Intelligent Design and Stickiness

Stickiness is the term we use that describes when visitors come to a site and come back again. If a blog has great stickiness, chances are that readers typically find very interesting things there and they bookmark it or subscribe to the feed. Most sites are not very sticky though. They may have moments of brilliance when a high profile link comes in, or a story gets Dugg and then – poof! The visitors disappear. Finding ways to make your blog sticky are important for growth.

Great content is the first and foremost way to create stickiness. There is no substitute for great content. Why does every John Grisham novel hit the New York Times Bestseller list? Because people love his writing and are drawn into his stories. Likewise, Techcrunch is sticky because the content that is going up is compelling for readers of Mike Arrington’s blog.

A secondary way of creating stickiness, and the focus of this entry, is by using intelligent design. Not that kind of intelligent design, though the metaphor of creating intelligent blogs instead of simply letting them transition from ape to human works in this scenario. WordPress plugins allow you to accomplish a whole lot of intelligent architectural things with your blog. Here we look at four plugins that will create intelligent design and stickiness on your blog.

Subscribe to Comments is a plugin created by our very own Mark Jaquith (long before he was our very own). Subscribe to Comments allows commenters to subscribe to a posts comments. In other words, everytime a new comment comes in on a post, they recieve an email with a link back to the story. In this way, conversation is maintained and people are reminded to come back. To me, this is the single most important plugin that every blog should have. Go ahead and comment on this entry and click the subscribe checkbox!

In Series is my latest favorite plugin. I’ve been using it here at Technosailor for a few months now. For people who write series of posts, as I do, this plugin will include a table of contents in every series post to the other posts in the series. Readers don’t have to click around to figure out where the next parts are and the cumbersome part of going back and manually editing each post in a series to provide links to the other parts is eliminated. This also provides a great automated way of internally linking boosting a blog’s SEO juice.

Landing Sites is one of those plugins that smacks you on the head and reminds you that you are a mere mortal. It “sniffs” where a visitor is coming from and if they come from search engines, it presents the visitor with possible other blog entries based on the search terms they were looking for. It’s all about giving options because maybe, just maybe, Google included a result that wasn’t really what the visitor was looking for. If you can provide the visitor options, then you increase the chance of stickiness.

Popularity Contest is a plugin that does as it sounds – it records popularity of posts. In this way, it’s easy to display, say in the sidebar, your 5 most popular posts for visitors to click through to. Putting your best foot forward is important for stickiness.