The Internet is becoming the town square for the global village of tomorrow. – Bill Gates
Let’s face it. The Internet is no longer small part of our life; it is quickly becoming the centerpiece of how people entertain themselves, share life with friends and family, and conduct business. This simple but true fact is revolutionizing how information designers must conceptualize and design their websites. Interactivity is the answer! It just makes sense to bring into play the countless tools available to us that make our sites work hard for us. That is not to say that all interactive tools are appropriate in every situation, but there are several fundamental tools that, when leveraged, will make your site more sophisticated and help give an edge on your competition.
One basic interactive tool that goes great lengths at providing a warm and fuzzy feeling for site visitors is live chat. This helpful tool enables people to chat with a representative on-demand. By simply clicking a button on your website, waiting for a text chat box to pop up on-screen, and then typing their message, customers can begin a text chat with your representative. There are many solutions available that can be easily integrated to your website like LivePerson, Comm100, BoldChat and WebsiteAlive to name a few.
One of the most popular forms of website interactivity are customer review forums, which enable consumers to offer undiluted reviews of goods, services or general experiences. While they are often found on e-commerce or retail websites the types of sites that have begun to utilize them grow continually. Providing customers the opportunity to post both positive and negative reviews may cause uneasiness for many webmasters, but overtime these uncensored reviews help create a foundation of trust with your customer base.
Another wonderful example of website interactivity is Starbucks “Find my Perfect Coffee quiz”. In this quiz, a customer can easily discover what kind of Starbucks coffee best suits their taste with this simple interactive quiz. Not only is the quiz effective, it makes browsing their site fun!
See for yourselves: http://www.starbucks.com/coffee/finder
So, whats the bottom line? Websites that share only static content and don’t allow visitor/customer interaction are quickly becoming a thing of the past. If we as the future’s information designers desire to build websites or other interfaces that are going to be effective we must be willing and able to deploy new interactive tools like, but certainly not limited to, the ones I discussed above. Websites cannot effectively reach their intended audience unless they are designed in a way that not only attracts them, but also engages them.