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How to Make Your Website More Interesting and Linkworthy

As the lines blur between Web Design, CRO, SEO, UX, UI, Content, and other disciplines there’s one thing that’s central to them all. Your website.

We all know that on site activities like reducing bounce rates and increasing time on site as well as off site factors like social sharing and links are all important if not crucial to your online success.

There’s so many opportunities to help encourage all of them, sometimes with very little effort, that I wanted to demonstrate some ways you can immediately benefit your site without having to rebuild or redesign it.

By making your site ‘interesting’ you make it (more) linkworthy. I’ve tried as much as possible to stay away from ‘content’ suggestions though naturally some thing overlap with content to an extent.

If you think of any other great examples then please add them to the comments to help everyone else!

Utilise Typically Boring Site Pages

Boring pages

People pages

Liven up your people page with unique insights into each staff member. Jellyfish do something similar in a fun and quirky way using cartoon overlays on rollover. It becomes quite addictive to see what each one will do which engages the user and increases time on site. Also fun to share.

Fun people page Jellyfish

Distilled do something along the same lines but with alternative quirky photos.

Fun people page Distilled

Privacy and Terms & Conditions pages

This opinionated lawyer has a unique privacy page. Yours doesn’t have to be controversial but you could easily inject some personality into it with images and build trust by abandoning all the legal jargon and using honest, reassuring promises in plain language for your users.

Interesting Privacy Policy Page

404 pages

The NME site is currently featuring Dave Grohl on their 404 page and I’ve seen a few people Tweet the link. We can’t all feature celebrities but you could promote a featured product, team member, recent project or company values with your dead space.

NME 404 Page Featuring Dave Grohl

Or why not engage your users instead of sending them back to the site with an interactive game on your 404 page like this site did with a variation on the classic game Lemmings.

Interactive 404 Page with Lemmings Game

About Us pages

37 signals does a nice job on their about us page combining a visual timeline of the company history, their milestones and achievements, it gets the key people and products mentioned and portrays the company personality all in one go.

37 Signals About Us Page

Recruitment pages

Stand out against all the other companies wanting to hire the best and also make the page more shareable by being different and interesting. This page on the Inflection site is both compelling and visually appealing.

Inflection recruitment page

Contact pages

Give your contact page a unique twist. On the Fixel site you can swap the faces of the designers with that of a giraffe. Weird but fun and addictive. If you scroll down, the designers are then represented with silhouetted facial hair along with their contact details.

Fixel contact page

Custom footers

Normally footers have the usual boring copyright and legal information and some useful site links. Why not reward a users who’s bothered to scroll right through your page with a tangible benefit like an offer or just with something fun and unexpected like this illustrated footer on Urban Pies.

Urban Pies Footer

E-Commerce Examples

Ecommerce section

Crazy or Excessive Products

Firebox, the gadget gift site, do this very well with a ‘WTF?!’ product category featuring Flying Hovercrafts, a Replica Batmobile, Jetpacks, an Electric DeLorean and the World’s Most Expensive Vacuum Cleaner amongst others.

Crazy or expensive products

Fake products

This example on Wish.co.uk of a 10 Downing Street experience day sprang to mind. Fake products have been done before, and will be done again, and when done well always attract attention. Note the FB and Twitter shares on the page are sitting at around 700 and 500 respectively.

Wish Fake Product 10 Downing Street Experience Day

Controversial Checkout Process

Last year, Kogan, an Australian online electronics dealer, began imposing a “tax” on customers visiting its site using Internet Explorer 7. The news page got thousands and thousands of Likes and Tweets and featured on news sites like the BBC.

IE7 Tax Kogan

Demo your products in a silly but useful way

Millican is a quirky site selling bags & travel accessories. Rather than just show you mages of bag they demo them in an almost silly but very useful way by filming them being packed with ridiculous amounts of stuff.

Demo your products in a silly but useful way

Interesting models

Why not use interesting, controversial or unique models in your photo shoots. Tattoos aren’t exactly controversial anymore but Need Supply often use tattooed models for product shots.

Use interesting models

Forget you’re a shop!

