As a small business leader, you strive to fill every interaction with the highest level of customer care. In order to earn a new customer, you have to interact with them in positive ways. But in an increasingly digital world, how much of this interaction actually happens online? Is an interactive website design even necessary for a happy customer?
Would you guess 20%, 40%, maybe as much as 60%? Actually, research shows that over 70% of a customer’s journey with a small business now happens online in a “self-service” capacity.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re a big tech company, a local shop, or an ecommerce store.
Making the most of this digital experience should be a top priority. An interactive website design allows you to interact and automate each visitor’s experience.
Let’s explore the benefits interactive website design offers small businesses and get inspired with examples of interactive sites.
What Is Interactive Website Design?
An interactive web design integrates software into the web page to engage visitors with a more relevant experience. It’s the difference between talking at someone and starting a conversation.
No one likes to be talked at.
The website does this by asking individuals to take trivial or more complex actions to continue experiencing the website. These actions may be:
- Pressing play
- Skipping an ad
- Playing a game
- Entering their location
- Using a simple tool (ex. budget calculator, etc.)
- Answering a question
- Making a selection
Through these actions, they learn about your company and what you do. Use the information gathered from these interactions. Create a more meaningful user experience for the visitor.
A great example that most of us are familiar with is WeatherChannel.com. It allows you to enter your zip code to get your custom weather reports. You get a more relevant local experience in doing so.
Now, take this interactivity away. How would you experience this website?
You would be seeing national or international weather. You might have to hunt through it to find the weather where you are.
This would be less relevant. It doesn’t give you as much of a reason to stay.
We’ll look at some more inspiring examples of interactive website design that small businesses are using. We’ll see how they increase engagement and revenues. But first, let’s explore the benefits of an interactive site.
1. Connect with Customers in Meaningful Ways
90% of consumers today expect a website to have interactive self-service components. These help answer questions and guide their decisions. Remember, over 70% of the customer’s interactions with you are now digital.
You may bend over backward to provide a customer with an amazing experience when they interact with you face-to-face. But what if you’re not addressing the other 70% of that experience? You’re missing opportunities to grow your relationship with that customer.
You’re running the risk that a competitor will step up to provide that experience instead of you.
76% of people who interact with a local website visit the physical business within 24 hours. When your website connects with people, you can drive this kind of foot traffic.
An interactive website design lets you make the most of this digital piece of the customer’s relationship to your brand.
2. Increase Trust through Consumer Psychology
What would happen if a charity that you don’t know asked you for $10,000?
You’d walk away. Even if it’s a great cause, you don’t know what percentage of your money actually helps people. You don’t know anything about their methods, connections or leadership.
Now, imagine this charity asked you for $10 instead. You don’t know them. But it’s a good cause and it’s not a lot of money. After you give the money, you start to learn more about them. When they ask you for $20, you feel comfortable giving more.
Each time you give a little, you feel good about helping the cause. At some point, if you have that $10,000 to give, you might actually give it.
Non-profit businesses have learned how to tap into a key component of human psychology to achieve this result.
For-Profit Businesses Can Use This Trick Too
Each positive interaction with you gets a person a little more invested in your brand. In the beginning, money doesn’t even need to be involved.
Have you ever played in-app purchase games like Candy Crush or spent time on a slot machine? Did you feel the urge to give a little more to continue the interaction? Before you know it, you’ve spent $20, $40 or $100.
If you have, you’ve experienced this phenomenon. There’s well-researched consumer psychology behind this that many small businesses don’t know about.
Each time a person does something on your site, they feel rewarded.
It encourages them to keep going. They begin to feel that they may miss out if they stop now. An ordinary website doesn’t have this power.
An interactive website design does.
If adding something to their cart is the first interaction you provide, the you’re missing out on using this behavioral psychology to your advantage.
But you don’t have to miss out. Getting an interactive website design built to meet small business needs isn’t as difficult as you might think.
3. Increase Conversion Rates
An interactive website design engages your customers. It builds trust and interest without asking too much too soon.
As their trust grows, they become a paying customer. It’s the logical next step.
Why would they even consider a competitor when they’ve become so invested in your brand through an interactive website design?
4. Improve Personalization
Interactions not only engage. They can be measured.
Look at what people are clicking, when, where, and how. Use this data to learn more about your customers.
Apply what you’ve learned to create a better overall website experience. Create an even more customized experience for each visitor.
This drives sales.
According to a Salesforce survey, 64% of people said they want personalized brand experiences. 73% say they want businesses to use the data they collect to create this more personalized experience.
49% say they would give companies more data if that company used it to create a seamless experience.
