Change is an accepted rule of the universe. On web also the same rule applies. The frequency of change has a lot to decide in the revisit of your user. A very basic point in engaging your user and making him check in often.
Lets take some non-contextual yet relevant examples first and then we will get to the point. The Google crawler is always in look for new updated fresh content. The frequency of the crawler visiting a web page is dependent, to a large extent, on how frequently the content of the page changes or is updated. Same happens with emails. The people who receive more mails check in more often. That said, it doesn’t count spam mails. If every time you check your mail and receive 10-15 spam mails you would probably check your mails less often. Remember the old days when we checked our Orkut Scrap books every hour or so. But we have lesser scraps coming in now so we check less often.
To make sure that the user will check in often it is important to change/update the content and make sure it is engaging as well. Content portals like Indiatimes and Rediff update the news on their homepage every 10-30 mins and hence a normal user checks-in about 2-3 times a day. Imagine if you had lesser tweets coming in would you refresh your twitter page so often?
Not only content/news portal but other sites like local search, classifieds, free SMS sites etc. all of them can have some very small engaging tool that is updated frequently but is relevant as well.
160by2, for example, has this quick templates thing in the ‘Send SMS’ page(login to see) that shows categorized messages according to occasion. This is very relevant to their basic service and a lot of users send an SMS just because they saw a good message.
Similarly, Onyomo has a small space on their homepage that shows up 2-3 movie quizzes daily. Again, very relevant to what they offer and engaging as well.
The point is, the change does not have to be very big, even a relevant small feature that is updated regularly can be quite engaging and gives a reason for the user to comeback.
Know of any such feature other sites are using? Do share it with the community.
[Naman is a startup enthusiast and has worked with couple of Indian startups as Product Manager. He is the founder of FindYogi]