How to design your website to be more interactive
Whether you are creating a personal site or a business site, one of the major functions of a website is often to engage others and create conversation or other meaningful interaction. While quality content, regular updates and easy navigation can go a long way toward building a following, these do not guarantee engagement or interaction. By integrating a few simple elements into any website design, you can encourage interaction and boost site performance. These methods are four of the most popular ways to create interaction on a website.
You have likely seen the phrase “content is king” thousands of times in recent months. While this is true, it leaves out one very important component to driving interaction—curiosity. While writing a 2,000-word entry on any given topic is sure to be informative, it covers a topic to a degree that leaves no room for questions or meaningful interaction. This means that site viewers load the page, read what is provided and then bounce.
Leave a little room in your article for explanation or further questions, add questions or prompts to the end of the article and make the comment section easily accessible. These changes will promote and create interaction between site users and open the door for better reputation and loyalty building.
Social Media Integration
Whether you are simply placing social media buttons near the top of the page or providing a convenient method for viewers to share links to your site with their own social networks, making these options easily accessible encourages interaction and involvement with your site. Best of all, unlike comments, many of these methods create immediate exposure for your site, brand or content without any additional effort on your part.
Integrating social media into your site design is often as simple as inserting a few lines of code. Popular content management platforms, such as WordPress or Joomla, offer a variety of plugins to make the process a breeze. If you are coding from scratch, most social media networks include widgets and other items to easily integrate their features with your site using a simple cut and paste.
Not all forms of interactivity are about content or marketing. Sometimes a visitor might have a question or comment that they do not wish to make public. When this happens, contact forms and prominently displayed contact information are essential. Providing both options on a website allows users to pick their desired method and allows interaction without the need for external programs.
In most cases, contact forms are included on a dedicated contact page for easy discovery and use. Including contact information, such as email addresses or phone numbers, in the header or footer of the website also allows for easy access and encourages interaction without cluttering up the site layout or taking the focus away from the content.
If you are looking to create in-depth interaction between site users, forums allow a level of interaction that few other methods provide. However, forums require a greater base level of users and a little more effort to maintain. If you are using a content management system, plugins and addons make implementing a forum simple. If you are manually coding the site, forum software exists that can be integrated into nearly any site with PHP and mySQL support.
Of course, implementing a forum adds another level of content that must be monitored regularly to ensure it is a thriving and productive form of interaction and not filled with spam and irrelevant content. However, when implemented properly, a forum can hold great power in creating loyalty, encouraging communication and driving return visits.
About the Author: Steven Taylor writes about the Time Warner Cable business class. When he’s not doing that, he freelance web designs.