What could you do with this more detailed data? You could:
- Direct them to exactly what they’re looking for
- Create more relevant content
- Display offers that they can’t refuse
- Increase interactions for greater investment in your brand
- Provide a highly customized personal experience
And it’s all automated.
Interactions happen without the need for direct, day-to-day involvement with each potential customer. Spend more time and effort focusing on closing deals with highly-qualified leads.
While you do, your interactive website design automatically nurtures cold leads. Soon they become hot ones through personalization.
Now, that’s how to maximize your small business budget and optimize your valuable time.
5. Solidify Your Brand’s Place at Top of Mind
When you connect with people through an interactive website design, you become a fixture in their lives. They come back to your website again and again because you add value to their lives. That’s even if they’re not yet a paying customer.
When you stay top of mind, your brand becomes synonymous with your industry, products, and services.
6. Teach Potential Customers About Your Business
Of great value to your brand is the potential of customers to learn through an interactive website design.
Is your industry inherently boring? Make it interesting and fun as customers learn about what you do. People forget they’re learning if it’s fun.
Today’s consumers want information before they make a buying decision. They want to see full transparency. While they may want this, they want to get this information in a way that stimulates.
The micro-interactions found on interactive sites do just that.
7. Encourage Sharing
When you provide a more meaningful experience, people want to share your site with others. They want others to get the same benefits. Or they want to be the first to “discover” your brand among their friends.
These social media shares increase your visibility on important platforms like Facebook. In addition, it furthers the sharer’s connection with your brand.
8. Earn More Quality Natural Backlinks for SEO
When you have a helpful, interesting website, more people want to link to your site from their own websites. These links can be very valuable.
Not only can they guide traffic to your site when people click on the link, but Google recognizes links from other sites as a vote of confidence for your site. They are a known ranking factor.
Google’s algorithm uses their presence to determine what position to give you in searches.
Building backlinks is a very important part of SEO (search engine optimization). The more that you can earn naturally by being a helpful website, the less money, time and effort you’ll need to spend.
9. Increase Site Authority in the Eyes of Google
In addition to earning backlinks to improve your visibility in searches, an interactive webpage does more. It improves Google’s perception of your site.
Google needs to see that you provide a great user experience to reward you with first page visibility.
Interactive elements show Google what it needs to see. They:
- Increase dwell time — People stay on a page longer
- Reduce bounce rate — People leave your page without clicking
- Generate more traffic through referrals, shares, and people directly visiting your website
When you provide an interactive user experience, Google notices and rewards your site with a higher position. This drives even more traffic through searches.
10. Gain a Clear Competitive Advantage
Sadly, most small businesses aren’t investing in interactive website design. They think it will be too expensive or hard to upkeep. They don’t have the in-house skills to develop a more helpful site.
They think having a small business website is enough. Turn their misunderstanding into your competitive advantage. Connect with people in a modern way.
Develop a more dynamic website to squeeze out the competition.
11. Get a Commitment & Follow-Through
No wonder people have such short attention spans. A faster Internet means they can bounce from site to site. If they don’t feel immediately connected, they just move on.
They don’t feel any sense of loss. They didn’t waste any significant time. This other website seems more engaging so they click over there.
An interactive website design stops people in their tracks. It kindly asks them to do something rather than just being a passive observer. They get something in return.
It may be:
- More information
- A Laugh
- A tip, trick, or life hack
- A more customized experience
Have you ever started a slideshow of funny cat pictures and felt compelled to keep going? Why did you feel this way? You knew it was a huge waste of time. You had better things to do. Yet you wanted to get to the end.
You didn’t feel like an anonymous visitor anymore. You felt like you were sharing an experience with the website.
The website got your commitment to view the slideshow in order to engage with their site. When someone has committed to something, they want to follow through.
Examples of Interactive Website Design
Interactive sites come in all shapes and sizes, and they oftentimes work on small business budgets. It’s time to start thinking about how you can get more interactive. Let’s get some inspiration from these small businesses interactive website ideas.
Brown University Math Department
Brown University understands that hypothesis testing and probabilities can be boring stuff. That is if you’re not a gifted mathematician.
They’ve dedicated a section of their site to colorful interactive tools that allow you to interact with data. Develop a better understanding of what the data means. See how variables change the outcome. Learn in a fun way.
As a business, this engages potential students who might not otherwise have considered Brown for their higher education. But now, when it’s time to submit college applications, Brown is top of mind.
Because it’s an advanced math tool, it attracts the target audience they want to attract for their math programs.
That’s what makes interactive elements like this so impactful for business.
My Grandmother’s Lingo
This is an award-winning interactive website design. It teaches visitors how to speak various words in Marra. That’s an indigenous language once spoken prevalently by the native people of Australia.
Simple yet attractive graphics ask the visitor to click and speak the words they hear. As they do, they progress through the website. They learn more about why this company created the website.
