Saturday, October 18, 2008

A Multi-Sensory Experience

Obviously the web offers a great platform for telling a story, and in the past this was usually done in a very linear way. There was only one way to view information, and really no way to interact with any of the content.

“Interaction Design” in the past only referred to having the user move through the content on the entire site from an information architecture point of view, but didn’t allow any actual interactions or choices within the article or posting.

Now the options are endless. The way we tell stories on-line have become more non-linear, and now allow the user to view the content in any way they choose. Previously static stories (news articles etc.) are now able to offer alternate ways to engage with through streaming web-cam, animation, feedback, comments, sound, video etc.

You prefer reading your information? This is possible. Are you more of a visual thinker? Check out the video. Care to listen to the content while working? Stream the audio. Wonder what other people are thinking? Read the comments.

Web design is moving into a realm where we have to think of all the possible senses, all the possible preferences, all the differences of all the different users, and it’s slowly becoming the most tailor-made experience you can have with a product, brand or service.

This is exciting stuff…

With the up and coming of blogs as a legitimate source for information, Web 2.0, social network sites, and the prevalence of broadband, what “interaction design” means is changing. Web designers are now designing less in the traditional sense (sure we’re still interested in type, color and layout, but it doesn’t end there anymore), and we are now focusing more on designing highly personalized experiences.

Today’s web designers are looking at the whole thing more holistically. Before any design even starts we are now interested in telling a compelling story, and creating a memorable experience. The whole focus has become much more user-centered.

We listen first, and design later…

When you enable your users to choose their own path through your content, and allow them to have a highly interactive and personalized experience you can make them feel less like a faceless user and more like a human being, which sometimes we forget that the users accessing our sites, are well… euhm, actual people.

Good human-centered design is now not only simplicity, support, clarity, encouragement, satisfaction and accessibility, it's also about creating a platform for a highly personalized experience. Allowing the user control of your content is a great way to create affinity and foster positive attitudes towards your brand, company, product or service.

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