Slam City is a skateboard shop, but they sponsor a bunch of skateboarders, do a ton of interviews, videos, etc. & they don’t do that for links or shares, they do it because they think it’s good. They probably get a lot of links/shares as a side-effect. Genius.

Forget You're A Shop

Customer product shot contributions

Black Milk achieve this beautifully by letting customers add photos of them wearing a product on Facebook accompanied by a specific hashtag. The submissions are then pulled into a gallery on the product page like below on the Artoo 2.0 dress.

Customer product shot contributions

Useful gamification

Allow users to play with or ‘try on’ your products by gamifying the process. H&M have a virtual dressing room that lets you choose your character, dress them up and then buy or share the results.

Gamification

3D product creation

Enabling users to create their own products then view them in 3D is fun and engaging and whether or not they end up buying the product it just begs to be shared socially. This process is optimised by Foldable.me.

3D Interactive Product Creator

Let users test drive products

Some things are fun and easy to buy online and others not so much. Then again some people hate buying glasses in store too. Specsavers lets you virtually try on any glasses by simply uploading a photo then choosing frames and colours to see how they’ll look.

Spacsaver test drive online products

Company Transparency

Transparency section

Warts and all

How about letting everyone see right inside your company’s inner workings. It’s simple yet very effective to do what Huit Denim did and have a live webcam of your factory and processes for all to see.

Company Transparency

Publicise bugs and complaints

Instead of trying to cover up customer problems how about make them all public like Naked Wines do. Not only will other customers see you help but it builds trust very quickly with potential customers.

Publish bugs and complaints

Let your customers see you during interactions

Schuh, the footwear site, have a live support chat that let’s you see the support agent you are dealing with on a webcam. They can’t see you so it’s not an intrusive service but it’s a nice reminder it’s an actual person helping you.

Schuh Webcam Live Chat Help

Be personal

Freeagent, the online accounting software, have an amazing support team. We use Freeagent so I’ve experienced them a few times. I love that on their support page it shows you the members of the support team and their names. Nice and personable. Stock photos worked in 1996. Nowadays, not so much. How many companies can that 1 girl with the headset work for and who really has a globe in their office to point at?

Freeagent Support Team

Be the real, authentic, you

Love this site. You might have seen Ling on Dragon’s Den with her car leasing business. Her personality and marketing were eccentric and different but instead of trying to hide that away or change them to fit a persona the site just played on it and embraces her completely. Don’t try to fake it, people will know when you are being yourself.

Lings Cars Just Be Yourself

Include your pets

Lots of companies have dogs that come to the office with workers or satellite staff might spend all day with their companions. People love animals so feature them on your site and let your audience get to know them. Web agency Nclud include their pets on their people page like loveable Floyd Günther below.

Include your pets like Floyd Gunther

Do it live

Annoyingly I couldn’t find the example I wanted to use. There used to be a stunt kite maker who you could watch building your custom kite on Ustream. That was very cool. Tattoo sites could use this to great effect too. I could imagine a lot of outgoing people telling their friends they could watch them being tattooed and giving out the link then screenshots and the url flying around Twitter and Facebook all day.

Tattoo Box Live Streaming-Video

Geek Section

Geek Section

Have fun withyour source code

Lots of companies have used ASCII fun in their website’s source code to great effect. Coca-Cola, Obama and Tumblr all had ASCII versions of their logos in their source code recently generating lots of links and mentions.

Tumblr ASCII Art

Easter Eggs

Die hard fans of your brand and geeks will love this and it will generate a lot of chatter. Dante’s Inferno hid ASCII art on lots of popular website to generate a buzz around the game.

Hidden ASCII Art Generates Buzz

Topical Elements

You could adapt elements of your site based on the date, season or important event relevant to your market. Probably the best known version of this would be Google adapting it’s logo to a Google Doodle to mark important dates. Every time they use an interactive one I see it talked about all day on Twitter.

Google Doodle

Games within your site

You could have a treasure hunt within your site, or in Heart Internet’s case, a Zombie Hunt. Genius if you think about it. Fun. Increases page views and time on site. Have promo content on the pages you know they’ll have to see to progress. Capture email addresses to announce prizes. And ZOMBIES!

