I know, I know…. Some of you are shaking your heads now and saying I guess John has run out of things to talk about. Seriously, we all know that you want to keep your web site dynamic and fresh. We all know that those web sites where the content never changes are about as exciting as watching paint dry.
I have had some fun building out the web site for The Lab and I am seeing web traffic steadily increase in spite of the end of summer slowdown that is typical in the Northern hemisphere this time of year. The formula, to date, is not perfect. The web site itself is far from perfect. However, take a look at some of the concepts I am playing with as you may be able to leverage some of these same concepts to keep your site fresh with minimal,and I mean minimal, time being spent in the process.
The home page
The first iteration of The Lab’s home page was a very short description of The Lab, an RSS feed from my blog, status updates from my Facebook fan page, and tweets from my Twitter account and that of The Lab’s. Talk about ugly… The only pluses to this was I was able to launch it fast and it was truly dynamic.
If you look at the page now you will see:
- An explanation of why The Lab exists. Is it perfect? No, I keep tweaking it daily, but it does at least give users some insights that they missed before.
- It includes links to the major areas: The Services page, the Products page, the bookstore, and The Social Ecosystem.
- Prominently displays a link join my mailing list. This placement came from user feedback. Listen to suggestions.
- A light-hearted but educational quick tour is available on the home page. As you explore these links you find a mix of information about The Lab and a chance to just hang out. Not sure what I mean, check out the tutorial pages for those that say they are just hanging out.
Note that I have adjusted language, placement, and complete sections almost every day since this site launched. I spend 10 minutes a day, max, on this page making singular adjustments, measure results, and keep adjusting.
Free Dynamic Features
Paper.li has a great solution (in beta) that enables you to generate a daily Twitter newspaper for the content generated in your network. Since the process of generating the paper is automated, including the automated e-mail to your community, you do not have to do any work to offer fresh content directly from your site for your audience to view. In fact, I have simply included my paper on The Lab’s site and I do see a solid number of readers stopping by to check it out.
My media page pulls in podcasts from my weekly radio show and includes video. I will need to work on creating more video on a regular basis, of course. However, even when I do so it will automatically pull from my YouTube channel, no extra work required. The same is true of the social feeds page which pulls in blog posts from this blog and twitter updates from The Lab. There is always something good to read.
Give people a chance to earn daily value from your web site, beyond content. Enter the Spotlight. Members of our mailing list can enter the weekly contest to be spotlighted by The Lab. If they receive the largest number of votes by the end of the day each Monday they will be spotlighted, having their story told. They are able to generate free buzz, free press, which could be a win for them. In return, The Lab increases the number of people on its mailing list while those in the spotlight poll assist The Lab in generating traffic to the site.
How well is it working? 109 votes placed since Wednesday. This is the first week of the Spotlight and this is just a baseline, of course. These 109 votes represent 109 visits to the site and roughly 3 times that number of page views. How much time have I spent generating this traffic? About an hour so far. Has it benefited The Lab in terms of revenue? Not yet but it has generated leads that I would not have otherwise.
Will these dynamic features pay off? They already are in terms of traffic growth and leads. Will this continue? Only time will tell, of course, but I will keep you updated.
John, what is your web platform. Are you hosting it internally? What software are you using to manage the site content?
For now keeping it simple and using the Register.com CMS web site software. While I am a coder (former CTO) I would prefer to focus on growing the business, not building a cool web site.
You’ve put together a good site for minimal effort … must be good software and apparently very flexible.
Thanks Sam. It handles what I need to accomplish now. Limitations are mostly due to my poor design skills, not the tool. For my business today it’s a no-brainer.
Thanks for sharing the paper.li – that is so very cool!