How to Make a Website Work


A study released in February by Zogby found that consumers between the ages of 18 and 29 are the most likely, at 55%, to get their news and entertainment online. Those sites continue to boom, but new companies entering this segment may find moving online tricky. Here are tips to help you succeed.

Consider using open-source software. Entertainment Websites need expansive video integration, ad targeting and SEO optimization. Your site will need a content management system that organizes all this data on your site. Entertainment sites require a flexible management interface that is easily customizable, but these interfaces are often costly. If you are just starting your site, pay attention to your initial budget for site build-out—and stick with it. One way to get flexible technology and cost saving is to consider open-source programming.

“Open source” refers to programming technology with source code that is available for public use or adaptation from its original design for free. Using an open-source content management system saves our clients with entertainment sites an average of $50,000 in up-front costs. This also means their development budget will go further, allowing them to improve site design and user experience.

As your site expands, proprietary (not open-source) technology will require the purchase of additional licenses every time your staff increases. Again, saving on additional licenses can save your company $35,000 to $50,000.

Consider using AJAX programming. AJAX (asynchronous JavaScript and XML) Web development technology is becoming the de facto standard for many Web 2.0 sites—including television Websites.

AJAX Web pages resemble desktop applications—they contain a number of different windows or bubbles and pull-down menus that independently update from each other at a user's request.

This means entire Web pages do not need to be reloaded every time a user clicks or searches. The active AJAX windows run “over” Web pages, allowing users searching the site faster access to information without having to click through multiple pages or wait for downloads.

AJAX enables up-to-the-second sports scores, or video footage and easily searchable content windows. And unlike Flash, AJAX programming is easily optimized for search engines. So your site design can be easily improved.

Create a community. The best way to connect with your audience while capturing important data about their consumer preferences is to create a community. While you may think getting advertisers on your site and generating revenue should come first, getting traffic on your site is actually more important—and traffic is all about engagement.

Retention programs that include e-mail and mobile contacts are great ways to register, engage and stay in touch with your members. Most heavy site users will register willingly if your Website supports different ways to access content.

Add a dash of user-generated content. When news was new to the Web, one of the most important aspects of any “television” Website was selling the most highly promoted and highly viewed portions of the newscast. Not so anymore. Particularly for younger users, user-generated content (UGC) is a major draw to their favorite Internet sites. With promotions that feature amateur photos of celebrities taken on cellphones by community members or a daily vote from registered users on the top five stories of the day, UGC media keeps consumers coming back to entertainment Websites, facilitating your advertisers' branding efforts by generating impressions.

Give your community members a voice. UGC and social media are misunderstood by people outside of the Web. It's less about the quality of the content and more about consumer ownership of the content, which not only brings them back, but engenders more trust within a given community, providing greater engagement. Adding an avenue for your consumers to voice their opinion on your entertainment site will automatically increase their engagement.

Keep up with the latest in video technology. A December 2007 study by BurstMedia found that Websites featuring entertainment and entertainment video content are favored by the all-important 25-34 market segment. In fact, online entertainment video content was favored overall by all respondents in the survey.

You would be surprised how many media sites do not have video integration, or do a poor job with it. Whether you are streaming live video from show or another event, or running video clips of interviews, consumers now expect to see breaking news coverage. Utilizing the best forms of video engagement will keep your users coming back.