and create a separate league for itself.

3. Prepare the content well

One of the most significant spoilers is moving ahead without website copy. Most website design goes on with content written “side by side.” It factually means that the cook is not aware of all the ingredients in his recipe. You can well imagine the outcome of such a method.

There are two ways to create a website. The right way is first to write the content (website copy) and then look for a theme or template or hire a designer.

The second way is to look for a pre-designed template and write the content following the template. It leads to a disjointed write-up and is often not engaging.

Whether it is a website or a banner ad, the message is primarily created using written text. The role of imagery and other media is only to support and highlight the idea behind it.

In the absence of content, the designer won’t know the flow of messaging on the web page. The person will take some generic stock photos and paste them on the page.

Websites, themes, and templates designed with “Lorem Ipsum” are nothing more than elaborate versions of contrasting color palettes. They may look pleasant to the eye but do not convey a message.

4. Set up a user task flow.

You want your website users to perform some core tasks. E-commerce websites desire their users to add to cart and then make a purchase. Service-based sites want to the user to fill up an inquiry form. If we observe, both of the above tasks are end goals.

So what are the tasks that we need to prioritize? Tasks could be signing up for the website or newsletter. Other functions could be downloading a book, completing an online survey.

To make it easier to understand, you can consider every user click as a task. Now identify the areas where you want your users to click first.

An important thing to remember is that not all users are in the same state of mind or awareness. There is a good possibility that you may need to set up different task priorities for different users or different types of users.

Keep in mind that most users have a very low attention span. Within this short time, you want your users to do the most critical tasks. You can do this only when you know your task priority.

5. Keep the design simple

A website should be easy to understand and connect with, and simple means just that. Your typical website visitor expects your site to behave in a specific manner. Things such as placement of elements, size of fonts, spacing, clarity, and differentiation, all collectively decide if a website is easy to use.

Simple also means “no frills.” Frills that deviate user attention also drive them away. A simple design is one that keeps the deviations to a minimum.

A simple website responds to expectedly and does not try a bit to show technical novelty. A user should be able to get the message and perform the tasks with clarity and speed.

Following points would ensure a simple homepage.

1. Keep adequate line spacing in H1 to H6 tags and also body copy.
2. Use colors, font variants, font sizes, dividers, well-spaced columns, etc. for text-rich websites.
3. Use different images with harmonious colors.
4. Use adequate white space with pictures and text.

Another way to ensure simplicity is to keep the homepage light and precise.

The homepage is the landing page for most of your website users. However, homepage might not be the only page they would ever want to visit.

Some users would want to read about your services; others would want to sign-up. A section of users would like to download something or even fill out a contact form.

Many websites try to offer all of these things to users on the homepage. Add to it SEO requirements for content size and keywords; the homepage tends to get overloaded and cluttered. A user has to pay extra attention to view and click on the right areas. With a scarcity of time, such a website may not ever be a website of choice for most users.

You can keep your website homepage simple by checking a few points.

1. Navigation should be on the left or top right.

2. Have adequate spacing between navigation links.

3. Order the navigation links by “standard of the internet.”

4. Your logo should be the right size – not big, not small.

5. Do not put all services with descriptions on the homepage.

6. Keep word count below 500.

7. Use images with caption and lot of white space between images.

8. Do not have too many photos.

9. If it is an e-commerce site, only feature a few most popular products or categories on the homepage.

6. User attention & focal point

Every website has a focal point that draws user attention. Your central message should show up at this point. It could be in the form of text or image or both.

Often it is the messaging on the focal point that decides a user’s further course of action on the website.

Focal point message should do two things:

First, it should attract user’s attention to a specific subject and second it should lead the user to an action.

Never write confusing or comprehensive messages on the focal point of your website. Users may find it too generic and get turned off.

Focal point messaging may take time to perfect. Some websites try a/b or multivariate testing to improve the messaging on their focal points.

7. Clear and compelling call to action

You may narrate fascinating stories to your site users. You want them to read the stories and then take action. However, most users will leave the story, even like it but may not act like contacting you or signing up, etc.

The reason is simple, you haven’t clearly and convincingly asked them to take the next step. You can do this by writing clear and compelling call to action statements.

Call to action statements prompt the users to take next actions.

