Everyone knows that for your website to be successful, you need to please your visitors. Your site needs to be easy to use, and must meet the needs and wants of your visitors if you are to retain them. If you make your site too basic though, you risk alienating your regular, long term members.
Keep it simple, but interesting
Your website needs to be simple and easy to use. Your navigation should be consistent, and every feature of your site should be intuitive. By keeping your site simple, you are ensuring that every first time visitor can access and understand all the features of your site from the beginning. It is no good having a wealth of complicated features if new visitors have no idea how to use them – if you do this, you’ll never increase your membership base.
Just because you need to keep your site simple, it doesn’t mean you can’t offer additional features. After all, if you keep your site too basic, your existing members may get bored and move on to other communities that are evolving with their members.
Advanced features do not need to be complicated
You should always be adding new features to your website, or at least be researching new features that you feel would be beneficial to your community. You need to ensure that any new feature you add is easy to use, though. Try out a new feature before releasing it publicly – see it through the eyes of a first time visitor. Make sure that every aspect is intuitive and can be used without having to trawl through a lengthy help or ‘FAQ’ section.
The best features of your site will be powerful but simple to use – you are constantly balancing on a tightrope between pleasing your regular, advanced users and making things as simple as possible for first time visitors.
Keep advanced features optional
Advanced features should only ever be optional. Not every member or visitor to your website will necessarily be interested in using advanced features – only a minority of your members may actually be interested in getting to know and understand anything more than the basic features needed to use your site.
If you force your members to learn and use advanced features, your site may become a little overwhelming for new members and first time visitors. The last thing you want to do is scare these people away – you need to please the long term members but keep your site intuitive for the newbies!
Keep the learning curve shallow
When you introduce new features, your members should be able to learn how to use them relatively quickly. You don’t want to confuse your members by suddenly introducing a fantastic feature that takes hours to learn. Every aspect of your site should be intuitive and easy to use, but don’t use this as an excuse to stop developing new features for your site.
You need to keep your current members happy by continuing to evolve your community, but you also need to continue attracting new members by keeping your site as simple and easy to use as possible. If you ignore this fact, you will never be able to please all your site’s visitors.