Client briefs always request that their websites are engaging and interactive. But what is interactivity and engagement anyway?

We like to think of interactivity like a conversation, with participants listening, thinking, speaking. The quality of the interactive experience is determined by the quality of each part. Applied to the online experience, the conversation metaphor provides a useful framework to help create excellent interactivity.

And then there is engagement. We all want users to engage with our websites. Even better if they can experience a degree of pleasure when doing so. In order for the user to engage they must be given the power to take action, to participate, the ability to actually do something. Participation is a fundamental factor in creating interactive experiences.

To fulfill the creation of quality digital experiences, here are five good ways to look at interactivity, which can be remembered with the following mnemonic phrase ‘Uncle Fester is Surely Right’:

Usefulness

It may seem like an obvious one, but can never be over stated. Make sure your site is really useful to your customers. Give them tools and information to help them make decisions related to your product or service. Allow them to self service. For example, increasingly customers dread calling contact centres, and would rather service themselves through your website. Allow them full control over how they wish to receive and customise your product or service via the online space.

Findability

It is vital that the customer can find the information they came looking for. The search box has become a prominent feature of web site design. For 30% of users, the first place they look for information is with the search box. A further 30% will turn to the search box if they fail to locate what they want through the navigation. It is important that the search results are meaningful enough to guide the user to the content they are looking for. But don’t settle for the conventional in search. The latest techniques can make search much more useful and effective, as ever Google has some great ideas that are worth looking at.

Another way to enhance the findability of content on your site is with tags. Tagging uses XML technology, and allows your users to add descriptive keywords to content. The benefit to tagging is that it gives people the ability to use their own terminology to describe and categorise site content, creating an organic taxonomy to classify content. A tag cloud on your site allows users to see the most popular site content at the current time.

Information analysis

Customers want to compare information. It could be features and prices of your products, or even your competitors. Customers want all the information they need to be laid out side by side in a way that is easy to cross reference.

Sharing

The digitisation of information has made it easy to share content. One of the features of the social media phenomenon is the ease with which we can share content. People now expect the ability to share to be built into the design. Business can harness the power of sharing by treating social media as a distribution network, where users distribute your content for you. This does require a shift in thinking from social media being a channel to push content through, to seeing it as a peer to peer distribution network.

Rewarding

Users need information throughout the online experience. It is necessary to strike the right balance between demands placed on the user to input information, and the payoff for the user at the end. We recommend information feedback at each step along the way to keep the user engaged.

Consideration of these points will serve to create a better user experience for your customers by improving the quality of the interactivity. So remember next time you look at updating your website, make sure that ‘Uncle Fester is Surely Right’ - Usefulness, Findability, Information anaylsis, Sharing & Rewarding.

www.sopranodigital.com

Our Services at a Glance

* Strategy and Planning
* Creative and Design
* User Experience
* Interactive Development

* Website Creation
* Digital Marketing
* Online Advertising
* Interactive Content

Published on: 12:33PM on 20th August 2009