I want to share with you what I consider the best Web site tool to help keep readers engaged on your Web site. But first, some comments about Web site stickiness.

When referring to Web sites, stickiness is defined as the amount of time spent on a site over a given period of time. The longer you can keep readers on your Web site or blog, the more information they can get and the better the chances they will contact you for business.

I want to share with you what I consider the best Web site tool to help keep readers engaged on your Web site. But first, some comments about Web site stickiness.

When referring to Web sites, stickiness is defined as the amount of time spent on a site over a given period of time. The longer you can keep readers on your Web site or blog, the more information they can get and the better the chances they will contact you for business.

Sticky Web sites also increase the percentage of repeat visitors, another variable that leads to greater conversion. If visitors hit and run from your site, they probably won’t be back.

Getting sticky

So what makes a Web site sticky? Certainly, it’s part layout, logical navigation, interactivity, look and feel, and the absence of clutter and distracting elements, such as pop-up ads. This is what I’d call good design.

But many would argue the ultimate sticky element is good content. I agree (it might even trump good design — I’d drive through the worst neighborhood, with bad directions, to find the restaurant with the best food, even if they served it on paper plates).

But I do not like the term "good content" (and the equally useless "content is king") because it communicates nothing to me. What the heck is good content anyway? While we’re on the subject, good content must be interesting ("Wow, that’s interesting"), informative ("Gee, I didn’t know that"), comprehensive ("Gosh, there’s more to this than I realized"), and engaging ("Marge, you have to see this 3-D floor plan walk-through").

Good content must also be easy to locate. If a reader can’t easily find your interesting, informative, comprehensive and engaging content, the reader assumes you don’t have it. The result: hit and run.

But there is an element to good Web design and good content that is inherently "unsticky" (Is that a word?) — the link. Links are designed to take readers away to other pages and oftentimes to other Web sites.

These may be links to news articles, press releases, surveys and studies, videos, reference sources, etc. While all of these links contribute in adding content for the benefit of your reader, they carry them off your Web site.

Which leads me to the object of this post — the ultimate sticky tool to keep readers on your Web site, despite links. It’s called Apture, and established mainstream media news publishers like Reuters, The Washington Post and The New York Times are using it to keep readers engaged on their Web sites. Yep.

What is Apture?

Apture is a simple plug-in that easily integrates into many publishing platforms. It lets you easily add (embed) multimedia content in linked layers, so readers can explore all of your linked content without leaving your site. The various content is added via Apture’s Media Hub and "super links."

Apture has redefined the notion of hyperlinking. Rather than a link whisking your reader away to another Web site (where other links can send them down rabbit holes, far away from you), an Apture link keeps readers on your page. …CONTINUED

Instead of sending readers to the link content, Apture immediately brings the link content to the reader in the comfort of your blog or Web site. And here’s something really neat — links within the linked-to pages also open up on the same page. Truly amazing to see.

What related content can you embed via Apture’s Media Hub?

Plenty:

  • Google Maps.
  • Wikipedia pages and other reference sources.
  • Videos.
  • Photos and images.
  • Music.
  • News stories.
  • Twitter conversations.
  • External links to any Web page.
  • Content from your computer, including PowerPoint, Excel spreadsheets, PDF and Microsoft Word documents, slideshows and widgets.

Apture has a search box to help you find any of the above content.

Here’s a screenshot showing the design of Apture’s Media Hub:

The best part: Apture is free (so long as you have fewer than 5 million visitors per month).

Apture Inc. is a privately held company headquartered in San Mateo, Calif.

I’ve been using Apture for about a year. It continues to improve and add features. This screenshot (below) gives you a sense of the rapture of Apture:

Joseph Ferrara is publisher of the Sellsius Real Estate Blog and a partner in TheClozing.com, a real estate news aggregator site. He is an attorney with 25 years of experience in New York, and he also coaches agents on the use of blogging and social networking.

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