Having an immersive web experience is often the topic of conversation. It’s the digital ideal devised to pull in viewers, keeping them on your site and engaged for the maximum amount of time, optimising sales potential. But while the theory is simple – to make your website stand out from all competitors through the deployment of graphics, animation, and interactive content – the practice is harder. Because while aesthetics obviously matter, a truly immersive website delivers far more.
Understanding The Fundamentals of an Immersive Web Experience
To start with, it’s important to understand that almost all websites are interactive to an extent. They all require user input to navigate. Most have different pages, different media, and different buttons for users to click. But a truly immersive website will take its users on a journey. You’re not just looking at what’s to be seen. You are absorbed by it. Engrossed in the content and the experience. Prompted to explore. And you’re willing to spend your time finding out more.
Some brands have already smashed this, from the Hong Kong Design Institute, where users find themselves presented with a floating island just waiting to be explored, to Cellag’s interactive website. But regardless of the method or intended purpose, the unifying factor of outstanding immersive web design is the ability to not only capture attention but to hold it and deliver the ultimate user experience.
How Can Your Brand Create an Immersive Web Experience?
Start With a Core Vision
When well-managed, interactive websites can deliver immense value. But they need to be created with focus to avoid an overwhelming cluttered experience. So, keep your customer’s needs in mind. Ensure simple navigation and use interactive features carefully, ensuring they add value without creating a distraction. Don’t forget about the user experience fundamentals when getting carried away with immersive features.
Interactive content can be integral to an immersive experience. It can take the form of gamification if it suits your brand identity. But there are other elements that can work. Pop-ups, sliders, animations. As long as you don’t overlook basic navigational essentials in favour of flashy effects, interactive cues can quickly enhance the user experience. An example we liked is using real time communication for a contact form, where you will be asked questions and respond with answers, rather than a boring set of fields.
Use Visual Cues to Power Navigation
Most people respond to visual cues more quickly than written words. We follow arrows without thinking. We respond to signs without needing to interpret them. Visual cues can help to make website navigation more intuitive and less invasive. Taking your viewers where you wish them to go, without them realising that you are guiding them. Make pages flow and an experience endless by putting CTAs at the end of content to lead onto the next piece, like how YouTube will always serve you the next video and before you know it, you are hours in!
Consider Your Visuals
Whether you’re using 3D objects or parallax scrolling – which creates the illusion of three-dimensionality – your imagery changes the way browsers view your website. But be wary – these techniques don’t appeal to all. So, understand your demographic before you make your choices. They can also reduce performance, which is immensely important for SEO ranking and keeping viewers on the page before they bounce. There are some streamlined animation libraries like Lottie and Three.js which are lightweight and optimised for the modern web, while enabling a brilliant experience like no other.
Work on Micro-Interactions
Micro-interactions are small interactive website elements, which can impact the user interface. Triggering an immediate site response – unexpected audio content or visual effects – micro-interactions can be a great way to guide users through your site, and provide additional personalised content after certain interactions like clicking on certain pages or products.
Think about how elements across the site can respond to the user and improve usability, for example, teasing a video by showing a looping preview when the user hovers. Which helps them understand what will happen next but also encourages them to click on it.
Why Does Having an Immersive Website Matter?
The primary appeal of having an immersive website is that it sets you apart from your competitors. But it also supports business growth – engaged customers become loyal customers. Immersive tech can also cross barriers – when you rely on visual cues rather than text, you don’t need to worry about language. So, you’re able to communicate with a wider audience base. If you’re lucky, your design will attract attention, and you’ll draw new customers in for your CX reputation. While the technology can be used to help accrue valuable data.
In essence, creating an immersive website is about going beyond the template. Telling a story and creating an experience that your customers can not only enjoy but value. Taking your website and your brand to the next level in one easy step.