The fact that you can create a website within minutes nowadays is pretty awesome. But just because you have a live website does not mean that it will be visited, that it is engaging, converting users and serving as a sales machine.
In 2020, websites need to be interactive, more than anything else.
Why Interactive Web Design?
The Internet has changed the way traditional media works in one fundamental way – it is interactive. In other words, users need to take action – they need to open a browser, find your website and open it so that your content is served to them. Then, your site visitors have to interact with your content – whether it be reading, clicking on a button or filing in a form – so that their actions are capitalized.
Interactivity is a basic feature for all valuable content published online. It is a game-changer when it comes to website design and online marketing. To prove your content is good, users have to interact with it. To make your website efficient, it should engage users in ways that benefit them and you as the site owner.
Study.com defines interactive web design this way:
An interactive web design is a design for websites which uses other inbuilt software, modules or features aimed at creating an environment for a website or web application user to be actively engaged during visit or use as the case may be, thereby improving his or her user experience (UX).
Related to websites, it all comes down to designing human interactions with the site and improving how they engage with the page elements. The benefits of good website interaction design are more than clear:
- Intuitive User Experience: On your website, you’ll want elements that display content attractively and smartly, catching the users’ attention.
- Better Engagement and Lower Bounce Rate: Interactions keep users busy and inspire them to continue browsing your site.
- Understanding Behaviour: When users interact with your site, you get to learn what interests them on the site and about your business.
- Higher Conversion Rates: Conversions are a type of interaction so the more users get engaged by your pages, the higher chances of them becoming your customers.
- More Shares: If users find your website fun and engaging, they’ll want to share it with others. This will increase traffic to your site and make people talk about it.
Interactions on your site should be similar to human face-to-face communication. Keep that in mind when building the UX – your site takes the role of your salesperson and needs to be kind, helpful, friendly, predictable and reliable.
The Pillars of Interactive Web Design
According to UXPin’, here are the basic principles to try to apply:
- Goal-driven design: Interactions are built on human connection so every step should direct users closer to their goals.
- Effortless usability: When interactions are intuitive, the friction for users is gone, which results in a better experience.
- Affordances and Signifiers: Each user action that is required should speak for itself, suggest its own meaning and have a signifier for it.
- Consistency and Learnability: Each interactive element should be predictable as to its effect and consistent in its use. This way users will learn how to better use it.
- Timely Response and Feedback: For users, the interactions on your site feel like a conversation so it is good to make them fast and relevant. This will project your services/products as reliable, friendly, and supportive.
Over the years, web design trends have changed, but the principles behind interactivity and its benefits to the UX have remained constant. Every button, link, contact form and animation is a part of your website’s interactive design.
Identify Opportunities for Animations
The most attractive way to achieve an interactive website design is by including animations on your pages. Animations enrich the design by evoking emotions. They instantly grab the users’ attention and help them be immersed into your content.
Even a minor movement on your site can spark long-lasting impressions within the users. At their best, animations are used to tell stories, and stories inspire people.
But how to identify animation opportunities on your website? You need to make each element count. Find a specific site function and try to introduce an animation to it. So without further ado, we invite you to review these ideas for interactive website design and get inspired.
Make Loading Fun
If your site takes a while to load, do add some animation to it. Loading animations keep the user on the page, visualize the loading progress and make the entire waiting process fun.
Guide the Users
Animations are an attractive way to show users how to go through a process on your site – make a payment, place an order, use a calculator or another tool. Make sure to keep them short and simple and eventually guide them towards using the function.
Make Scrolling Interactive
Scrolling is the most common activity that users perform on the internet nowadays. That makes it the most boring one as well. So, why not make it more interactive for users with awesome animations? A well-designed motion makes things much more stylish and graceful.
What if you want to teach the page visitors something or make your page more informative? Animation can be helpful if you’re going to provide a quick guide for the users.
In this example from Pioneer.com, scrolling is combined with teaching users about the “corn revolution”.
Fortify Your Brand
It is always a good idea to impress users with an attractive animation around your brand. A branded animation can catch the users’ attention and improve the entire design of your site.
Present Your Company In an Intro
You may add an Intro to your site to present in short what you do. This is quite an old strategy yet – when done right – could be really attractive and useful. Just remember to give users the option to skip the animation and mute the sound by default.
Take a look at what Delassus Group has created – they are a Moroccan company specializing in fruit, vegetables and flowers – that have managed to present their business in a single minute by a colorful intro.
Animate the Site Navigation
Making website navigation interactive is quite a common technique. It is important from a usability point of view. The users should be clearly notified when they hover or click on a page in the menu. Basic as it might seem, navigation provides an opportunity for creativity, too.
Here is an example of a WordPress website for Delicato Family Wines, a wine-producing company, utilizing elegant navigation and browsing experience;
Make the Best of Your Portfolio
If you are in the service business and can provide rich visual content, based on your projects, your portfolio should be the focus of all site interactions.
Here is an example of a WordPress website for Powerhouse Company, an award-winning architecture office based in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. The user experience is based on navigation through their portfolio and it starts from the very homepage, with a cascade of floating images.
Create an Interactive Product Page
Apple is a brand that knows how to create great designs for their products and also for their web pages. Here is a page for their AirPods Pro, also built on interactive scrolling. It represents the product by continuous movements within a fixed-frame view. Excellent copy that strikes a powerful yet magical tone to enhance the fluid listening experience.
Tell a Story
Great animations are usually built on engaging stories. As seen in the examples above, the advertising copy is fundamental and so is the whole narrative. It does not matter if you need a simple animation for educational purposes or – like the example below – you have found an occasion for a whole fairy tale. A good story is always an excellent choice.
In this inspiring example, the MakeMePulse interactive agency takes users on a big journey. The idea behind the Nomadic Tribe experience is to wish for an exciting and happy 2019.
Bonus Advice: Do not Overwhelm the User with Options
Imagine the users opening your website looking only for one thing, whether that’s your About Us page or the Product/Service page. Andt within seconds, you bombard them with pop-ups, chat boxes, animations, ads, and a large main menu of links. This practice will distract the visitors, who will need time to decide what to do, and make them possibly forget their initial intent, which often leads to them leaving your site.
When you offer up too many options and interactions to choose from, you impede decision-making and the UX of your website has been compromised.
This is why you need to have a clear path and keep the interactive elements in control.
Reconsider every interactive element that you have on your site. What are the final goals for each user action? How do interactions combine and work together to convert leads?
Start with your homepage. See if you overwhelm the users with too many messages and choices there. A good example is Lemonade.com, a company that has transformed the insurance sales model.
Their homepage is aimed at those that already know that they’ll purchase an insurance policy. So, why disrupt their choice with more options and buttons other than “Check Our Prices”?
Yes, they do have more information about their services on their site but they have decided to keep the homepage minimalistic. It includes only prices, an accent on fast service and quality insurance coverage plus testimonials.
The only colorful elements in this black-and-white design are the red call-to-action buttons for immediate sales. This is an excellent example of “less is more” when it comes to conversion.
Interactive functionalities will continue to influence web design for years to come. When developing an interactive website design, don’t forget it should be like an easy conversation and face-to-face communication. The best interactions encourage users to respond quickly and don’t require too much from them.
The interactive design of your website should play a key role in how visitors use your website and can be converted. When interactions are synced with user goals and expectations, they can help to provide an engaging, emotional and memorable experience for them, leading to a sale.
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