By Joshua Lucas

Issue # 13

Wednesday, June 3, 1998


Keeping the customer's attention is one of the most important objectives of a web site. When the site is new, it is very easy to keep the customer interested because everything is waiting there to be discovered. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your point of view), once people begin to come back to your site again and again, the newness wears off and boredom with the site can set in. The solution is to always be on the lookout for new content and new features.

One of the easiest ways to keep fresh content on your site is to have a section for industry news. For example, if Bill (our fictional hardware store owner) wanted to add some news to his site, he could look for things like the latest product announcements, legislation which might affect construction workers, and various other pieces of news which would easily interest any potential customer to enter his store.

The key is to be alert and receptive to new information. Think about putting some sort of news section in your site and updating it at least once a week. If your industry has relevant daily news, think about updating the section more than once a week. Of course, you'll have to deal with the design company who worked on the site to find out what their plans are in terms of updating.

Another way to add more content and features to your site is to create an 'About the Company' section. This will give your customers a chance to learn more about who is actually behind the business. Most of the time, web sites have a detached feeling when it comes to actual human contact.

One of the coolest things about the Sideroad is that all of the columnists have their pictures beside their work. Why? Because the editors want to show you that the writers (including yours truly) is a real, live person who doesn't live in an computer generated ivory tower. Don't be afraid to share some of your interests with your visitors, even though they might not have anything to do with work.

"Lucas, Joshua Lucas". . .writes for a living. By day he writes software, and by night he weaves words. Josh has coded in Java, C, C++, and Perl for some of the hippest and most recognizable companies in the US, including The Gap, Starbucks, Nike, and Nordstroms. Josh's rich experience, coupled with his diligent daily research, places him as close to the "cutting edge" as you can get without falling off. He and his wife recently moved from Los Angeles, CA to Boston, MA.

What new sections and features have you thought about adding? Look around the Web and in traditional media for news you can add, whether itīs from a newspaper or directly from your business.

If you do gather your information from an outside news source, be careful not to step on anyone's copyrights!

And don't forget to keep sending me topics you'd like to learn more about!

Don't let your "About the Company" section be just a resume. By including facts and background bits you can "humanize" your site considerably. It's all about making your customers feel more comfortable. Show them they are dealing with a real human being who has many of the same interests as they do.

Think about including your employees in this section as well. It's a great team-building experience, and will allow your employees to get to know each other even better. You'll also communicate to your customers just how important each individual employee is to you and the store (and you'll instill a further sense of pride in your employees, to boot.)

When a site becomes successful it is very easy to think the job is done. However, the reality is that if you don't keep offering the customer fresh content, they will not bother coming back and a successful site can quickly turn into a deserted one.

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Text Copyright © 1998, Joshua Lucas. Part of the original Sideroad.
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