Engagement is a frequently used term and popular metric in digital marketing. But what does engaging mean? And how can a website be more engaging?
The definition of the word engaging is to attract interest and attention, but it also means for someone to participate or become involved. It can mean making meaningful contact with someone, or engaging them in a conversation or discussion.
An engaging website is one that is interesting enough for people to spend time on. It is also one where users are not passive readers, but active participants who interact and contribute to the site.
Why is an engaging website important?
There are many reasons that a business would want an engaging web design:
- Engagement increases the average session duration, or the time spent on each page.
- Memorable websites encourage users to return again and again, and even tell their friends about them.
- Content like videos and professional photography help a business look better than their competitors.
- People feel good when they can contribute, share their ideas, and become involved in something.
- User engagement is a strategy to collect consumer feedback.
The most engaging websites in 2019
To gain web design inspiration, view the best interactive websites as chosen by awwwards, or the list of innovative web design trends written by Lennart de Ridder. These lists highlight engaging web design features, that you can use or adapt in your own designs.
Technology is forever improving, and the way we use it is forever changing. An important question to ask is, ‘how can I use the technology available to me to improve digital communication and user experiences?’ Innovation and creativity is always behind the most attractive website designs.
Some of the most popular web design trends this year are chatbots, improved video content, professionally created images, forums or groups, and well-designed feedback forms.
Business Insider reveals a study showing ‘43% of Australian consumers engaged with a service chatbot in the past 12 months’. This means that more and more businesses are utilising these online communication tools, and that consumers are actually using them.
Developing a chatbot might be less expensive than you realise, and it can achieve two things. Firstly, it can reduce your expenditure on customer service, and secondly chatbots can earn you new customers.
The purpose of a chatbot is to efficiently and effectively convey information, that might otherwise take several days. Chatbots replace emails that are sent back and forwards to answer customer questions. They can provide real-time answers through your website, so customers can make purchasing decisions there and then.
Chatbots are examples of engaging website features, because they allow web users to become involved, and interact with them.
Websites with engaging user experiences often use some type of video content marketing. Fast Internet speeds around the world, including mobile, means that video is becoming more accessible to more people. In the early days of the Internet, video-based sites failed through lack of technology.
Today, video is alive and accessible. It will continue to evolve, and be used in more places and more ways. The main challenge at the moment, is creating videos with high-production value. Outsourcing video is still expensive, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t the best choice.
Just because you have video capabilities on your mobile phone, this doesn’t mean you should make them for your website. The presence of video doesn’t increase user engagement – an engaging video does. Slow and rambling clips that are shot in your bedroom, are not suitable for an effective business website.
Online video marketing also requires a clear purpose. Creating and posting a video should be linked to your overall marketing goals. Your video should solve your customers’ problems, in ways that can’t be done through text and images. Video clips are excellent for product demonstrations as part of an ecommerce store, and for content marketing storytelling.
Professionally created images
Engaging web design relies on visual assets. Just like video, images can be poorly made. To improve the user experience for a business website, consider the ways to improve your photography and graphic design. Hiring a professional photographer could be the boost your website is looking for – so your products look professional, and your staff members look their best.
Photography can be used to tell stories about your company culture, your values, special events your team are involved in, and the appearance of your workplace. All of these things help build trust, which is extremely important when doing business online. Website photography can be used to show your business is real and legitimate with a human side.
Animated photographs, also called cinemagraphs, is also a new design trend. They can have great impact when used in the right places. We have all seen animated GIFs, but animated photography is usually more beautiful. The movement can be elegant and stylish, and will make your images pop off the page – perfect for an engaging user experience!
Facebook groups are the easiest way to create an online community, for the purpose of promoting your products and services. Forums, bulletin boards, and members only areas can be added to a site. However, most businesses (especially small businesses) choose to rely on Facebook as the platform is already familiar to their customers.
The benefits of Facebook group marketing for business include:
- developing a community that actively supports your business
- an interactive medium for sharing information about products and services
- a method of providing customer service, by answering questions and receiving customer feedback.
An online group, that is hosted on Facebook or any other social media website, can actually form part of your web design. Most of your customers will learn about your group through your website (not through Facebook), so its existence should be promoted through and integrated into your design.
User feedback forms
The secret to successful user feedback forms, that users actually want to fill out, is keeping them fun and simple. A common strategy for newsletter sign-up forms is to write a witty, cheery message above the box where people type their email. There may be a friendly promise not to send spam or use the address inappropriately.
Forms are an important feature of engaging website designs. They allow consumers to provide your business with valuable and personal information. Forms are a requirement for ecommerce shopping carts, and they can collect customer experience feedback.
Unfortunately forms are usually dull and boring. If you are designing a new website, or redesigning your existing website, pay attention to the fine details of your user feedback forms. Make it easy for potential customers to engage with your business.
The future of web design
At Design Point, we like to stay on top of industry trends, through continuous education and research. We offer our clients a full range of services in online branding and digital marketing. Contact us for a chat about improving your current website, or building a fresh new design.