Are You (User) Experienced? Balancing Site Engagement with Functionality

yellow image with text that reads Are You (User) Experienced?

Experiential web design is all about immersion and interaction. Static web pages (anybody else remember calling them “billboards” back in the day?) are disappearing. Many users now want to be drawn in with multimedia, interactive play, storytelling—any kind of component that amps up engagement or triggers some kind of response.

That might sound a little Matrix-y, but that’s the point. We don’t want website users anymore. We want website participants.

Participation Power
Here’s what’s beneficial about this evolution in web design:

  1. Enhanced User Engagement: Captivating users with an interactive experience that encourages exploration and participation means more time on site, more opportunity to reinforce messaging and capture data, and more chances to create a strong user community.
  2. Memorable Branding: Delivering user involvement wrapped in your company’s identity is a surefire way to reinforce your brand presence, boost recognition, build loyalty, and move prospective customers down the sales funnel.
  3. Improved Communication: Combining interactive elements with compelling storytelling is highly effective for messaging and communication, whether it’s a narrative about your organization, its people, or its products and services. Same goes for educational content that speaks directly to the interests and concerns of your key audiences.
  4. Authentic Connection: Immersive visuals, animation, interactive features, etc.— can all stir emotions, create excitement, and build deeper user connections. Again, the aim is to transform visitors into true participants! That has big impact on influencing desired actions, whether making a purchase, downloading content, requesting a meeting, or whatever the goal.

Potential Pitfalls
While all this sounds groovy, cool, dope, slay, bussin, or whatever the kids say these days, experiential web design is not without caveats, both user and technology driven:

  1. Accessibility: Highly immersive and interactive experiences can challenge users with disabilities or anyone who relies on assistive technologies. It’s important to ensure that experiential web design is accessible to all users. In fact, it’s often a requirement. Make sure you are complying with web accessibility guidelines and can provide alternative options for interaction and information access.
  2. Performance and Loading Times: Creating rich experiential web designs means high-quality visuals, multimedia content, and complex interactions. Play is the way, but these elements almost always mean larger file sizes and longer loading times. Make sure your designers keep optimizing performance top of mind and are aware of likely user bandwidth limitations. Otherwise, your site is going to be a source of frustration.
  3. Compatibility and Responsiveness: Experiential web design can require advanced technologies and technical expertise that might be beyond your reach or not really necessary to meet your goals. Balance your vision with realistic expectations and a solid understanding of your audience. And always ensure compatibility across different browsers, devices, and screen sizes. Weighing all the options can be a challenge but is crucial to delivering a consistent experience that achieves your objectives.
  4. Balancing User Experience and Functionality: Immersive experiences shouldn’t come at the expense of usability or functionality. Don’t forget your site needs to be intuitive, easy to navigate, and focused on its primary mission to inform and prompt action. Work to maintain balance between experiential elements, core functionality, and clear purpose.

Pursue Your Priorities
Keeping all of that in mind, the appeal of experiential web design speaks for itself. An approach that means more engaging, memorable, and emotionally resonant user experiences is obviously worth pursuing, so long as you can prioritize accessibility, performance, compatibility, and usability. Strike that balance and you can create a site with powerful differentiation that is more likely to connect with your audience in a meaningful way.

Plus a Word about Video
Video has exploded into a universally effective and immersive way to connect with your audience and leave a lasting impression. It’s also become an expected—some might even say required—component of any website, now that 75 percent of all internet traffic is streaming video.

The good news is we do video! Take a look at one of our award-winners.

To see more, subscribe to our YouTube channel. Discover how we can conceive, craft, and produce video experiences that will hold your audiences’ attention longer, improve your SEO, increase your online visibility, and improve conversion rates.