Informavores and info-foraging
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Today is my 34th birthday. I've had a personal computer in my house since 1980, when I was 10, and been online in some form or another for 20 years now, since I was 14. I've been using the Internet since 1990, and have worked on websites for more than six years, since I was 27.
The two main strategies [for attracting people to a site] are to make your content look like a nutritious meal and signal that it's an easy catch. These strategies must be used in combination: users will leave if the content is good but hard to find, or if it's easy to find but offers only empty calories.
This dual strategy is the reason I recommend that you showcase sample content on the homepage (appear nutritious) and prominently display navigation and search features (demonstrate that users can easily find what they're looking for).
I think these strategies are key reasons why weblogs like this one are so effective: the home page is the main course, and when properly set up, a weblog site is relatively easy to search, and the results of those searches are relevant and useful.
It's also why I've set up multiple ways of finding things here (even if some of them are broken and incomplete), why I and other webloggers are always tweaking our sites, and why, for instance, I just converted my site syndication feed to include the full contents of my recent journal postings, instead of just summaries.
All that work for a tiny little backwater site like penmachine.com? Yeah. It's a learning process, and learning just goes on and on and on.