In a world where interactivity is a key component for the success of many businesses online, you have to make sure that you are doing everything that you possibly can to give your users additional reasons to return to your website. Interactivity not only provides you as the website owner with additional avenues in which you can deliver content to your users, but also allows you to give your users an avenue to create their own content as well. An interactive website helps your users to develop a more personal connection with their website, particularly when their interaction is publicly viewable (such as through a chat feature, comments section, or forum) because it allows them to contribute to the content and experience of others users.
There are many ways in which you, as a site owner, can increase the overall interactivity provided by your website. As a developer, using your skills to create innovative interactivity that is unique to your website should certainly be a goal – but there are many tried and true methods that can provide some excellent benefits as well. Consider some of the following methods for creating an interactive experience that your users will love, and offer a completely engaging experience to your users;
Forums, which are also known as message boards, are an age-old way to add interactivity to your website. Ask yourself whether or not the subject of your website is something that would warrant further discussion among your visitors. Certain subjects may not entice your visitors to register and share their opinion, while others will be perfect for it. As a developer, you can choose to create a custom message board solution, or use one of the many options (both free and paid) that are currently available on the open market. Some of the more popular message board and forum software that should be considered include;
Each of these message boards have their own unique benefits, features, and drawbacks. The one that you choose will depend heavily upon what you are looking for specifically, and how you envision your message board being used by your visitors. There are many reviews available for each of these forum solutions, which should help you to sift through the available options.
Like a forum, giving your users the ability to comment on your articles and content is a great way to improve the overall interactivity of your website. In some ways, adding a comment feature to your blog posts can actually be a more immersive experience, as it allows them to directly contribute their opinion on the subject that they have just read about. There are numerous plugins, extensions, and pieces of software that can help you to improve your comment section above and beyond the traditional style. These extensions might allow threaded discussion, social logins (such as through Facebook or Twitter), or voting features. Some of the more popular commenting extensions that are commonly used include;
These are among a handful of comment plugins that can help you to not only make it easier for your users to comment through the help of social logins, but also add additional features that can make the conversation easier to understand (through threading), and provide a better user interface.
Live Chat w/ Staff
For companies that own products, a live chat can be an excellent addition to a website. Giving your users the ability to immediately interact with a representative from your company gives them the opportunity to immediately ask questions, voice their concerns, and enjoy some peace of mind knowing that the company is working with them and available throughout the day. Many of the live chat solutions will allow you to chat with visitors through popular instant messaging programs. There are numerous plugins that can help you to chat with users that are currently viewing your website including;
Live Chat for Users
Although live chat solutions may not be appropriate for every website and their implementation will require some moderation on your part – certain subjects require continuous discussion, making an engaging live chat the perfect solution. This not only allows for your users to discuss your subject matter, but also allows them to build relationships with one another and foster a community environment. Some of the more popular live chat solutions that are available, creating chat rooms for your users and fostering interaction include;
These in conjunction with the various available Wordpress, Joomla and Drupal plugins can provide you with a simple and straightforward solution for providing a high level of interactivity on your website.
Presence on Social Media
As a business owner, you’ve probably heard the term ‘social presence’ parroted around on various internet marketing blogs and websites – but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t an essential interactivity tool for many businesses. The fact of the matter is that a large portion of your users will use some type of social media, whether it is Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or some combination of those social websites. Being active on these websites gives your users another avenue in which they can get into touch with you, helping you to interact with your user base and touch base with them on a regular basis.
If you haven’t already, start planning and outlining a newsletter that covers a variety of different subjects within your niche. Although not all users are interested in receiving email updates and information from their favorite websites, a good portion of them will be interested in receiving expanded content that may not be available from your website itself. A newsletter allows you to touch base with your users, remind them of your presence, and give them additional reasons to visit your website once again.
Although not all industries are suitable for podcasts, for niches that offer a lot of opportunities for expanded discussion – podcasts can be a great way to not only go over these additional topics, but also help your users to become more familiar with you as a website owners. Podcasts give your users an opportunity to call in and ask questions, gain additional information and analysis on a particular subject, and better understand your subject matter as a whole.
There are many ways in which you can increase the interactivity of your website. While you should look for innovative ways to increase interactivity that are unique to your website, you will find that many of the tried and true solutions may provide the results that you are looking for. In a world where web 2.0 solutions dominate the landscape, you can gain a serious edge of your competitors by inviting your users to join in on the content creation process.
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