Join Chris Nodder for an in-depth discussion in this video What is interactive content?, part of User Experience for Web Designers.
- Interactive content means items that you place on your site that allow visitors to use the mouse or touch gestures to move items around, rearrange them, or change options to configure something. This dynamic content is often used for 3D interactions like Google Street View or for car configurators, and for features such as scrollable timelines and news stories or on history sites. Interactive content can help you in several situations. Animations on your site can educate visitors by showing them where an item ends up after an action. For instance, to let people know how to see what's in their shopping cart by animating items into it after the customer clicks the Buy button.
Configuration tools that allow manipulation can help people see the effects of different options. For instance, how bright an LCD projector's image will be at different distances from the screen or how a new car will look with different trim choices. Online photo editors that show how an effect will look as soon as it's selected provide useful and immediate feedback. Most situations that use this type of content to show what the result will be, are potentially good uses of interactivity. It also helps when entertainment is a large part of the process, but there is a downside, too. Many people can't use interactive content, either because their browser doesn't support the unusual plug-ins that are required or because Flash or other plug-ins aren't available on their mobile device.
For some people, it's because their reaction times or motor skills might not be sufficient. Then there are the people who could use it, but don't want to because they aren't online to play games. This is especially true of repeat visitors, who have seen the content several times already, and just want to get through to the outcome with the minimum possible fuss. So the best uses for interactive content are to teach visitors concepts or features, to demonstrate the effect of choosing different options, and to give immediate feedback when people perform an action on your site. But, you should also offer a non-dynamic alternative to the interactive content.
It might not be as stunning to look at or as fun to work with, but it might well be faster, and for some visitors, the boring old-fashioned approach could be the only way they can work with your site.
User experience expert Chris Nodder teaches
- What people want from websites, how they search for information, how they read online, and how to structure your content to take advantage of this research
- How to use graphics to help rather than hinder visitors, how to integrate video, audio, and other media, and when to consider interactive rather than static content
- How to look at your site's homepage, forms, product pages, and content through the eyes of users to build a site that better meets their needs
- How to balance site content with advertising
There are never enough great interfaces in the world. Take this easy introduction to start making wonderful online experiences for your own users.
- Building a site visitors will like
- Using single, consistent, and standard design principles
- Creating good menus
- Working with site maps
- Adding search to a site
- Arranging content in a layout
- Writing for the web
- Creating category pages and landing pages
- Designing product pages and forms
- Using media and interactive content
- Balancing ads and content