Since the user might not be ready to take action while reading something, call to action statements is repeatedly used to keep prompting the user to take action.

You have to look for a balance in using the call to action statements. A right balance means the CTAs are visible at all strategic places without overwhelming the user.

Best places to use CTAs are on buttons, in the form of headings and at the end of pages. Re-reading your content over and over again will help you identify the areas where you can place the call to action statements.

8. Limit the size of your content

It’s a tricky one. On the one hand, you may have read about long format content helping with SEO, but on the other hand, you need to ensure your homepage does not look oversized and cluttered.

Start with identifying your most important content. What is the foremost thing that your users look for in a business like yours?

It is a good practice to give your users a dive into your best content than to do a “touch and go” of everything. Most users to your site come looking for that one specific thing that interests them. And they would trust you for some particular reason which is often your USP (unique selling point).

Once the trust seeps in, users are smart to identify your offerings. To avoid any confusions, you can have contextual links to specific offering pages from within your homepage content. Most websites have footer links to guide users with further navigation.

Limited content gives the user time to focus and read through that content. Length of the scroll and loading time provides a good idea about the size of the page.

In case of longer pages (more than two scrolls), over 80% of users will first scroll the page to read the headings and glance through the page. The chances are that less than half of them will ever return to read your core message.

Limiting the content is a good practice both for SEO and Usability.

9. Keep ample white space

White color stands for calmness, purity, and serenity. Let us take a scenario where the site is for youth and needs to emit energy. The designer wants to use brighter colors and compelling pictures.

So how does one go about using white space on such websites? The bigger question is, is it even needed for such a site?

Let us understand white spaces in detail.

Most people including some designers think that white spaces mean having big patches of white. But it may not apply to all websites. If a site needs long-form content and many pictures, you have to put it. Here are some ways in which white spacing works.

1. Using more line-height brings a lot of white space in between the lines of text. It also makes the copy more readable. Increase the amount of spacing between your paragraphs.

2. Keep proper spacing between rows/sections on a webpage.

3. If you have to use colored rows or section backgrounds, place white parts between them.

4. Keep ample spacing between two items in a navigation menu. Keep the navigation menu small. Use drop-down navigation categories if you have many links.

5. Keep a good space between logo and navigation menu.

6. GIve more spacing between the input fields of forms.

7. Use padding around form input fields.

8. Use padding around images. You may also use images with lighter backgrounds.

10. Use Colours Wisely

Using colors is as important as using white spaces. Colors brighten up a website. They also lend a unique character to the site.

So how does one exactly go about selecting the colors for their website? A simple way is to use your brand colors. But brand colors are usually limited to 2 or 3 shades. Using only 2-3 colors across the website would make it look monotonous and boring.

The first step in selecting the colors for your website is to create a color scheme. Color schemes have the power to make your site look colorful and balanced. Based on the theme of your website, you could go in for color schemes with bright accent colors, crisp and fresh colors or natural and earthy colors.

One cool place to see some beautiful color swatches is “a nice collection of 50 Gorgeous Color Schemes” From Award-Winning Websites by Nayomi Chibana.

One crucial point is to ensure availability of images that go with your selected color scheme. While some pictures could be color corrected to suit the color scheme, it may not be a possibility with all images.

11. Relevant and attractive Images and videos

However cliched it may sound, a picture is worth a thousand words.

Invest time in finding the right pictures for your website. Anyone can search by keyword and get some stock images on a subject. When a similar keyword find different types of images, how do you ensure you use the best one? Your instincts are your best guide. But there is a way to do it.

Even before you start your image and video search, look at your current inventory. You may have some own pictures like product pictures that you have to use. In such cases, you have to find imagery that goes well with your photos.

If you do not have any pre-owned pictures, you should look at the story your content narrates. The images you find should tell the same story to your users.

It should be you and not your designer who selects these pictures. The designer can only choose good photos to go well with your color scheme. Do not expect a designer to absorb the whole essence of your business before finding the images.

Time invested in finding good pictures is a crucial factor in designing an engaging website.

12. Create a responsive website

Responsive websites are those that automatically align themselves with the viewing medium.

Creating a responsive website is a no more an option. With increasing mobile penetration, you need to do it that way only.

