Tip: How to encourage exploration on your site

YouTube has added a really nice touch to their site that encourages people to explore and view other videos. This has the obvious financial benefit to them of increasing video and page views, thus increasing advertising revenue.

Beautiful sunrise

I noticed that when you pause a video, and you put your mouse over it, a search box appears. It’s like they’re saying “Hey, why not explore some other videos?”. It’s a really natural and interesting way to encourage folks to stay on the site.

Here’s a screen grab of a paused video on YouTube:

YouTube search box appearing on video

It’s important to think about small and helpful ways you can encourage your site visitors to stay a bit longer and explore.

The amazing photo of the sunrise was taken by flickr.com/photos/kanegledhill

Ryan Carson

Ryan is the CEO and Founder of Treehouse an online technology school that teaches you how to code, how to start a business, how to make websites, iPhone/iPad apps and Android apps. Previously Ryan founded Carsonified (acquired 2011) and DropSend (acquired 2008). Ryan was born in 1977 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He graduated from Colorado State University in 2000 with a degree in Computer Science. He then moved to the United Kingdom to pursue a bit of adventure and fun and ended up meeting Gillian, getting married and having two wonderful boys. He and his family now live in Portland Oregon. Feel free to follow him at @ryancarson or check out his blog at ryancarson.com

Comments

0 comments on “Tip: How to encourage exploration on your site

  1. I often find the search box (and Related Videos that are displayed once the video ends) a distraction, as I only really pause the window to get a cup of coffee or some other personal errand, or for another reason, but I always return to watching the video.

    Having so many other links on the page is a distraction for me from the main content, and can get irritating at times.

    Obviously, I’m just looking at YouTube as an example here, but the concept is good, and I’m sold at the idea of keeping a user on the site, I just think it should be done in a more unobtrusive way.

  2. Videos are good but Youtube’s quality leaves quite a bit to be desired in the broadband area.

    Vimeo and Viddler are the way forward.

    Youtube is obviously the BIG one though and the search box is quite groovy. I however always just click the video to open it in teh default page as it’s larger and I can view comments. SO for someone like me it is anti sticky :P Infact, I’d say it’s quite ‘greasy’.

  3. The related videos feature at the end of a clip is a lot more effective at keeping me on the site than that search box while the video is paused.

    The ads are starting to get on my nerves too…

  4. Yep, it’s great (For YouTube peeps) but not very helpful when you embed a video from YouTube onto your site. Certainly with myself, if I watch an embedded YouTube video I tend to watch loads of others and end up visiting the YouTube site itself. Major distraction!

  5. Fair points – so thanks for chiming in.

    I guess my main point is that they’re actively steering you towards more content on the site. They’re not just letting you watch a vid and hope you keep clicking.

    It’s a good example of how to be pro-active with your visitors to keep them on the site.

  6. I’m a user of YouTube but no fan of the search box. I find it really distracting and intrusive to the content of the video that I have selected to watch.

    As a web site that enables businesses to upload and distribute video in a professional, unbranded video player, this plays into our hands a little as merchants want the buyer’s full attention. They don’t want the potential buyer’s attention being drawn by the chance to search elsewhere or to look at other people’s videos.

  7. I think the suggestions it gives when you finish watching the current video are excellent. I often get caught by them and end up watching more.

    The search box, however, I don’t get at all. If I’m watching another video, I’m watching that video, not thinking of things to search for on YouTube – and if I do think of something, I’ll head over to YouTube itself to get the improved video size, comments, and metadata.

    As with most things, however, there’ll undoubtedly be a user base who does want to do random video searches while on other pages, so it will probably stay. Heck, there are people who still use Yahoo, MSN, and all manner of “should be obsolete” things on the Web :)

  8. @cisnky Yeah I’ve seen the ‘view in HD’ links, but they aren’t always that great and Youtube aren’t really pushing it either.

    @Ryan If you want to keep users on your site, stick Tetris on it lol. Seriously though, best sticky content is always consistently new material. Whether it be quality posts/images or decent comments. That’s just my humble opinion anyway

  9. I think this is an excellent point, really makes you think about using your sidebar and secondary content to promote other parts of your site!

    Thanks Ryan

  10. And I bet they made the decision to show the search bar because they had data to back it up. I’m sure they’ve got analytics knowing when and where we press buttons and when we leave videos to visit more interesting things. Good use of analytics data that’s for sure.

  11. I think it’s a great feature for YouTube, but this obviously doesn’t translate perfectly to a blog that doesn’t have embedded media. I find that showing some related posts around a blog entry often decreases bounce rates and improves exploration on some of my sites where text is the primary form of content.