Social studies: Making your website more shareable

These days, it’s not enough to have a great website. No matter how captivating your content is, regardless of how elegant your design, if your site is not building a community and engaging its visitors, it is not operating on all cylinders. If branding your business is your goal, you may need to rethink your website and focus on social engagement.

If you want to make the most of your website, you need to design it in such a way that people are encouraged to share it, spread it and cite it. This way, you can truly establish a system in which your customers will do a lot of the hard work for you. Instead of paying a marketing specialist, or purchasing expensive advertisements, you can hand the ball to your visitors and watch as they run with it.

Of course, this isn’t easy. If it was, every company would have a bangup site. However, the very difficulty of establishing a head-turning website is what makes those who do it stand so far apart from the crowd. If you devote energy to making your site as strong and social as it can be, you will have given yourself an incredible advantage over your competitors.

Here are some tips for ramping up the social networking strengths of your website.

Facilitate conversation
When designing your website, it is best to think of it less like a book and more like a book club. The goal is not to provide facts or product description or pearls of wisdom to your visitors, it is to engage them in a dialog about the goods and services you offer.

Provide opportunities for people to dive into the conversation. Make your comments section more prominent, for example, or provide a space for testimonials. You will notice that customers spend a lot more time on your site and visit more often if they feel their voice is being heard.

On a related note, change your language to be more inviting. Use a more familiar, conversational tone. Speak to your visitors as if they were your friends. Ask questions.

Make it easy to use
The last thing your customers want is a maze-like, dense interface. Remove clutter and keep entries short to give visitors a breezy, enjoyable stay. No one wants to direct their friends to a site that feels like a textbook or a catalog. Don’t rely too heavily on flash-based content. Ideally, your site should load quickly and have an intuitive layout that makes people feel like they’ve visited many times.