When creating a website you need to find a balance between conveying information and providing an experience.
With a more informational website you rely on simple navigation and structure to help users find what they need, and smart call to actions that collect information from them.
With a more experiential website, users are often guided in certain directions and presented with a framed story or argument. The pages feature more dynamic content (rich photography, long copy, video or even VR) and are connected to the previous and next page in some sort of narrative.
Your business goals determine the balance between these two styles. If you need to make an argument, tell a story or promote an event, a more experiential website is what you need. The following 5 are some of the best examples I could find.
- The Climate Reality Project: The goal of this website is simple: get users to sign a petition that supports the advancement of environmental protection. But instead of being greeted with an abrupt “please sign our petition,” users join a question-and-answer game. The first question is “Do you live on earth?” If users answer “No”, a cute cartoon calls them out on their bluff; if they answer “Yes” then they’re asked to sign a petition to save the earth. The website goes on like this, with each question being sarcastic and simple, but also fun and engaging.
As users play with this jest-filled website, watching and rewatching cute animations and videos, the concept is slowly seeping into their consciousness: either we save the planet or we don’t, and the choice is all too obvious.
- Epic Ireland:Epic Ireland is an exhibit in Dublin, but because this interactive website is so good I initially thought that it was the Epic Ireland exhibit. But nay, it’s merely an iceberg tip glimpse at the history and stories covered at the exhibit.From a blurb about Grace Kelly to a look at a photographer’s new exhibit, the content users find in this website is extraordinarily webbed together through creative navigation, and fleshed out with interactive functions–almost like the museum itself. In this case, an experiential website was absolutely necessary to convey the experience of the exhibit.
- Healing Histories: This website, built to tell stories of social and cultural improvements in New Orleans’ post-Katrina communities, is rich with video, looping images and audio journalism that make the experience feel more like a documentary than a website. But unlike a real documentary, this website allows viewers to move through at their own pace and pick specific content sections to focus on.This type of digital experience is the perfect choice for a business or organization that wants to tell multiple, multi-layered stories all in one space.
- Quecha: What Quecha actually sells is not the first thing you see when you visit their website. In fact, it’s not the second either. The homepage gives users five different paths to choose from–hiking, camping, backpacking, trekking, speed hiking–and from there, a page loads with a beautiful, full-page image relevant to the user’s choice. If they choose camping, they’ll see a photograph of a couple at their campsite, as well as details about the location. Only after Quecha has put that idyllic picture in the user’s head do they move downward to the third page to check out deals on camping gear.It’s subtly experiential, but enough so that it puts shoppers in an ambitious, adventurous mood before they shop. Once they reach the bottom of the shopping page, they’re prompted to check out another adventurous activity, followed by more gear.
- Next Rembrandt: This website is proof that we’re living in a truly innovative time for advertising. The Dutch banking institution ING wanted to promote themselves as an innovative institution that uses data to improve the way people bank. What did they do to convey this mission? They gathered enough data to enable a machine to remake a famous Rembrandt painting, then they made an interactive website to promote the effort, followed by a mini-documentary as a case study for the campaign. Those are three major attention grabbers and examples of immersive content all conveying the same message: ING innovates through data.
There’s a range of content that can be used to create an experience for your audience, as well as different ways of stringing them together. As always, there needs to be a balance between engaging features and useful information.
A boring website won’t encourage users to dig for more information, and an overdone, complex website won’t allow for users to get the information you want to give them. The purpose of your website will dictate what kind of mix you need.
If your business or organization is in need of an experiential website, or you would like to discuss creative ways to tell your story online, feel free to give us a shout!