Heart Internet Treasure Hunt-Zombie-Hunt

Konami Codes

The Konami Code, is a cheat code that appears in many Konami video games. Many website incorporate hidden content behind the code being entered. Google Reader makes some Ninjas appear. The sequence of the code which is most popularly used on websites is the following (directions are performed using arrow keys):
Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right B A

Google Reader Konami Codes

Robots txt file

Why not have some fun with your robots txt file like on http://explicitly.me/robots.txt it combines ASCII art, a story and humour to create a linkworthy geeky resource.

Explicitly me robots txt file

Beautiful typography

It’s easier than ever to break away from the limited range of traditional web fonts and include customer fonts on your site by using 3rd party services like Google Fonts. Barcamp uses fonts beautifully to help enhance the character of the design.

Barcamp Typography

Comments

  1. This is an awesome monster of a post.

    So many good examples.

    If only more site owners would start to brighten up their sites and make the would-be dull pages into something more interesting.

    An issue I find is that too many site owners are scared to go slightly out of their comfort zone or worry about how their company or brand will be seen. In truth these type of improvements can only enhance a reputation. If only people would take (what they see as) a risk.

    • Chris Gilchrist says:

      Yeah it’s a shame Andy especially when none of us (in SEO or web design) would consider most of the examples risqué or extreme – most are just common sense and bordering on best practise as the web matures. But like you I know of a few clients who would require a tailored pitch and still be worried about trying some of them out.

  2. Wonderful examples in there Chris. I really applaud any company that abandons the headset girl cliché.

    I’ll leave you with one ace example of a big company who “get it” with their about page: http://www.bloomberg.com/company

  3. Great and interesting examples here Chris, you clearly spend far too much time on the internet!

    A couple of more examples for you:

    I really like Screaming Frog’s “Our story” page http://www.screamingfrog.co.uk/our-story/

    This site is just full of bonkers products:
    http://www.thisiswhyimbroke.com/

  4. Love these examples Chris. Love Schuh and the live chat feature – awesome for customer experience and I’d imagine, awesome for their conversion rates. Still love the Black Milk Clothing one too for the UGC, makes a page much more valuable and again, I can imagine a positive impact on conversions.

  5. This was a really fun post! I love the fake product idea…still trying to convince my colleagues here that it’s a great idea. Also, the art in the code? Brilliant! I absolutely love that. Talk about geeked out! I can think of some really fun things in that area, like putting a message to your competitors in there, LOL. Thanks for this. I’m sending it around to everyone on my team now.

  6. Some of the most interesting documentaries that I’ve ever watched and they were made by a footwear manufacturer!?! http://www.palladiumboots.co.uk/video
    I’m not sure if they sold anymore shoes because of it but the videos got millions of views between them and a few links along the way. Probably an example for the bigger brands but still very cool.

  7. Fantastic Post Mate!

    I loved the creativity used by each one of them. Very sad to see not everyone use things like you shared. Definitely, to make dull pages into more shareable, playable & adorable must be the aim of every other website.

  8. This is awesome! I especially love the #hashtags idea – I’d love to apply the idea to my websites, but not sure how i can do that in the gambling industry.

    The only issue is that a lot of this stuff isn’t measuable. And that sadly does’t take precedence over work which is guranteed to perform when time is tight.

    • Chris Gilchrist says:

      Dunno Micheal I reckon a lot of it is. You could see time on page before and after a change. You could measure links/likes/shares of a page. Measure conversion improvement from the changed pages. And so on. Sure it would take work to prove but doesn’t everything?

      People love winning and sharing good fortune and excitement. I’m sure it would be very easy to encourage them to share their winning tickets or them collecting their winnings or even better send in pics of what they did with the winnings!

      • Hi Chris, cheers for the response. Yeah i guess you’re right in many respects, and there’s me thinking I’m open minded… psshhh…

        Regarding the #hashtag idea I see where you’re going with it and i think it’s certainly something that could be done for say William Hill or Ladbrokes, but we are an affiliate (http://www.roulette.co.uk) and struggle in that area.

