The Interactive Website

internet-libre

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.

tools


One basic interactiveclick-to-chat 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 opportthumbsunity 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.

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4 thoughts on “The Interactive Website

  1. Thomas,

    I think the interactive tools you discussed remind us that the internet is about people. It is not an encyclopedia to be looked upon, but rather an enormous ongoing conversation.

    I like seeing the Live Chat button on websites. I like it even more when it works and there is someone there. It gives you more trust in the site, I believe, and trust is something every site strives to earn.

    Polls are good for interactivity and sometimes fun, however, I find the results of most polls to be misleading.They are most often not an accurate representation of the data. A poll asking “Do you compost?” on treehugger.com would be representative of what percentage of treehugger readers compost, not of what percentage of people compost. Therefore, with polls like these we need to be careful not to represent the data as scientific.

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  2. Great examples! This reminds me of a great experience I had when trying to return trying to return an item from the land of nod. After logging onto the website I was trying to locate the contact info for the return when I saw a speak to a rep via chat. In no more than 3 minutes I had finished my return and scheduled the delivery of a new item. Awesome. This is the type of interactivity that is transforming the user experience while reducing the costs of the business. God I love the future.

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  3. The idea of a global village is something that we, not only as Information designers, but information users have grown into. One of the biggest changes that we have to work with is that diversity of experiences/cultures. I liked many of the tools you mentioned in your posting. These are all things that we have all seen or experienced. Of the tolls you mentioned, I have to say that customer review forums are some of my most used. I don’t buy anything online unless I can read reviews about it first.

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  4. Bev Shaff says:

    As always, great job. I have not seen the quote from Bill Gates, “The Internet is becoming the town square for the global village of tomorrow.” Thought provoking!

    You hit some good tools with this blog. Chat is good to have for that instant service we as a society are expecting now. Reviews are always good. It can make your discussion making a little easier.

    Your last paragraph was a good strong closing! All of this interaction could keep us from needing brick and mortar buildings to shop, like this course. 😉

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