Four Ways Websites Can Nurture Long-Term Relationship with Users

Posted on December 19, 2011 by
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Maintaining a long term relationship can be tricky, things can become stale easily. Personality and looks are essential in developing first attraction; however we need much more from a serious, prolonged relationship. Things like simplicity and reward can help to create a long-lasting and strong bond. Both factors dance on a delicate equilibrium and each has reciprocating effects on one another. A very simple relationship often offers only dulled rewards, however, a very complicated one may break more easily. You should achieve a harmony between the two and build a momentum that can maintain a strong relationship.

Simplicity and rewards can create a wave of satisfaction and people simply want to ride with it. Select brands and online businesses have made huge wave by implementing these simple principles. Let’s examine these factors:

Simplicity

Web designers can encourage sophisticated relationships between users and the website by using simplicity. For example, it’s perfectly possible to have a long-distance relationship; however the geographical restriction adds a complexity to the relationship. On the other hand, your relationship may flourish if the person moves across the street. Similarly, your online store should offer simplicity by simulating the experience users get from a store located near their homes, for example by making it simple and very easy to browse products, place an order and send payment. In any relationship, difficulty is inevitable and a bond unlikely survives continuous strife. People tend to gravitate to those who are very easy to get along with. Just like love relationship, your website should also include harmony of beliefs, smooth conversational flow, geographical proximity and others.

Simplicity is even more an important factor when it comes to choosing a product. Our evaluation on product simplicity is usually more fickle than with people. It’s especially true on an online environment where options are plentiful and transactions can be completed in just a few clicks away. Designers have the responsibility to ensure that users can get frictionless user experience. We often mistake complexity as sophistication, as the result website interfaces and product features can have extraneous features. Web designers should realize that a real sophisticated experience can transform complexity into simplicity instead of accentuating it. You can sum up simplicity using the following facts:

  • Sophisticated relationships are always simple
  • To measure simplicity of your website, you can use the friction analysis
  • Online success relies on eliminating frictions that can degrade user experience.

Reward

Relationships should be exciting, especially during first stages of courtship. Your website should have a clear hierarchy of rewards. People have desire to reap the satisfaction, the greater the desire the more intense the satisfaction. Website owners should build users’ satisfaction, for example by promising something they lack and want as rewards. Real-life and online ads often use attractive human models, especially those with favorable physical attributes as a way to subtly outline common deficits average people may have. By paralleling a product with favorable conditions or results, you can raise the perceived satisfaction level of a product. Website owners and online advertisers should always try to unveil something consumers lack to trigger the emotion of desire.

You can increase the perceived satisfaction in your website by incorporating challenges. People love good challenge. Some websites use Flash games and quiz as a way to offer exciting challenges to users. Competitive sports, puzzles and video games are all inessentials; however we gladly add them into our daily lives. Defeating an opponent, whether abstract (such as solving an online puzzle) or more concrete (such as another sports team) can bring satisfaction. However, you need to carefully manage ‘challenges’, because they add complexity to your website. As you increase the difficulty level of the challenge, desire will also rise accordingly, however it rises only to a certain point. You should determine the point where the difficulty outweighs the anticipation and starts to cause frustration. You shouldn’t have any frustrating element in your website, as it can easily flip the desire for satisfaction and reward into angry desire for the demise of your website. You can sum up rewards into the following facts:

  • Reward increases engagement, however, it is only useful if the anticipated satisfaction is bigger than the difficulty involved.
  • The difficulty level of a challenge can raise the anticipated satisfaction only to a certain point. The threshold will eventually break and can quickly flip satisfaction to frustration.
  • You can invoke the desire to achieve perfection by subtly outlining users’ deficits in ads
  • Exciting challenges in website encourage participation and help to build long-term relationship with users.

Fragility

Love can break easily. Regardless of the tremendous amount of effort and time put into a long-term relation, it may remain fragile. Even if you have a seemingly solid relationship with website users, you should make all efforts to preserve it, you need to tailor the website operation around users, give them freebies to show that you are care and even willing to sacrifice for their sake. The possibility that a relationship might end up suddenly, should put you in a state of preservation and caring. In general, fragility fosters a worship mentality and strengthens relationship.

Planned obsolescence

It is a technique to deliberately specify the lifespan of a product, which may hook people into making repeat purchases once a product is deemed obsolete or useless. This method is nothing new. In fact, planned obsolescence is the driving force behind innovation and continued profitability, from fashions to gadgets, since early 20th century. In more extreme cases, manufacturers prevent you from using a product for too long, for example, Li-ion batteries used in many mobile devices have integrated circuits in them that put a limit on the number of times users can recharge the battery. Although the battery still performs well, the integrated circuits restrict further usages. Software companies also always employ this technique to allow them add new features through versioning.

The web design world is also affected by perceived obsolescence, just like other hi-tech industries, it also evolves rapidly; a technology that was hip a few years ago may already be obsolete this year. People may say “What? Your website is still based on XHTML, not HTML5!? Gasp!”

You may consider planned obsolescence as a dirty practice, but if you’re a technology junkie you will appreciate new cutting edge devices that are released almost weekly. If you are selling products online, you may need to include planned obsolescence as a part of your long-term strategy. When executed properly, this technique can maintain a stronger relationship between your website and customers. Use teaser pages on upcoming products to build expectation and desire among users. It’s also important to maintain a balance between simplicity and reward when using this technique. Planned obsolescence adds complexity to your online operation and upgrading to a latest product is essentially an inconvenience, so make sure the rewards can sustain an acceptable level of perceived satisfaction. Often, you should still put the decision making process in the hand of users, it is generally a bad idea to force an upgrade, as it may cause a frustration. If your future product promises a significant amount of rewarding experience, there’s no need to force people to upgrade. You may sum up planned obsolescence using the following facts:

  • Planned and unplanned obsolescence drives progress and nurture relationship.
  • Planned obsolescence should be handled carefully to maintain user loyalty without causing frustration.

Conclusion

Relationship is complex and consisted of many puzzle pieces. Good relationships should be maintained, while bad ones must be tossed aside. Relationships websites make with users run parallel with the contents, products and service offered. To ensure your own survival in the market, you may need to have a brand that can nurture strong, long-term relationship with users. The Internet is a very prolific matchmaker. Web designers, Web developers and other digital mavens should understand the importance of relationship for their career. Customers desire useful and sexy products, while web designers often need to act as unofficial marketers by coming up with ways to spark the initial interest by using the right design. However, your web design should be much broader than just visuals, to maintain long-term relationship, it should be an ongoing experience and interactive. Your website, brand and products should be irresistible enough that your customers are willing to ‘marry’ them.

About: This Article was written by Raja. He is a Web Hosting industry watcher and writes regularly on Dedicated Hosting Reviews and Reseller Hosting Reviews.

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