It can be very tempting to launch a new website with as much functionality and variety of features you can think of. If the goal is to attract as many visitors as possible, this may seem like the most advantageous strategy, for you think you have given them everything that they could want and how they want to use it. Unfortunately, most often this results in many lost hours of work, unnecessary money spent, and delays in launching your site.
Let your viewer’s collective intelligence and imagination be the guide to your website’s future.
Most successful sites have not started out complete and in tune with their user’s habits and preferences. Short of spending a great amount of time and money on pre-development focus groups, building a website is a gradual process of observing your users, and listening to their ideas and complaints. In effect, your website will go through a process of evolution to meet the current desires and needs of its visitors. Meet the most important needs in a timely fashion, and your site will be a success. Ignore those needs, or use your time and resources on wrongly supposed needs, and your site objectives will be disappointing.
You can encourage user input by including a ‘Feature Request’ page. This page could be an email form that sends their ideas to your inbox. It could also be a discussion forum, where users write posts and discuss the issues as a group in an organized and manageable fashion. Another idea is to set up a poll to ask your viewers their opinion on adding or changing a feature of the site. Additionally, if you have the information, you could attempt to contact your most frequent visitors and ask them what they like, dislike and desire from your site.
In time, after listening to your users and having created the site they want to keep visiting, your site may reach a certain viewership size that you will no longer need to encourage opinions and ideas. They will come whether you want them or not!