Websites made with content management systems use themes on the frontend, and a large number of themes are responsive.

If your website is custom developed, go in for a responsive HTML framework such as bootstrap. These frameworks are designed to be responsive, and you won’t have to make any extra efforts to ensure a responsive website.

13. Organize your content

First-time visitors to your website are not aware of what is in store. The first thing they want to ensure is the relevance of the site.

It would be naive to expect them to read through a few hundred words of information to establish a connection. Technically, you’ve got under 30 seconds to do that.

Your content needs to ensure an instant connect and should flow in a way that it takes 30 seconds to know what it is all about.

Some websites do it by writing a summary on top of the page; other try to do it by writing powerful punchlines.

A proven way to ensure user engagement is to organize your content using well-written headings and sub-headings. Most users jump from heading to heading in search of information. Well written headings and sub-headings give them a quick overview. They can then chose to read any specific information they like.

14. Use a friendly tone

The tone of your website contributes a lot towards its engagement quotient. A professional and assertively written piece of communication could be a business letter but not as website content.

Website copy should not be sophisticated. It must sound good to ears and should be easy to understand.

A friendly tone is relaxed, somewhat casual and makes ample use of examples to prove a point.

The tone also gets friendlier when you explain something from different perspectives. It ensures that the information gets across in the best possible way.

A little bit of humor also helps in making the tone friendly. Using a friendly tone makes the website more readable and understandable.

Another way to improve readability is to use active words. Websites with active words are easy to read and rank better in search results.

15. Double check your content

You want to give the best possible experience to your website users. One way of doing it is to improvise your content many times before publishing it.

There is a possibility of improving the content with almost every consecutive read.

Check your content for its flow. Is the content transitioning smoothly from topic to topic, or it sounds disjointed? You may want to add some transition words to make the transition smoother.

Another important thing is to do a double check for typographical errors and passive voice.

Multiple reads also help you cut down on some “content flab.”

16. Contextual links to relevant pages and websites

When you write about a subject, you want your users to understand it fully. It may require users to have a prior understanding of some other related concepts (there are always some pre-requisites for learning something new). But all of your users may not have the level of knowledge.

In such a situation, you have two choices. First, you can have a section to explain every such term. But this may not sound appealing to those who already know about it. It may get too elementary and even hinder the flow.

The second way is to provide links to all such terms and phrases. The links could point to a piece of content on your website or a different website. Interested users can always click the link to have a better understanding of the subject.

Using internal contextual links, allow more opportunities for site users to stay on the site for a longer duration.

Providing relevant external contextual links is also considered to be a good SEO practice. When other websites learn about their traffic routed via your website, there are chances they may return the favor.

17. Use lazy loading

A very common turn off is the slow page loading speed. Users are impatient and do not hesitate to move from one site to another. When your site loads slowly, an impatient user will get deviated and may jump over to other places.

Lazy loading is a technique in which the page loads images only for the visible part of it. So, it will keep loading images as you scroll it down.

Compare it to the situation when the page shows up only after all the elements have loaded. You will find that lazy loading pages appear faster and thus prevent the user from getting impatient and opening new tabs.

18. Message confirmation screens

Most websites want the user to take action like downloading a pdf or merely subscribing to a newsletter. Such activities require the user to fill up a form.

After filling up the form, the user lands on a confirmation screen where he gets a thank you message.

Using these “thank you” or confirmation screens wisely is a great way to increase your website engagement.

One way is to place links to other exciting sections or blog posts on your website. A user may find something useful and spend more time on your site.

Always remember, an increase in user’s time spent on your website is directly proportional to the number of leads generated.

19. Connect to your social presence

Most website owners should always be aware of their social presence on all platforms. It does not matter to a user whether he is learning about your company from your website, Facebook page or LinkedIn page.

Interconnecting your website with your social platforms results in movement of users from one place to another.

20. Test your website at regular intervals

A smooth experience on your website ensures a greater user engagement.

Many websites built with open source software like WordPress or Drupal require updates from time to time. Sometimes an update causes some parts of the site to behave erratically.

If you do not visit your website every day, you will only know about it when you look at your analytics and then your site.

It is a good idea to do some regular testing on the website to ensure everything works as intended.

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