Ever wondered what makes certain sites ‘click’ with web surfers, who then appear to get ‘hooked’ to these with regular visits? Such sites offer something of interest to the visitors with a quick user interface, who then return for updates and more information. A few stray thoughts on the factors at work behind the scenes here.

Latest news and updates: A site that gives latest updates and news on the home page appears to be ‘alive’ and ‘breathing’. It implies background monitoring and maintenance, and that one is not looking at outdated information.

Coverage and details: A detailed presentation of facts, specifications and a coverage of various aspects of the topic mean some amount of research has gone into writing such features and making the site. The copy-paste masters do manage to create a false impression of depth, though.

Comments and criticism: Personal views, reviews and comments instantly create an impression on us, especially when they are critical in nature. Giving a perspective, a point of view to news, issues and topics gives websites a ‘human’ touch, such that one feels like coming back again and again to find out more. All blogs are interesting to read for this reason.

Themes and orientation: A website with an ‘attitude’ appears more ‘living’ and real. It could be fun, whacky, serious and formal, ‘happening’, cool and relaxed, literary and intellectual, etc. This comes out in its content and design – as in what topics are chosen and how they are presented.

Some examples:

Msn.com offers search services with loads of latest information of interest to viewers with diverse backgrounds. Its Indian version focuses more on movies and lifestyle topics that are always in demand. The site presents a tremendous amount of text, images and links in neat boxes that makes it easy for a visitor to scan and locate what they are looking for. The recently introduced users’ contribution section attracts a good traffic each day. Its a popular and ‘happening’ site.

Forums attract a good amount of visitors with their focus on comments and criticism. Sulekha.com, a site that aims to connect Indians across the world, offers interactive services that attract good traffic with its blogs and other features.

These are some of the website features that appeal to me as a surfer on the web. Once a site has won my trust, it makes me go back to it whenver there is a need to look out for reliable and true information.