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What drives repeat visitors to your website?

Publishing on the web is often characterized as a leap into the unknown. People involved in traditional media, such as newspapers, magazines and television, are sometimes considered unsuitable to design websites. The assumption behind all this is that the technical aspects of web publishing make it entirely unique. That's why, in many companies large and small, the person in charge of the intranet hails from a technical, rather than a marketing background. Interestingly, some new research from Forrester Research shows that this approach to web publishing is doomed to failure.

What do customers want from your web site?

There are, of course, many new aspects to web publishing, but these are almost exclusively user interface issues. The underlying issue—what do customers want, and how can we get them back?—is the same no matter how you publish information. An answer to this question is provided by some recent work by Forrester Research Inc. Forrester interviewed 8.600 web-using households to find out why people return to websites. Cutting-edge technology? Games? Chat and BBS? Customizable content? No. High-quality content was key, closely followed by ease of use. A plot of their results is shown below.

Graph showing that high quality content and ease of use come top of customers requirements

The two top-rated items—content and ease of use—leads inevitably to the suggestion that the much-trumpeted New Media is simply old media in new bottles. The "new bottle" in this metaphor is the user interface: the structure and layout of your website, the presentation of information and the way the site is tuned to meet customer needs. So to get our customers to revisit, we need good content based on the skills learnt by people working in "Old Media"; but now presented according to solid usability principles.


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Last modified on 27 june 2004

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