If you’re thinking about entering your latest interactive project in the 16th Annual Webby Awards (deadline: Dec 16) here’s some advice straight from David-Michel Davies, the WA Executive Director:
Content is Key: For a website to be engaging to a user, it needs to have good content that is relevant and appropriate for its audience. The content on a website must be clear and concise as it acts as a voice for a particular brand and expresses a business’ motto and point of view. It may be informative, useful, or funny, however it always leaves the user wanting more.
Structure and Navigation go hand-in-hand: Websites must have good structure and navigation in order to be consistent, intuitive and transparent. Customers and readers need to know where to find things on the website easily, and what to expect when they click on icons. Good navigation gets the user where he or she wants to go quickly and offers easy access to the website’s content.
Visual Design creates an experience: Visual design is more than just a pretty homepage. It doesn’t have to be cutting edge or trendy, but should be high quality, appropriate, and relevant for the audience and the message it is supporting. A website’s visual design communicates a visual experience for its readers and allows them to become more engaged with the content.
Make the most out of Functionality: Good functionality means the website works well and loads quickly and, of course, has live links. Website creators need to make sure that any new technology that is being used on the site is functional and relevant for the intended audience. The site should work across multiple platforms, including mobile, and not be dependent on a particular browser. Highly functional sites anticipate the diversity of user requirements from file size, to file format and download speed. The most functional websites also take into consideration those with special access needs.Good functionality makes the experience center stage and the technology invisible.
Participate in Interactivity: Good interactivity is more than a roll-over or choosing what to click on next; it allows a website’s user to give and receive information and insists that he or she participates, and not just act as a spectator. Effective websites create input/output, as in searches, chat rooms, e-commerce and gaming or notification agents, peer-to-peer applications and real-time feedback. These interactive elements are what separates the web from other media.
Overall Experience brings users back: The bottom line is that companies want their customers and users to have a positive overall experience that entices them to revisit the website. An effective website encompasses content, structure and navigation, visual design, functionality, and interactivity, but it also includes the intangibles that make a user want to stay. You can judge if a user has had a good experience if he or she comes back regularly; places a bookmark on the page; signs up for a newsletter; if the user engages and participates; shares the site with a friend; or stays on the site for a while.