        There’s certainly ways we can look to be more creative though even with our author pages and 404s as explained above. With definitely look to get these on the list of things to do! Thanks :)

  9. Wow…simply wow. You have provided a mashup of some of the best website ideas. Glad to see people are playing with robots.txt files as well.

  10. That’s an awesome inspiration gallery! Thanks :)

  11. Great post, I especially like the 404 error page with the lemings. I am very inspired by all the great content and it just in time as I am looking to redesign my blog.

  12. I have to say Chris, absolutely awesome post!

    Thanks for putting all of these great sites together. I Just bookmarked it and have no doubt that I will be back here again and again.

  13. thanks chris for this awesome collection , i love and select the best from above is “distilled” team!

  14. Thanks Chris, Great examples of creativity at its best, loved the custom 404 pages and Team pic overlays from Distilled and Jellyfish.

  15. Hi Chris,
    Love your post – such a big eye opener with loads of great ideas. Am definitely going to bookmark it and read it over and over. I wonder what your fees are…. :)

  16. I can’t wait to try some of this things and to think some new ones.
    Great post!! As soon as I finished reading it, I shared it!! So basically it also worked out as en example of something linkworthy :)

  17. I would’ve never thought of ASCII art in the source code… genius!
    Great post

  18. Thanks Chris, this has just sparked an influx of inspiration!

  19. Great ideas! I love the “About us”/Team photo ideas. Definitely want to suggest these for our ecomm site!

  20. What an epic post Chris. I was thinking about writing something like this for Paddy’s blog, but it certainly wouldn’t have been this good :)

    I really appreciate the conversation about integrating more value into your website on what you would call your boring pages. It’s all about user experience and getting your customer what they need. It’s important to be creative and have a personality especially on content that could help you make the sale.

    Great post!

  21. Chris,
    Greetings from across the pond. Thanks for going to the trouble to locate and post these examples. As an e commerce site, we are constantly competing for attention…standing out from the crowd is a sure fire way to gain eyeballs, and your ideas/example will be added to the updates on which we are constantly working.

    Team Vvego appreciates you.

    Robert Porter
    Founder&Friend
    Vvego International

  22. Thank you Chris, this post is a powerhouse of ideas.

  23. Lots of great stuff here. Many great ideas and some very usable ones. I think I am going to start with “including my pets”. I have always put my dog out for conference calls for fear she would grunt or yelp (she does that while she sleeps). Not really worried about a disruptive bark, but a strange noise that I would have to explain to a client always worried me. I guess I need to be more human and less agency.

  24. It is amazing how technical and beautiful the web has become with all the great and intriguing designs. Personally a favorite of mine is google.com/nexus/ leave it to Google to come up with such a slick design.

  25. Great examples, Thank you!

  26. Try the Konami Code on this website :)

  27. Awesome post! If there’s one thing that clear on this post… Creativity can make a huge impact to site or brands success.

    Anything normal and seemingly boring can be made alive with creativity. Thanks for sharing this post. Cheers!

Trackbacks

  1. [...] pomysłów z zagranicy jak poprawić stronę internetową, aby linki mnożyły się [...]

  2. [...] How to Make Your Website More Interesting and Linkworthy Chris Gilchrist Follow @hitreach To wrap things up, this post sees Chris Gilchrist of HitReach speak about how you can spice up sections of your website and make them more interesting, and making them so that readers will be more willing to share them and link to them. In this post, he provides a veritable feast of methods and examples of ways in which you can go about doing this. Some of these methods include: People Pages: Creating fun, quirky profiles for your staff is a great way to liven/lighten up a site, and we’ve actually done this on our site. Customer Product Shots: On the eCommerce side of things, Christ mentions how Black Milk let customers add photos of them wearing their products to the product page. Customers See You During Interactions: Schuh have a live support chat where you can actually see who you’re talking to. Tweet Chris’ Blog: Tweet [...]

  3. [...] How to Make Your Website More Interesting and Linkworthy [...]

  4. [...] How to Make Your Website more Interesting and Linkworthy [...]

  5. [...] Imitate and Iterate – all art is theft after all and researching what others are doing to make their content and websites more engaging is always a great idea. [...]

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