Jason Hansman helps run Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America and keeps people coming back with fresh content. Visit IAVA.
Sophie Martin went through a process of analyzing real data to see exactly how people were using their Main Page. Visit Duke City Fix.
How much time do you have to persuade a visitor to join your Ning Network before they hit the back button or move on to another Web page? Five seconds? When one of your members returns to your Ning Network, are they going to see the same static content? Or will they immediately see new blogs, discussions, photos, videos and profile comments that pull them in?
First, your Ning Network should load super fast. Not every member has access to high-speed Internet and we’ve found that slow load times lead to high exit rates. How fast are we talking about? Data shows you have about four seconds to make an impression. Second, don’t overwhelm your members with over-the-top design or lots of text above the fold (what a visitor will see in their browser before scrolling down). Instead, focus on showing all of the great new content and comments your members have recently posted above the fold. Make the content and features easy to find. If your members can’t find a reason to be on your Ning Network right away, you’ll lose them, maybe forever.
- Highlight your Activity Feed: The Activity Feed is what tells potential members that your Ning Network is an active, happening place. Highlighting it helps showcase what active, engaged members are contributing. And, our data shows that 40% of pageviews on Ning Networks happen on profile pages — so why not give your members an easy way to access them?
- Content above the fold: Remember when we said don’t make it all about you? Use the Feature option to highlight content contributed by your members. You can use the Feature option both to reward members who provide the best content and curate the content that’s posted to your Ning Network.
- Showcase your members: Just as your Activity Feed highlights your members’ recent activity, the Members module shows newcomers that interesting members have already signed up. Ning Networks like TuDiabetes place their Members module up high on the Main Page.
Don’t do this
- Make a massive header: Your header says a lot about what your Ning Network is about, but if it’s too big, it will push your content, activity and members below the fold. Make sure your header is small enough that your Ning Network’s great content is visible without scrolling.
- Use excessive Flash or embeds: Your Ning Network is only as fast as its slowest embed. Flash can look awesome if done right, but it can also slow down your Ning Network’s load time. Since data shows you have only four seconds to capture the attention of a prospective member, the faster your Ning Network loads, the better!