Interactivity is a popular design choice, and it’s easy to see why.
Traditional web browsing is a static experience. Users are no more than passive observers in your marketing funnel, with little agency or control over how they consume your messaging. But interactivity changes the game and lets users directly engage with your site. In most cases, this adds a new dimension to your messaging that improves the overall value of your UX.
It sounds great on paper, but is it necessary?
Interactivity Engages Readers
There’s a strong case for including interactive content in your site. Research surveys of user opinions of interactive content showed that the practice is popular with consumers for many reasons:
- 81 percent agree that interactive content grabs attention better than static content
- 79 percent agree that it enhances the retention of a brand’s messaging when combined with traditional marketing tactics
- 66 percent agree that audience engagement has increased since their organizations began using interactive content
Interactive content consistently ranks high in its ability to grab user attention, keep users engaged, and reinforce a company’s messaging. And it’s becoming a common strategy for websites of all kinds.
In fact, the New York Times reported that its most viewed story in 2013 was a simple interactive quiz. (This fact might make you traditional journalists cringe, but it proves just how powerful a simple piece of interactive content can be—even when stacked up against high-value thought pieces.)
And when you look at further research showing that visitors used interactivity as a measure of implicit credibility, it makes sense that the strategy is taking off.
Types of Interactive Content
What do we mean when we say “interactive” content?
Generally, any type of content or feature on your site that users can directly influence through clicking or data entry:
- Scroll-triggered elements
- Solution builders
- Live chat
Heck, interactivity can even be as simple as having pop-up text appear when users hover over a site element. Any feature you create that users can interact with, change, or customize is considered an interactive element.
Using Interactive Content Well
Perhaps the biggest benefit of interactive content is its ability to support a page’s message and encourage users to engage more deeply with the material. And beyond that, it’s a valuable tool for creating a narrative flow across your page. Look at the website for the time management app Daesk for an example.
By using scroll-triggered animations that activate as you travel down the page, the website controls access to content and delivers it in a structured way. Users learn about the service as they scroll, and every time a new animation pops up, they’re treated to relevant statistics and demo videos that help visitors get acquainted with the product.
It’s simple, effective, and best of all, you don’t even notice it’s there.
Of course, this is just one avenue for getting interactive material on the page. Content publishers (like Vox or Buzzfeed) regularly publish quizzes and assessments that encourage participation. Service firms offer free quote builders that let users get personalized information before continuing down the marketing funnel. Websites of all kinds utilize live chat to build out their customer service experience and keep users on-site.
When Interactivity Might Be Unnecessary
We’ve spent a lot of time so far discussing the benefits of interactivity, but like all web design choices, it can’t be applied to every website.
Certain sites focused around specific usability goals might not benefit from interactive elements. Think about the UX on Amazon or other e-commerce sites. Users want simplicity; they want to find what they’re looking for as fast as possible without fluff or distraction.
If this sounds like your market, you might want to think twice before bogging down your site design with unnecessary animations. The same goes for quizzes, calculators, and any other interactive element—unless there’s a good reason to include them, their presence may be distracting to the users’ UX.
Consider the cost. Interactive elements don’t need to be complicated, but integrating them throughout your web experience will take some time. If you do have them, make sure they behave the way users expect. For example, if you have a navigation bar at the top of your page that users assume will lead into a drop-down menu, it can be UX-breaking if you redirect them to another page instead. Put yourself in your users’ shoes before drastically changing your web layout.
And of course, your interactive elements must be functional across all browsers and mobile devices. While this should be a cakewalk for your developers, expect the process to take some time.
Getting Users Involved in the UX
Interactivity is a simple way to get visitors engaged with your website. And while it’s not for everyone, we feel confident in saying that most websites benefit from some interactivity. Whether it’s live chat, interactive content, or scroll-triggered animations, interactivity has a huge impact on the UX. It’s up to you to determine which elements are best suited to your market and which will have the best potential for improving your marketing goals.