Immersive web design is a buzzword you may have heard bouncing around digital circles lately. We certainly make no secret of our love for it, but you might still be wondering what the hell it actually means.
Immersive web design and development can actually take many forms, but ultimately it is about imbuing a website with rich multimedia to transform a site visit into a unique experience. The best immersive websites strike a balance between entertainment and information, simplicity and complexity.
So how, exactly, can you nail immersive web design?
Think about the story your brand is trying to convey and the digital journey you want to take visitors on. Then, brainstorm visual formats that will achieve this most effectively. For example, many fashion brands now have virtual showrooms, while travel agencies have elements such as mood boards to help inspire travel plans. The further you find yourself thinking outside the box, the better.
Online interaction is becoming more cinematic and even game-like today, and immersive web design reflects this trend.
There are so many ways (both subtle and overt) to increase the interactivity of your website. Cleverly used graphics can do this, for instance asking visitors to perform an action to reach the next step. To see this in action, take a tour round Abbey Road studio.
The interactive elements on your page need to be seamlessly integrated into the user path, to help immerse them in the story whilst still providing all the necessary information. Good examples include scroll-triggered animations and videos.
When done well, motion makes navigation through a site feel smooth and intuitive, and will swiftly direct the visitor to exactly where you want them. Motion can be incorporated through animation, transitions, scrolling, mobilised graphics or changing perspectives based on mouse movement. With mobile devices and tablets, movement is even more effective. Features such as 360 degree images and videos allow visitors to literally ‘move’ around your site as if it were a real space.
For inspiration, check out http://toyfight.co/.
Sound and music can be a pretty emotional tool but it can be damn hard to get right. It can be used to your benefit but also to your detriment. You want the sound on your site to be engaging, but not too overpowering or distracting. You might choose to have a soundtrack that complements the mood of your page, or sounds connected to a video or animation. For something even more inconspicuous, you can implement sounds that come on when you touch certain icons or scroll over videos. This creates a feeling of exploration and surprise for visitors.
To see a harmonious example, hover around artist Habib Fadel’s works of art on his website.
5. Simplicity on the surface, but complexity below
As cool as interactive elements like layers and motion-activated graphics are, you’ve got to be careful if you want to nail an immersive digital experience. If you don’t strike the right balance, your website can descend into chaos. Immersive web design is a lot of fun, so it can be easy to get a little zealous and go overboard. Just bear in mind that less is more. You want intriguing and engaging, not smack you in the face, motion sickness-inducing madness! The most skilled immersive web designers use complex elements to create a captivating user experience that feels simple, natural and instinctive.
Immersive web design means creating an unforgettable online experience for your visitors and, as a result, leads to increased engagement, brand awareness and leads for your business. To see an example of our own immersive web design, play around on https://earth-agency.com/.