Websites have come a long way. We started out with simple HTML commands. From there, the internet blossomed as we developed more scripts, design platforms, and content management systems. With hundreds of millions of sites on the web, the internet has become a rather impressive place. With so many sites out there, it can be difficult for your site to stand out from the crowd. One way to make your sites more noticeable and dynamic is through interactivity.
Interactivity encourages the user to actively participate with your site. Many times, the viewer has to even work a little for the information they seek, making the content more meaningful and enjoyable. Interactivity is all about fun at the expense of efficiency – by establishing an element of play derived through curiosity, the user is forced to journey with your content rather than simply read through it. Having a more enjoyable site invites users to spend more time on your site and even visit it again. It also adds to the site’s personality and helps establish a lasting impression. The technology to awe and captivate people is there – so why not use it?
A website is no longer just there to provide information. We’ve moved past that. Websites should still provide information, but in a thoughtful, well-designed fashion. Taking one step further, memorable websites create an experience for the user. Here are 15 sites that have done this effectively. These sites engage the user through interactivity and elegant design. Click around and notice how your attention is captured and your curiosity piqued. Such is the power of interactivity.
Australian communications company, Optus, demonstrates how to effectively engage an audience through creative means while still communicating their message and product. Their whale song campaign is provocative, interactive, and simply beautiful. Even though I don’t live in Australia, I clicked around their real site to check out the company because I was so inspired by their whale song interactive.
2. Rapp Collins Worldwide
2advanced made this site for Rapp Collins Worldwide, where the organic and synthetic meet in a most elegant design. The navigation is fluid and things are constantly in motion. A hummingbird servers as your companion throughout the site and there are a lot of refreshing surprises. Using this site feels like an exploration.
3. A Website Named Desire
MIX Online, a community of web designers and developers made an interactive poster that goes into gross detail, a behind-the-scenes peek of what it takes to create a website. The poster discloses everything – the formal processes, the team of people, and the quirky conversations and thoughts. You can zoom in and out and move room to room, person to person. Navigating through this poster world was almost like the real thing.
Meomi is a graphic design firm with a whimsical aesthetic. They have a simple site filled with fun secrets and characters. Spending some time exploring the nooks and crannies of the home page will leave you smiling.
5. The Seen
Another design firm, The Seen, uses elements of grunge and banality to build their site. They incorporate movement in physically constructing each page: paint splattering down, a posters flying in from the left and pushpins coming in from the top. It’s surprisingly captivating to watch each page load.
AgencyNet invites you into their office, literally. This digital agency’s site is an interactive office, modeled after their real offices. On the home page you have the option to visit their Florida office or their New York office. Each room takes you to a new page – even the new pages are interactive. For instance, you have to draw with your mouse in order to navigate their “Culture” page. They do a great job of incorporating fun into web surfing. I don’t even need a digital agent, but I found myself spending significant time on their website because of its interactivity.
7. Messages for Japan
After the tsunami that devastated Japan, Google and Fantasy Interactive created “Messages for Japan,” a forum for the world to connect and show support. It’s a fairly simple concept – people post messages for others to read. But the interface is dynamic, interactive, and well-designed. Google Translate allows you to read what others in the world are writing and Google Maps shows where each post is written from. It beats scrolling down a list of text.
8. We Feel Fine
One of Jonathan Harris’s many interactive projects, “We Feel Fine” gauges the emotions we’re feeling as a society. From the millions of blogs that are being written, Harris’ program collects sentences that have the phrase “I feel…” Each sentence is represented by a colorful dot and when put together, the result is a swarming mass of colorful dots. You can click on one and read the sentence. You can also organize the filter the data by emotion, gender, age, location, and weather. It’s highly interactive and makes you feel connected to others who feel the same as you.
9. Neon Bible
Music videos have been around for a while now and not much has really changed in this field. Lady GaGa is pretty revolutionary, but her music videos are still a one-way passive viewing experience. The Arcade Fire pushed the limits of the music video in their music video site for their single “Neon Bible.” The music video is never the same since you can interact with it for the duration of the song. I accidentally listened to the song three times in a row because I kept on wanting to play with the site. The song is still stuck in my head.
10. Tin Man (SyFy)
The site for SyFy Channel’s miniseries “Tin Man” is stunning. Nine artists collaborated on a zoomquilt, creating an endless dizzying and immersive environment , fit for the surreal world of Oz. This rendition of Oz would make me never want to return to Kansas.
If you haven’t seen the hand-made, stop motion film, Coraline, visiting this site will change your mind. The official site for the film allows you to step into and interact with Coraline’s otherworldly environment. There are several locations within this world and plenty of things to click and explore. Interacting with the site transported me into the movie. I felt curious, like a kid again. I spent far too long on the site, meaning it is a thoroughly engaging site.
12. Tim Burton
Tim Burton is a master at creating immersive environments in his movies, so it’s no wonder that his official website is the same. You navigate his site as “Stain Boy,” using your keyboard arrows to walk through an art gallery. Having to physically navigate this avatar through a space makes for a complete experience. The site is thoroughly designed, with every pixel having Tim Burton’s style etched into it.
13. Paula Hayes
Paula Hayes is a modern artist who crafts natural materials in an interesting way. Her site reinforces the aesthetics of her artwork – it’s beautifully simple, natural, and streamline.
14. Mr. Brainwash
Mr. Brainwash is a street artist featured in the film, Exit Through the Gift Shop. The site is thoroughly stylized to feel like a grungy city street, which suits Mr. Brainwash’s purpose. The homepage is littered with a curious collection of buttons, signs, and objects. As a viewer, you’ll find yourself itching to know whether or not something is clickable and if so, where it leads to. There’s a sense of humor in the site with visual puns and a big “DO NOT PUSH” button.
15. Tejo Remy – Rene Veenhuizen
Dutch design team Tejo Remy and Rene Veenhuizen produce furniture that verges on modern art. Their site presents their work in a most fitting way – popping out in bright yellow against a scrolling black and white photo collage. The navigation of the site is refreshingly unique and the design of the site just screams modernity.
Without doubt, interactive sites leave lasting impressions on users. Interactivity encourages users to linger a bit longer, explore further, keep coming back, and recommend the site to friends. Using interactivity, you can create engaging experiences and immersive environments to really captivate your audience. Compared to static sites, interactive sites feel alive. These 15 websites are all elegantly designed, effectively incorporating interactivity into their message.