A sticky feature is any feature that causes visitors to make return visits or linger longer at your page or site. Guestbooks and message boards can help to make your site stickier, since they add interactivity and feedback, as well as ever-changing content. A page or site that repels visitors and does not attract repeat visitors, on the contrary, is described as a slippery site.
If a page or site provides the impression that it is fresh and up-to-date, surfers are less likely to click the Back button and more likely to stick around. One way to do that is to provide feedback to the user and allow the user to interact, participate, and contribute. There are a number of ways to do this, including adding a counter, a guestbook, or other sticky features.
Adding a counter, for instance, provides feedback to visitors and can create the impression that your page is popular with other visitors. There are two different kinds of counters. The first counts hits to a page, whereas the second counts unique visitors. Since each visitor can account for several hits, a counter that counts hits will result in a much higher count than a counter that counts only unique visitors. A counter that counts visitors, however, provides a more accurate representation of the traffic being attracted to a page or site. First check with your Web space provider to see if they provide a free counter that you can add to your pages. Just follow their instructions to add the proper code to your pages. See the resource list at the end of this section for links to where you can find free counters on the Web.
A guestbook allows visitors to post comments or queries. Many Web authors use a guestbook in place of a mailto e-mail link, to avoid exposing their e-mail address to spammers. A guestbook is usually displayed on your page in the form of a couple of links inviting visitors to either sign or view your guestbook, sometimes along with accompanying graphics to call attention to it. If visitors choose to sign your guestbook, they can type a message to you and post it to your guestbook. If they choose to view your guestbook, they can scroll through and read any of the messages that have been posted to your guestbook. See the resource list at the end of this section for links to where you can find free guestbooks on the Web.
There are many other features you can add to your site to help make it stickier, including message boards, chat rooms, instant messaging, mailing lists, Web polls and surveys, site search, site maps, news feeds, weather reports, event calendars, tests and quizzes, link referrers, games, jokes, quotes, articles, e-cards (postcards), classified ads, countdowns, clocks, and more. Here are some resources that list, review, or rank remotely hosted Web services that you can add to your pages:
Adding Counters at members.aol.com/jaynecg/htmcode3a.html/. Includes guidance on adding a counter to pages hosted by AOL.
Remotely Hosted at cgi.resourceindex.com/Remotely_Hosted/. This is an omnibus resource that lists and has user-rankings for many remotely hosted services available on the Web, including counters, bulletin boards, calendars, chat rooms, countdowns, postcards, site search forms, polls and surveys, and more.
Free Content for Your Site from Builder.com at builder.cnet.com/webbuilding/pages/Authoring/FreeContent/.
Free Guestbook at www.freebiescenter.com/webmaster/guestbook.html. This site ranks free guestbook services.
Freesticky.com at www.freesticky.com/. This site reviews and ranks providers of remotely hosted services.
NewsIndex.com at www.newsindex.com/. A source of remotely hosted news feeds you can add to your site.
RSS Newsfeeds from WebReference.com/internet.com at www.webreference.com/services/news/. Provides RSS (Rich Site Summary) newsfeeds on finance, business, Web development, international, Linux, and software topics.
Weather On Your Site from Weather.com at www.weather.com/services/oap.html.
Weather reports from Intellicast at www.intellicast.com/About/IntellicastOnYourSite/.
BringMeHits.com at www.bringmehits.com/.
1000 Website Tools at www.1000websitetools.com/.
FindSticky.com at www.findsticky.com/.
Remember, however, that having a page or site that is quick and responsive is also a sticky feature. Adding too many remotely hosted services to a page might slow down the display of other content, which could end up driving away visitors, rather than enticing them to come back for a return visit. You can also publish remotely hosted content on their own subpages, which won't force visitors to your front page to download them if they don't want to access them.