Having trouble getting your target audience involved with your website? New research from Penn State University has isolated secrets for webdesign success: key features that keep your customers coming back for more: gadgets, blogging, and cosmetic customization.

Gadgets and Widgets

If you are allowing your users to customize their experience with your website, gadgets and widgets are a simple addition that improves their interactivity. With these little buttons and code snippets, the users can create filters to show only certain types of comment, or display news and other features unique to their area or tastes.

Blogging Platform

Adding blogging to your user interface doesn’t mean that you need to turn your company’s website into Blogger – just offer users the ability to add status updates, a la Facebook or Twitter. When users are able to provide information about their activities, and keep up with the updates of others, they’re more likely to keep coming back to the page.

Be aware, however, that not all types of blogging provide equal results in this area. Lead researcher Dr. Sundar, distinguished Professor of Communications and co-director of the Media Effects Research Laboratory, explained in a private interview that personal updates were much more effective than share-style updates, such as thumbs-up, Like, or other types of sharing, when it came to increasing interactivity and time on site.

Webdesign Secrets: Cosmetic Changes For Users

Changing the color scheme or font of a webpage may not seem like a big deal, but making those small cosmetic changes can result in a degree of personalization that brings the user back to the page for future updates. Pride of ownership, when the user has designed her personalized page, will increase promotion among peers as well, and promotion via word-of-mouth is both free and priceless.

Promoting Your Business With an Engaging Web Presence

If you design an engaging web portal, including customization options such as blogging, cosmetic changes, and gadgets or widgets, be sure to avoid too many options. According to Penn State University, “offering too many choices may frustrate or fatigue users.” It’s basically decision overload – when there are too many options, your users will just shut down and avoid interacting at all.

Your goal: a moderate level of options, to provide a personalized experience for your users, that will keep them coming back for more. As the users spend more time on your site, they become a receptive audience for company updates, information about new services and products, and even promotional items such as coupons or sales events. Clearly, better web interaction is a win-win proposition.