Walking on the beach one evening, I glanced over and noticed a restaurant completely lit up with little white lights, inside and out. It looked so beautiful and very happy; I quickly told Stephen (who was walking with me), that we should go check it out:
As we walked past, I considered that because this is a small beach town where there isn't much open during the winter, these happy twinkling lights are a clever and very inexpensive way for the restaurant to advertise that they are open. My thoughts quickly turned to my cozy little place on the Internet that I call my "home away from home," and as I thought about all of those happy little lights, I begin to think about just how comfortable and happy MY site appeared: Would it attract someone's attention and curiousity like that pretty little restaurant did?
Putting Out the "Welcome Mat"
When you build a pay site there are three very important things that you're trying to accomplish; you want to attract attention, get them to sign up, and most importantly you want them to feel comfortable enough to remain your member for more than one month.
That being said, how do you accomplish those goals? Like the restaurant shining out in the darkness, you also need to create a way to make your site shine out above the rest. Now, this doesn't mean that you have to put flashing words or blinking lights on the front page of your site, as those items are 'heavy' and can significantly slow your loading time, but there are ways to attract attention by adding your own personal touches upon a design that creates focus, and pushes the surfer's 'curiosity button,' making them enter and then hopefully join.
Once you've gotten their attention you want to keep it. Personally, I'm a bargain hunter as well as a button pusher; what I mean by this is that what seams to work best for me is asking myself the questions "would I join this site and why?" First, the tour pages would have to push some of my sexual buttons and second, the price would have to 'feel' like enough of a bargain to make me want to join. This doesn't necessarily mean seeing the standard "$2.95 3 Day Guest Pass" (recurring) would make me hit the join button. A 'bargain' to me could mean that the price is 'worth it' to ease my curiosity, or simply that the price is a good deal for what is being offered.
Take Off Your Coat & Stay A While
One of my favorite places to go to is Wal-Mart. Now you're probably asking yourself what this has to do with your site, but let me explain: some of my favorite things about Wal-Mart are their consistency in bargain prices, the convenience of going to one place that has everything I need, everything is neatly organized in its own category, and they have nice music playing, fast food, and bathrooms for your comfort.
What does this have to do with your Web site? When you enter a favorite place whether it is your home, store, restaurant, site, etc. it is the consistent convenience, comforts and cleanliness that make you want to stay. You must try to create these same aspects within your member's area, keeping everything consistent and familiar, offering new updates to add a feeling of fresh quality. Follow through on the promises you make to your members, make your site convenient by giving them as much content and variety as possible (porn and more).
Design for comfort. You're done with the 'hard sell' on the outside, so design your new member's area with colors that are easy on the eyes. Keep it organized by categorizing your content, and make it easily accessible. Last but not least, keep it clean and 'clutter free' by making sure there is only a small amount of advertising or 'artsy-fartsy' garbage, because no one likes a messy place; it only causes confusion and detracts from the focus.
So now that I've given you a few pointers on what might give your site the same feel and convenience as the comforts of home or some favorite place that you like to return often, go to your own site and ask yourself if your site is comfortable, and makes you curios to join, or worth what you're offering, and would YOU join it? If not, then maybe it's time to redecorate!