Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Interactivity in Web Design

Increasingly, interactivity has become a central theme in web design. The web is a very different place than it was in the 1990s when websites operated in isolation and users simply retrieved information.

Cutting edge web design should create platforms for interactivity at every opportunity.

Successful websites encourage interaction on some level. Single user interaction is about engaging individuals in elements of the site's content. This includes creating product portfolios, galleries or quote generators that encourage individuals to engage with the site's content.

Interaction that is positive will encourage the user to form some relationship with the content that is more meaningful and more valuable, than that of an observer.

Multi user interaction is about creating a space for users to interact with each other. Forums, blogs, polls,  and discussion groups facilitate dialogue and create communities around a specific topic, location or area of interest.  Good web design  encourages users to generate their own content and share it with other users.

Websites do not operate in isolation, but  should allow themselves to be  thoroughly connected and integrated.

Web designers should anticipate the needs of end users and cater to the way that people behave online. Websites could incorporate video in youtube or link users with common interests on facebook or twitter.

The links to and from the site should be logical and useful to the user.  Relevant web design  should add value at every opportunity.

How to make websites interactive:

A blog  or a forum can easily be added to a website as a subdirectory. Users can interact with the blog by leaving comments.

They can ask questions or start conversations in a forum across a range of different topics. This allows the user to engage with areas of content that are specific to to their needs.

Web design that incorporates podcasts or videos on youtube allow users to engage with your content in a different format.

Chat windows are a useful tool that lets users chat online with customer services, without having to phone in.

Social bookmarking allows users to  recommend your site to their friends. Add social bookmark icons to your website to make this easier and to create the potential for a surge in web traffic. Icons can link to facebook, linked in, my space, twitter and a variety of other sites.

Ezines or newsletters can  help to establish your business as an authority and help build  a relationship with visitors to the site. You must ensure that the ezine is wanted and that it is useful or this will have an adverse effect.

Interactivity is not the only element of good web design. The best websites are easy to navigate, consistent, helpful and intuitive. While search engine optimisation in a website's design can help bring visitors to a site,  good web design should  also encourage users to stay and browse. Visually interesting sites and sites that provide useful or unique content an help captivate users and build an audience.