What Does It Mean to Have an Interactive Website?

Man touch virtual screen iconsNot so long ago, clients and prospects would call me and say, “Joanna, I want my website to be more interactive.” They wanted to move beyond a website that just had a lot of text to one where visitors could fill out online forms, make purchases online, register for meetings, etc. Today, I would say that an interactive website is one where:

Visitors can perform transactions via an online form. It’s 2013, we shouldn’t be asking our customers to download, print, fill out and mail/fax PDF forms.

Visitors can submit stories, photos, videos, comments, blogs. yada, yada. The most popular websites in the world are ones where users provide all the content. Shouldn’t YOU be harnessing the knowledge and experiences of your members?

Visitors can interact with the information and services that you offer. Let’s face it, interactive features like calculators, clickable maps and interactive timelines encourage exploration and suck us in because we get to control the experience and we’re rewarded with a little more data as we click, zoom, pan and swipe.

The content and experience is personalized based on demographics and history. I remember when Amazon first started offering recommendations; it was creepy. Today, I welcome the recommendations because they’re usually spot and they encourage us to explore authors, music and games that we would otherwise never be exposed to.

There is context-sensitive, user-friendly help. This help could take the form of a live chat feature, pop-up help screens and a helpful glossary.

Earlier this week, Matrix Group Creative Director Alex Pineda and I did a webinar on the “5 things you can do to make your website more interactive” and we touched on the tips and trends above. After conducting hundreds of user interviews, watching people test websites and hearing what users have to say about their wants and needs, it’s clear that the top websites are personalized and encourage exploration through a rich, immersive experience. Creating this type of experience is quite a challenge but it’s what our visitors want and expect.