The Perfect Paysite

Stephen Yagielowicz
Dwindling retention rates and falling profits got you down? Lower conversion ratios causing you concern? Perhaps it's time your paysite got an extreme makeover.

While a great tour and a ton of targeted traffic can generate a steady flow of new signups, without a quality member's area that provides a compelling, sexually satisfying experience for your members, they won't stick around for very long. And because the bulk of paysite profits stems from recurring membership fees, increasing member retention is a vital concern for all operators.

Let's take a closer look at the ingredients of the perfect paysite, regardless of its content, niche, size or budget — keeping in mind that delivering the utmost in user satisfaction is the bottom line.

The first consideration that most paysite operators deal with is the type and category of content they wish to offer; for example, softcore photos of teen models in bathing suits or hardcore videos of group sex action. That's all fine and dandy, but to be successful, other considerations that transcend a specific niche or content type must also be evaluated.

When member retention is the goal, nothing works quite as well as offering a plentiful assortment of unique, exclusive content: If the member can't find this material anywhere else and can't obtain it all during the length of his current membership, he's much more likely to remain a member — provided of course that he desires your content.

Having frequent updates will help hold his attention, but they must also be of the quantity and quality that he expects and demands. This is a subjective area that can be graded on a sliding scale; for example, "real amateur" and so-called "reality" websites may get away with a lower-quality product delivered in lower amounts than can mega sites offering high-definition porn star content.

All Sizes
Offering your content in a variety of sizes, formats and form factors is also a good idea. For example, photos can be displayed at a reasonable resolution, allowing members to enjoy them without scrolling or being limited by dial-up. Content can also be offered in high-resolution versions for those who find a particular image "irresistible" — and in zipped gallery sets so that members can easily download the whole set if they so desire. Videos should be offered in full-length form, as well as in short, broadband-friendly "highlight" clips, such as you might offer on an MGP gallery, as well as in mobile-friendly and multi-player formats — not just as a WMV, MPEG, AVI or MOV files but all of the above. Generous distribution of video screen captures can also bulk up your members area and tie your video and photo offerings together.

Finally, offering as high a degree of interactivity and personality as possible is always a good idea, such as a message board where members and models can interact. User ratings on content sets, live video chat sessions, the ability to request content types/themes and having a "site hostess" are all ways of adding personality and increasing interactivity.

Having all the content your members could ever want available in the way they want it means nothing if they can't get to it, however. This is where attention to detail in crafting the user interface comes in.

Beginning with the basics, your user interface should provide a simple, easy and intuitive navigational structure, offering redundant navigational aids — for example, using graphical, JavaScript or Flash buttons at the top of your pages backed up by text links at the bottom, so that users without JavaScript-enabled browsers or the latest plugins can still navigate easily from page to page.

While many designers are paying more attention these days to developing sites that are multilingual, those on the cutting edge are going beyond being multilingual to being "trans-lingual" — where literacy in any language is not a prerequisite to the enjoyment of, or navigation through, the site and its content. Think about this when considering the types of graphics to be used, as well as the textual labels they may carry.

Consider also that not all members are going to be computer experts or Internet-savvy; they may not understand how drop-down boxes work, for example (really!). Offering a "help desk" along with a frequently asked questions page (FAQ), a site map and an easy means of contacting you will pay dividends.

User Experience
While the quantity and quality of your content along with the sophistication of your user interface directly impacts the user experience, they are not the only considerations to be made when evaluating the overall "feel" of the member's area.

Among the most important factors are the speed and availability of the website; it must be fast-loading and have reasonable up-time levels. This is as dependent on your web host as it is on the member's Internet connection, and as such is under your control.

Your site should be standards compliant and available to the widest user base practical — not necessarily the widest user base "possible," as that may reduce the number of users who enjoy a great experience. For example, designing for users with an 800x600 monitor as opposed to a larger size makes sense. While some might opine that only 15 percent of surfers are using that size, why make them have to scroll horizontally and thus enjoy your site less? This leads to lower retention rates, and while some may point out that it's only a matter of 15 members out of 100, I know that if I was offered a 15 percent pay raise, I wouldn't say "Thanks anyway, but that's not enough to bother with..."

Level of Compliance
Finally, the price of the membership will directly impact the user experience and overall satisfaction. While pricing is beyond the scope of this article, as long as memberships are reasonably priced, with flexible payment methods and options, including pay-by-phone, check and even pay-per-view micro-payment options, members will have reasons to join (and stay), rather than reasons not to.

Successfully implementing all of the above considerations and bringing together the elements needed to provide a compelling and satisfying experience for users is the key to attaining overall member satisfaction; a move that will ultimately lead to profits and ongoing market viability. Add in a total level of compliance with local, state and federal laws, and you have the makings of the perfect paysite. While there are endless tweaks and nuances that can enhance and improve this blueprint, the foundation it establishes is solid and will get you started — or restarted — on the right foot.