Keep visitors coming back
How you can keep your site fresh and attractive and encourage readers to visit regularly.
On the home page, tell visitors who you are, show them how you've organised your site, tell them about updates and give them a way to interact (sign up for a newsletter or other notification service).
Add links to related content – on either your site or sites of other organisations.
Try to guide readers to information they might want/need by asking: what else might they want to know? More background on the subject? More about us (link to our site's "About Us" page)? Other questions?
Commission sites are mainly content (text) based. Images, audio and video files can make them better looking, but for a legislative/policy-making organisation, content quality and presentation are all-important.
- Focus your information - present content in a way that appeals to the audience you consider most important/relevant to your site and policy area - usually there is no "one size fits all" solution!
- Organise your content based on the subjects involved, not the administrative structure of your institution (e.g. by units, directorates, etc.)
- Quality control - check the quality of all documents thoroughly before putting them online. Badly written or translated documents will sabotage your attempts to attract and keep a high readership for your site.
Whatever you do, do NOT publish low-quality texts just for the sake of “having something on our site”.
Ways to keep your content fresh for readers:
- Feature a column - updated daily, and with interesting content: this gives casual visitors a reason to visit again.
- Regularly introduce new subtopics within your main topic - so users can be constantly re-engaged.
- Respond quickly to user feedback and take it seriously.
- Use email alerts or e-magazines to tell subscribers what's new. But don't send too much, this is counterproductive. And always reassure users that you are not passing on any personal data or details to third parties.
- Tidy housekeeping - update regularly.
Users want up-to-the minute information, so update regularly and thoroughly - delete or archive old material, correct dead links and check your content to make sure it reflects changes and new events.
Maintaining a website properly takes time. So when you plan your site, keep in mind that a relatively small site with up-to-date content is much better than many long and outdated pages.
You will also need procedures for senior management to quickly - but thoroughly - check and approve material to be published.
Depending on the type of site, you might need to look at it every hour, day, week or month. The absolute minimum should be a twice a year.
So apart from the initial cost (man hours/outside resources, etc.) of creating your site, allow for regular additional costs/resources for its upkeep. It will depend on the type of site and information presented, subject area, political importance, etc.