What keeps users coming back to your Web site? Compelling content? Fast Performance? Cool site design? The answer is “yes”.
To use the three-legged stool analogy, the components (legs) supporting Web site engagement are:
- Content – Unique, compelling content that attracts users
- Design – Visually appealing, easy to navigate design
- Performance – Quick page load response time
Success in all three is needed to keep users coming back. Failure in any can drive them away.
Often, focus is placed on a single component – because it’s easy to measure – and assumed to be a proxy for the others. Not so. Measuring user engagement is a complex task.
Microsoft is doing some great work in this area with their Experimentation Platform.
So it looks like MS is doing A/B testing? I think there’s a general undervaluing of the “design” aspect in the industry. Aside from a handful of sites that have unique enough content to overcome other aspects, the majority of the successes in the last year or two have been based on design. FaceSpace? Lets you connect with friends in an easy and orderly manner. Digg, Meebo, Delicious, Flickr… they all succeed(ed) because they give the users what they want in sleek package that’s easy to use, functional and not annoying to look at.