Here is a quick list of components that make a website attractive. They are listed in layers of attractiveness beginning with the "must" haves, to "nice to haves."
1. State the website's purpose up front and clearly of the site. Do this as quickly as possible. The visitor needs to know immediately if they have landed on the right site. They also need to know "what’s in it for me to stay here." If you don't provide this, they are gone. 90% of the sites on the Net don't do this.
2. Give visitors the ability to search for exactly what they are looking for, if they have something exact in mind. A "site search feature" satisfies this best. Allow the search feature to be prominently displayed and not hidden away somewhere. It is best place in the navigational system so that it shows up on every page. Sales letter only websites are an exception to this rule. Return visitors and visitors that have something specifically in mind, want the option and ability to find what they want fast. So give it to them.
3. Photos allow connection. Especially to people who process visually. Clip art gets them to pay attention, however, it doesn't create much of a connection. Personal photos connect within reason. Keep them less than three to a page. One photo always needs to be in the top portion of the screen on the first page. It doesn't need to be large, but attractive.
4. Ways to capture visitors information wherever possible.
5. Place items on the site that keep them lingering. Audio and video are one of these, yet there are other less time consuming and inexpensive ways to keep them entertained.
6. Articles. For solopreneur sites, your own written articles. For other sites, articles with various authors yet on focus.
7. Interactive elements. For example: response forms, quizzes
8. If you use a shopping cart, it must be fluid, no hiccups. PayPal is not a shopping cart, it’s a hiccup. All auto responders must be well written and positive. If someone purchased something, they need the energy of "thank you."
9. Give offers that are of value.
10. Clear path of where a newcomer can start if it is their first visit.
11. Newsletter that is consistent with the 80/20 rule. 80% value and 20% marketing.
12. E-courses of value.
13. Well-written e-books: 50-75 pages, plus valuable information (info not found anywhere else). Length doesn't do more than provide perceptive value. Once purchased and the vastness is only fluff, then your credibility is shot. Complimentary e-books meet the same requirements.
14. Give them other ways to receive more on...you if you are the focus...or the information if that is the focus.
15. Automated referral system. If you want referrals for your products or services, make it easy for you to get them. Set it up so it’s as automatic as possible, and clear and easy for someone to send you a referral. Be clear on what and how you want to give for that referral.
Catherine Franz is a Marketing & Writing Coach, niches, product development, Internet marketing, nonfiction writing and training http://www.abundancecenter.com.