7 Steps to Great Interactive Design
April 25, 2018
Creative Director, RRD Global Outsourcing
If you’re serious about taking your user engagement to the next level with smart interactive design, here are 7 steps to pave the way.
1. Know your target audience
What target audience are you designing for? What are their preferences, goals, needs and wants? Spend time answering these questions because it will greatly inform your content and design creation strategy. In the end, you don’t want to waste precious time and resources designing a solution that will not resonate with your target audience.
Remember, the “best” solution may not be the right solution. Ultimately, your end goal is to create an emotional connection with your stated audience. That’s why an intimate knowledge of your target audience’s personal, demographic and cultural information is important for your interactive design to be effective and memorable.
2. Make it personal
Would you agree there’s a huge difference between the salutation "Dear Customer" and "Dear <your name>"? I think you would. The concept of personalization is fundamental to creating a good interactive experience.
If you’re managing an e-commerce platform, we’d suggest the following actions, 1) address a customer by his or her first name, 2) recommend items based on shopping history, 3) add personalized messages and 4) offer country-specific suggestions. These types of activities create an instant connection with your target audience and illustrate your brand cares, which ultimately heightens the personal engagement quotient.
If you’re offering a service, work to customize your communication based on customer usage, special offers and incentives.
Progressive web apps are also becoming popular tools and are another option to consider. They make push notifications, offline viewing of content and app-like engagement easily available in websites.
When you limit your brand to one technology or platform, you’re possibly restricting the potential impact the design could have on your audience. When developing your technology strategy for interactive design, don’t use technology simply for the sake of technology. Rather, consider it a vehicle that merges with content and design to deliver a holistic and highly interactive user experience.
For another option, consider delivering an immersive, augmented-reality (AR) experience through your website. An interactive web strategy that incorporates this “on trend” capability will impress your customers more than a run-of-the-mill, functional website.
If you manage a product-based website, your marketing team can show exactly what your product can do by leveraging various types of technologies. This allows your company to appear more convincing and less ordinary. In the end, don’t be afraid to add an additional layer of technology to the total user experience.
4. Use case testing
A big question is, “How well will your interactive design perform”? The answer to this resides in your ability to execute comprehensive testing. As the saying goes, “test well and test often”. For example, collect real-time feedback in the prototype stage, so that you can realign your strategy, minimize unnecessary spending and avoid any potential negative outcomes.
We have daily proof – it’s a 24/7 “always on” globally connected world. Given this, your team will need to be mindful that different cultures could react to your interactive design differently. Certain sections of your website could also perform much better than others. Conducting prototype testing and gathering relevant data will solve for this.
In short, if you want your interactive experience to work perfectly, don’t leave anything to guesswork - test, test and test again.
5. Make it easy to navigate
All web visitors are less tolerant of bad interactive experiences these days. It’s estimated that a 1-second delay in site-loading time will lead to a 7% loss in sales conversion. Using this calculation, e-commerce giant Amazon®, loses $1.6 billion annually 1 with every 1-second website loading delay.
How to avoid this situation? Steer clear of any web and interactive designs that require extensive scrolling, clicks or that have too many categories. Keep your design functional, streamlined—and as always, attractive.
Marketers have an obligation to prioritize the information displayed on a website or within an interactive experience. Ensure that the most relevant information occupies the first fold of the website.
There’s more work for you to do to optimize your website and it doesn’t end there. Marketers and web architects must also give visitors a clear path by which to exit the site. If you hold on to your customers too tightly and make it challenging for them to navigate your site, they might leave due to frustration. In the end, interactive design is about memorable experiences—not difficult ones.
6. Ask for feedback (the right way)
How you ask visitors for feedback is as important as the feedback itself.
We highly recommend that your feedback request be seamlessly integrated into your offering. For example, it’s not helpful to have a feedback form or pop-up box appear before your customer has even had a chance to view your offering.
Follow these steps to successfully achieve your feedback goal; 1) establish a personal connection, 2) prioritize the display of vital information and 3) request feedback in a polite and unobtrusive manner.
7. Mobile, mobile and more mobile
It’s astonishing—by 2020, mobile commerce will account for 45 percent of all e-commerce activities — compared to 20.6 percent in 2016.2
The number of mobile phone users is expected to exceed 5 billion by 2019.3 That’s a whopping 67% of the world’s population. Of these, 2.7 billion users will be smartphone users. This number is only expected to increase.
Whatever interactive strategy you formulate, you should do this one thing—design first for mobile and then for desktop. The aforementioned statistics boldly highlight the reasons to follow this approach.
However, there’s a caveat. The interactive functionality available on mobiles is less robust due to bandwidth issues, hardware capabilities, animation support and technical frameworks etc. Despite these challenges, your interactive design must still be mobile responsive to ensure maximum reach and impact for your target audience.
What does the future hold?
Immersive interactive events are expected to continue to make headway. Experiences will no longer be limited to interaction with one interface and will breach realms like augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR).
Moving forward, the definition of interactive design will evolve. It will be an ecosystem of various technologies expanding beyond their individual silos, blending together to create memorable experiences.
It’s interesting, the concepts of interactive design and user engagement have gone from the Internet of Things (IoT) to the Internet of Experiences (IoE). With IoT, it was possible for your refrigerator to notify your mobile phone when your stock of provisions, like milk, was low. Within an IoE arena, your refrigerator can now directly communicate to a retail outlet and order new supplies, like eggs, milk or whatever you’d like.
And that’s just a glimpse of the future to come.
Are you interested in designing unique interactive experiences for your target audience? RRD Global Outsourcing Solutions has extensive experience providing creative and digital communications support services. Please contact me directly at email@example.com or complete this form if you’d like to discuss an upcoming project need or have a question related to any topic discussed in this article.
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