The application for this design is obvious in terms of linguistics education. But the same principles can be applied to small business in so many ways.
Ask visitors to say words or verbally answer questions to progress through the site. Have them click to learn more. Teach visitors about a product or service in an interactive way.
Augmented reality (AR) continues to integrate a customer’s online with their offline experience. AR takes something that exists in the real world and allows people to interact with it digitally.
You may recall the Pokemon Go craze several years ago. People hunted down virtual monsters in various locations around their real-life environments.
MapsTD created a much simpler but equally engaging design. It integrated a tower defense game into real Google Maps. Choose a location on the map to defend like Buckingham Palace, the Taj Mahal or the White House.
Then place map markers to detour an invading force. It’s surprisingly fun!
How could your business apply a similar location-related interactivity?
Solace is an interactive storybook. As the visitor clicks, swerves the mouse and pops bubbles, the story progresses. Images shift on the screen. If the visitor randomly clicks on the story characters, they laugh and dance.
Could you use something similar to tell your brand story? Could you educate visitors about your services? Create an experience to remember and share.
This interactive website design is a relaxation and productivity tool. It’s simple interface allows you to click on images to play various white noise or soothing sounds.
Choose random alternating sounds or combine sounds. Set a timer. Customize your sound experience.
How could your business interact with visitors through the simplicity of customized sound?
W3 is an free coding education website that can take people from zero programming experience to competent in a few short months.
They use interactive software that allows you to “play around” with code that they’ve written. It instantly displays the results of your actions. As you interact, you learn how small changes completely alter what a person sees on the screen.
This instant feedback is what makes this form of interaction and education so effective. As you advance, you remember what you’ve learned because it’s so hands on.
Click on graphics to learn more about energy consumption and conservation in the UK over the past forty years. This website took a topic that could be very boring. They spiced it up with interactive graphics.
Scroll and click across colorful graphics. Learn more about the history of various industry’s environmental impacts.
This design could be applied to virtually any small business in any industry. Your business may appear mundane to the average person. Adding strategic interactivity can still get people interested.
12 Simple Things You Can Do Now to Be More Interactive
You understand how important customer interaction is to your business. It’s time to start planning and developing a more interactive website design. But what can you do now to make your boring site more interactive?
Let’s look at 12 simple things you can do today to create a more interactive user experience.
1. Give people opportunities to click. Strategically place call to actions, expanders and clickable light boxes. Give people something to do on your site in addition to scrolling and reading.
2. Prominently place social media share icons. Make it easy for people to share your website and its content.
3. Develop more engaging content. These include a blog with articles, videos, inspiring images, infographics and other more interactive elements. If you don’t have things like this, people don’t have much of a reason to learn more about your business.
4. Update content often. Keep your website relevant and up-to-date. If the site never changes, people have no reason to come back or look forward to new content.
5. Encourage people to sign up with email or follow your blog feed. This gives you an opportunity to quickly share your latest content among existing loyal followers. Design emails in such a way that they make it easy to interact with your website.
6. Solicit comments. For many people, the comments are the best part of a piece of content. They want to read what people are saying about your content and business. This provides social proof that you’re an authority in your industry worthy of trust and loyalty. On top of that, it increases dwell time for both the commenter and people reading. That’s great for your SEO.
7. Add a slideshow. If your website has a responsive design, people love slide shows. They’re easy to create and can be used to build curiosity and interest in your brand.
8. Add a chatbox. Allow people to contact you through your website during office hours. You can put a message up when you’re away or integrate a basic chatbot technology that can guide the person to valuable resources.
9. Add a search function. 9 times out of 10, if you give people a search box, they’ll use it instead of trying to navigate through the menu. It gives them the power to find exactly what they’re looking for.
10. Embed YouTube videos, Slideshares, Twitter posts or other more multi-media technologies into your site.
11. Request user-generated content. Encourage loyal customers to share their experiences with your product or service. Upload videos, pictures, stories or reviews written by customers. Or set up a portal. Allow them to do it themselves.
12. Add Google Maps to your site so that people can easily see where you are and get directions.
Bonus: Have a responsive website design. This one seems obvious. But it must be said. Trying to add interactivity without a very fast and user-friendly design with backfire. It causes frustration. People will leave.
Everything you do should work as it’s intended to work. If it doesn’t, it’s better not to have it. This is what sets apart a professional user experience focused designer and the others.
Developing an interactive site isn’t as difficult as it might seem. There are simple ways you can start experiencing the benefits of an interactive site. As you do, you’ll want to begin doing more to enhance each visitors experience.
In doing so, you’ll start turning traffic into real, paying customers who love your brand.
To learn more about how we can help you build more interactivity into your website, contact us today.