I grew up in Cyprus, and one of the activities I did as a kid was play a SEGA arcade game called Wonder Boy. The game was so much fun that it created a memorable experience for me, and now, when I think of Cyprus, I associate it with the memorable and joyful experience of Wonder Boy. The brand of Cyprus, as a country, becameassociated with the experience I had playing this game.
On the web, it’s really not much different. Your website is your brand’s focal point online; much like your retail outlets or your sales team, your website is a point of interaction. The more memorable the user’s experience on your website is, the more they will remember your brand.
In the 90’s, a website was really a brochure to provide information to visitors about you and your company. Such a mentality has evolved a lot, primarily because of technological advances in the web. The web evolved from being a static one-way communication channel, to being a social and interactive channel.
The ubiquity of great social websites and the rise of “gamification” as a concept on the web (think of the cool badges you collect on Foursquare) have also conditioned us to expect websites to be much more interactive, easy to use, and, believe it or not, more fun!
To follow these trends, I don’t suggest that you turn your website into a Foursquare or a Facebook replica, but I am going to suggest simple ways for you to make your website more interactive. In my next piece, I’ll will then conclude with a case study that shows how simple, cost effective ideas, can turn a boring activity online (taking a survey) to an opportunity for interaction and engagement with the brand, creating a memorable experience.
The easiest way to create more interactivity is to allow people to comment or login to your website (in case you have an area on your website where you need people to login). One way of making these easy, fun and more “social” is by using social plug-ins like Facebook’s Comment plug-in, or Authentication plug-in.
Adding a Facebook “Like” button to some of your web pages also adds a basic element of fun and interaction.
I land on “Contact Us” pages all the time, disappointed to only see text with phone numbers and fax numbers. Or worse, I land on a page with a form asking me to fill out endless fields of information.
List your contact details and address, perhaps have a location map, but make sure you give people the chance to fill in details they may want to fill such as Name, and Message. You would be surprised at the amount of people who use a form to ask you a question, or request a quotation, or something else in specific. Remember they may be browsing your website after office hours, or from the comfort of their laptop on the sofa, far from their phone. Giving them the chance to interact with your website through a simple Contact Us form is just good practice.
Also, a “Contact Us” form is just an example, you could add an “Appointment” form, a “Feedback” form, and so on depending on your business.
Depending on your business, a forum may be a relatively easy way to build a community around your brand, a product, or any industry ideas you may have. The technology is available on most major web platforms (Joomla, DNN, and others, which I previously described in my post on Content Management Systems). Having a forum, provided you market it, make it easy to participate in, and moderate it well, can turn your website into an interactive place. Some forum plug-ins actually embed basic elements of hierarchy and ranking to participants, allowing them to evolve from a “newbie” kind of status, to a much more prestigious “rank” or “status” in the community.
Additional simple ideas to create interactive experiences on your website may include anything from a feedback button, to live chat, and so on.
Gamification is a field in its own right, and probably worthy of a dedicated article, but the rise of technologies similar to Foursquare’s badges, such as Badgeville, Bunchball, BigDoor and others allow website owners to create user experiences based on game mechanics, points, rewards, leaderboards and so on, incentivizing your web visitors to take actions you want them to take on your website, e.g. reading more of your blog posts, commenting more, downloading whitepapers, etc. If you are serious about creating fun interactive experiences, then you could start by investigating these technologies and how you could incorporate them into your website.
All that being said, it does not take much to create fun and interactivity. A case study that will follow shows how simple and easy ideas can go a long way in creating memorable interactions.
In conclusion, the technology is now available for you to turn your website, or your online channels into interactive ones, all it takes is some thinking, proper planning and execution… and in the mean time, feel free to interact with me in the comments below!
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