Posted Tuesday, July 27, 2004
If you are anything like me, your website is a reflection of yourself. It contains your thoughts and communications, exposed to the entire world at all times. Look at virtually any non-commercial web site and you will get a glimpse at the person behind the monitor.
I look at web sites all day long, and I am constantly amazed by the things that people reveal about themselves without saying anything. Is the website well organized or just a jumble of images and text thrown up at a moments notice? Is the site alive with color or just dull and lifeless black and white? Is the site exploding at the seams with content or is it just a collection of ads, banners or links?
All of these and many other clues tell me more about the webmaster than any of those 50 question psychological quizzes.
One clue that tells me more than anything else is whether or not the site is kept up-to-date. Sometimes I will see a beautiful web page - a work of art that comes from the heart and soul of a human being. I fall in love with the page and want to learn more, then click on a link and bam, page not found. I shrug, as every webmaster has a bad link now and then. Click on another, and another, and more than half of the links are dead. I sigh, then move on.
Or I'm reading wonderful stories about a person's life experiences and find, well, these are all years out of date. A little looking around the site and I find that nothing has been updated since 1997. I always feel a little sad when I see this - it's as if something inside the webmaster died. I wonder, did she grow tired of it all? Get married and lose interest? Perhaps even died? Who knows, there is no clue on the site at all. It's just ... abandoned.
Another clue to a neglected site - the person created a webring and got several hundred people to join. The ring is obviously a creation of love as it's not easy to get so many sites to join up. The ring graphics are wonderful, the join page is beautifully written, and I am actually very impressed. I start to surf the ring and quickly find that over half the sites no longer exist. Another dozen have removed the ring code. How sad. It's one thing to lose interest in a webring ... but to just abandon it? I wonder what changed in a person's life caused this work of love and community to just be discarded so easily.
Or it could be that a person and simply doesn't update their site very often. There is a wonderful comic book site which is simply beautiful, yet sometimes months go by without a single update! It's so frustrating as I really am intrigued and want to come back to visit this guy's private world. I haven't checked in a long time - why bother, since the site is updated so infrequently?
My feeling is simple. Create the best website that you can with the knowledge that you have. You will never be finished, as there will always be more to say and show. You are a living, breathing human and you are learning more every day. Thus, there should always be something of value that you can add to your web site.Presumably, you've created your web site to communicate something to the rest of the world. It could be that you want to write up your life story, explain about the mythology of the Greeks and Romans, or simply compile a list of the best blonde jokes. It's possible that you even want to make a few dollars now and then by selling a nice product. Why settle for just getting someone to read what you've got to say and move on? Why not continually update your message so that your readers come back time after time to find out what new and wonderful things you've posted this week.
Think you've said everything that can be said about your subject? There are many options to this method of continual updates. You could add a message board to start virtual conversations with your visitors. Or perhaps you could add a weekly column (and associated ezine) to get people to come back. Even if you've said everything there is to say, perhaps you can add pictures, sound and videos or change the layout or presentation.
Be sure and let people know what's new by including a "What's New" section right on your front page. This serves to your visitors right to the new content immediately. It also lets them know that you are updating the site all of the time, which means they will want to come back again and again just to see what you have written or changed.
A periodic ezine is another way to stay in contact with your readers, letting them know what's going on at your special website. Another great way to get people to come back is to become active in newsgroups or email discussion lists (such as egroups and topica). By posting useful information at these places you will get people wanting to come to your site to find out what else you've got to say.
Which, of course, leads back to the original premise of this article. If you want people to come back to your site, you had better be keeping it up-to-date, accurate and adding new content all of the time. Otherwise, your readers will grow tired and move on to greener pastures.
And that's the saddest thing of all ... an abandoned creation of love and passion.
About The Author
Richard Lowe Jr. is the webmaster of Internet Tips And Secrets. This website includes over 1,000 free articles to improve your internet profits, enjoyment and knowledge.
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Claudia Arevalo-Lowe is the webmistress of Internet Tips And Secrets and Surviving Asthma. Visit her site at (http://survivingasthma.com)