A sticky website is a site that keeps people engaged and entices them to hang around your site for longer than usual. It’s “sticky” because people don’t want to leave, or at least they do more than hit your page and click the back button.

It’s important to have a sticky website. The Internet is filled with thousands of websites all competing for your attention. Creating a website that encourages users to stick around and explore, gives you more time to convey your marketing messages to an engaged visitor. Sticky websites also generally encourage repeat visits. This will allow you to deliver richer, more personalised experiences for your audience. Sticky websites will, overall, have a higher conversion rate than those where there is little to hold interest long enough to make an impact.

How can I tell if my website is sticky?

There are two main indicators of whether or not your site is sticky enough to be successful.

Firstly, look at your bounce rate. This is the percentage of people that leave your website after only looking at one page. You want this to be as low as possible. It’s important to keep in mind that some businesses might have a high bounce rate by nature. A breaking news site, for example, will capture people who just want to check the headlines on the first page before leaving. This will obviously result in a higher bounce rate. However, most businesses should aim for a 25% bounce rate or lower.

You can also determine your website’s stickiness by the looking at the number of pages people view when they visit (otherwise known as “page views per visit”). This indicates how useful your website is at providing information people want. Lower than average page views (2 or less) will probably require you to work on your content and find our what your audience actually wants from your site.

In order to achieve stickiness, a site needs to have certain qualities.

Use familiar web design elements and keep an eye on your site speed

If you arrive at a website and have no idea how to navigate, it can be really off putting. Sure, it’s exciting and fun to be creative with how your site is navigated and structured, but it’s best to stick to basic principles or tried and tested methods. Browsing through different pages within your site should be easy and fast. If the site looks complicated or difficult to browse through, users will try to avoid it as they will consider it a waste of time.

Evidence suggests web pages are scanned by users in a F shape, where the eyes typically scan across the page twice and then down. Therefore, it makes sense to keep navigation consistent across the top of and page and down the left-hand side. Basically, just try to make your users’ lives easier by creating a solid UI that is intuitive and makes sense. Your visitors should at least be able to navigate your website before you try to add anything too clever or innovative!

Similarly, try and keep your page load speed to a minimum. The amount of time it takes for a site to load is a major contributing factor to page abandonment. If your site takes too long to load, your users will go elsewhere, that’s a fact. Modern internet users are impatient and they want information immediately. If your site’s loading speed is on the slow side, that’s the stickiness gone right there. Google’s PageSpeed Insights will give you an idea of the speed of your site and tips on how to improve this.

Implement strong, clear copy and fresh content

Getting your message across quickly is an important consideration when writing copy. Most of the time, your visitors will see the headline of the page and have a quick read of any following text or sub headings. This also represents how Search Engines will crawl and read your page. So relevant, concise copy is key.

If your visitors are unable to find the information they want, quickly, they’ll leave and look elsewhere for it. If you provide the information your users are looking for in a concise and digestible format, they’ll reward you by browsing more of your site and engaging with your business.

But optimising your website for stickiness isn’t just about encouraging new visitors to stick longer than usual. You’ll also need to consider how to get your returning visitors to hang around for a while too. Luckily, this is a little easier. If you have a returning visitor, we can safely say that they liked what they saw and experienced in a past visit. But if they do come back for more, there’s a strong chance it’s because they’ll want to see and experience something new. The same goes for restaurants never changing their menu, or retailers selling exactly the same clothes. The likelihood is that repeat visitors would be low, and it’s no different to websites.

If you want visitors to keep returning to your site, and then stick around, you need to offer them a fresh experience each time. This could mean anything from updating your homepage, adding exciting new products, or producing new content for your blog.

Empower your website visitors and encourage contribution

The internet has changed. We now live in a world where most people are confident web users. They want to interact with a website, either through social networking, commenting or interactive tools. Humans are social creatures by nature, meaning they’ll want to share information and opinions. But don’t simply throw information at your visitors, find a way to actively engage them. Help your users by providing tools to help themselves. Things like comparison tools and online booking forms all give your users something to ‘play with’. With this interactive content, your visitors will feel an increased sense of attachment to your website and are more likely to share their experience with friends.

You could simply add social share buttons to your site, or allow customers to comment or leave reviews on your products or services. User-generated content not only helps to build a sense of community among your users and encourages interaction, but it will improve your credibility the more shares and positive reviews you receive. The more you build your credibility, the more repeat visitors you’ll get.

Creating a sticky website that users will want to visit and hang around on isn’t just about the design. Having a pretty site certainly helps, but looks alone aren’t going to get you very far. You’ll also need your website to be easy to use, is seamless across all devices and offers fresh and exciting experiences to everyone who arrives there. Basically, create an awesome website and users will be more inclined to visit, explore and return.