Without strong interactive design, your business will fail in the digital age.

Investing in an attractive website isn’t simply a matter of vanity; it’s a requirement for success. A researcher working with customer psychology site Social Triggers reviewed people’s impressions of businesses based on their websites and found that trust is highly influenced by image. In fact, an incredible 94% of study participants disliked websites because of interactive design flaws rather than content.

That means you could have the best products and most valuable information in the world, but if the presentation is lacking, no one will even give your business the time of day!

So what constitutes strong interactive design? A lot of vague words like “usability” and “customer experience” are thrown around, but few people know how they apply on a more concrete level and affect a business’ bottom line.

Below we’ll explain some of these concepts in more detail and share statistics that back up practical, eye-catching interactive design.

Functionality

To find out how a website can offer better functionality, you have to begin by understanding your customers.

Consider the frustration of a visitor waiting in line at an aquarium. When they finally reach the exhibits every room is crowded, rowdy children clamber in front of the glass and musty air makes the experience a claustrophobic’s nightmare. The Georgia Aquarium wanted to buck this stressful trend via integration of an online ticketing system.

They saw an incredible response: More than 70% of visitors purchased tickets through their site. Yet it wasn’t the approach alone that created such groundbreaking success. Other aquariums and zoos had tried selling tickets online but only saw a paltry 8-10% of patrons using their system.

The Georgia Aquarium re-imagined this process with functionality that couldn’t be beat: They offered reservations for specific dates and times during ticket purchase by customizing shopping cart software. This made foot traffic far less chaotic while ensuring the aquarium saw a steady stream of visitors throughout the day.

Usability

Usability has to do with following interactive design practices that make websites intuitive and enjoyable. One of the big concepts has to do with placing content above or below “the fold.” This is the area where a website cuts off at the bottom of a user’s monitor, requiring them to scroll in order to see more.

The topic of the fold has been hotly debated and is too complex to address in a single article, but for now we’ll simply state that visual precedence is important when getting visitors to take action. This was shown when an ecommerce client at Clickz wanted to generate more newsletter subscribers, yet they’d placed their sign-up form near the bottom of the page.

Clickz moved it to the “prime real estate” above the fold and generated 30% more subscribers. Additionally, the redesign didn’t decrease the business’ revenue even though more detailed product information had to be moved lower on the page.

A word of caution: Stuffing all of your key site components above the fold is not a wise interactive design decision, and it can be difficult to determine where exactly the fold lies when many people view the internet on different devices. It’s entirely possible that the Clickz client could have seen similar results if they had provided more cues on their website to show visitors they needed to scroll to sign up.

Although there are many ways this issue could’ve been addressed, the study certainly proves that relatively simple design changes can yield impressive results.

Simplicity

It’s more than a trend: The minimalist, “clean” design of businesses such as Apple and Google allow visitors to navigate easily and feel more satisfied with their experiences. It’s been found that additional white space on a site helps visitors retain 34% more information. Yet while retention is one thing, does white space really affect business’ revenue?

Indeed it does. Use of white space seems to increase conversions anywhere from 5% (shown during Skype’s redesign) to 20% (AquaSoft). There are several things to consider in each business’ case. Skype was already well-known at the time of its redesign and provides a free service to boot. Very little explanation was needed to get users to take action once they arrived, and hence a radically simplistic landing page was successful.

In contrast, Aquasoft changed their layout to be less crowded and more pleasing to the eye. Using well-defined product segmentation, contrasting colors and a clearer service description, white space wasn’t the only thing contributing to the 20% improvement. Still, the more spacious layout clearly influenced customers to browse more, and eventually, buy more.

A continuous process

Although certain practices tend to work well for a majority of websites, there are plenty of features and interactive design elements that should vary based on each individual business. At United Creations we believe that the best websites are created with customers in mind, which then translate into greater loyalty and revenue for our clients. Websites should be innovative, but they should also be practical enough to address users’ needs.

Even huge companies like ESPN place a high priority on design, and their own site revamp increased revenue by an incredible 35%. Taking control of your brand’s image online with a custom, effective website simplifies how your visitors navigate and interact with your site, so that your business see impressive growth as well.

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