The internet is the biggest thing of the 21st century. It has revolutionized the way people think, live, and significantly for businesses, the way customers think and buy.
The website is the new storefront. In most cases, prospects and clients visit the site of a company rather than the store. What it means for businesses is that they should build their website just like their office. Their website should be attractive, and clients should be able to communicate with the company, know about the services, and buy without hassle.
What does an interactive website mean?
In simple words, an interactive website is a website that has engaging content and lets people communicate with it. There isn’t an exact rule that makes a website interactive, but as a rule of thumb, we can say that an interactive website lets people do everything they can in an office.
An interactive website lets visitors know about the services, offers, pricing, and important company info by communicating with the service providers. This is so that people will not need to go to the physical store as long as the product is available online.
If you can’t provide your services through the internet, for example, a hotel or a spa, your website should give your customers all the info they would get if they visited your place.
What are the things that you need on an interactive website?
These are the things that an interactive website consists of:
1. The Brand Story
You should have a very comprehensive About Us Page. It should tell the story and other necessary information about your brand that make visitors feel like they are talking to an actual company informant.
Keep these things in mind while creating the content for your About Us Page to make it more interactive.
Tell your audience about how you started your brand and why you did so. The story can also contain information about when you had the idea about the business, made your first sale, hired your first employee, or opened your factory.
Include your Unique Value Proposition. What makes your company different from others? Unique Selling Points also consists of what value you give to your customers by being different and why they should choose you over your competitors. For example, McDonald’s provides fast food. The value is that the food is inexpensive, tastes good, and saves people’s time.
Your About Us Page should tell your website’s visitors about your brand value, missions, work history, awards and so on. A portfolio of previous clients and even posts about your company’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a good idea.
You could also add some interesting ‘insider things’ that you would show your customer if they visited your store. For example, if you are a biscuit manufacturer, you can put up a video of a biscuit being made in your factory.
Don’t forget to mention your staff members. Add their photos and names, including relevant academic qualifications and other achievements. The idea here is to make the customer feel that they are dealing with real people, rather than just visiting a website.
You should also be careful about the tone that you use. Write your content in a way that mirrors how you would talk with prospects and clients that visit your store.
2. A Good Contact Us Page
Your Contact Us Page should have the information about ways your clients can reach out and talk to you. Mention your phone number, email, and even fax or PO Box if you still use one.
Adding a Map is necessary. Links to your social media will also be helpful.
Furthermore, Contact Us pages can also consist of Work Hours. Others have forms where users can contact various departments and make enquiries.
Keep your contact us page attractive and straightforward. Remember, it is generally one of the most visited web pages of a site.
3. Searchability and Navigation
Just like how companies incorporate a ‘Help Desk’ where visitors can ask the whereabouts of different rooms and departments, your website should have a search box where people can search for the content they want.
The navigation should also be easy. At no point should the user feel that they are lost. This means you should add links to other pages where relevant. Furthermore, the main web pages, including home, about us, contact us, etc. should always be accessible with a click.
You should make searching simple, even within the content page. For example, Growth Pro adds a Table of Content for long articles.
Don’t forget to group related posts together if you have a lot of categories for your blogs.
4. Blogs/ News
Blogs help showcase thought leadership and expertise in your field. People will trust you more when you have good blog posts with valuable information about your industry.
Furthermore, blogs also give your company a voice. You can express your values and opinions with the written content.
Many companies like posting industry news. They wouldn’t want to miss out on things, especially if something happens to them that is worthy of news. For example, you can create a blog post about an award that you recently won.
5. User-Generated Content
User-generated content isn’t only to make your business more interactive, it is also crucial for conversion and retention. Websites with featured user content in their website and social media have seen a 20% increase in return customers.
Successful websites have a forum or a community where users can create blogs, tips, informative articles, and communicate with other users. For example, Samsung has a Samsung Community, where customers, and ‘Samsung Experts’ can communicate with each other by posting content and comments.
Remember, more than 50% of customers wish a brand would tell them what kind of content to post. So, you should give your customers a ‘sense of direction.’ One of the best examples of UGC campaigns would be Coca-Cola’s Share a Coke. In 2014, the soft drink brand added 250 American Names on their bottle. Customers were then prompted to buy a coke with a name that they held close (which could be of their family members, relatives, or friends), and share a post on Social Media with #Shareacoke hashtag. The same year, the company gained more than 25 million new followers.
Creating a review section on your website is just another way of letting your visitors interact with each other. You should let consumers give their views on your product and services and also include a rating system.
Don’t forget to reply to the reviews. This is again, to remind users that they are communicating with the actual company personnel through the website. Additionally, 89% of customers read a business’s replies to reviews and 30% value them very highly so your responses will also affect some purchase decisions.
7. Social Media
2.95 billion worldwide use social media. With platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media platforms being a ‘way of life’ to many people, you can’t miss out on letting them share your posts to their families and close ones.
Your posts should have social share buttons which allow users to share the content instantly onto their social media. Furthermore, you should also add links to your brand’s social media pages.
Another thing you can do is create a social media feed on your website, whereby you can show the latest brand and fan-created social content. For that, you can use a social media aggregator like a Taggbox.
You can also embed social media comments and reviews into your website.
8. Live Chat
‘We will answer your inquiry within 24 hours.’ You may have seen this phrase many times on the internet. It sounds attentive, right?
Actually, nope! Businesses need to hurry. According to HubSpot, consumers expect answers from a support team within 10 minutes
Live Chat increases the interactivity of a website by a considerable margin. All you have to do is add a chatbox on your site with which your customers can instantly get answers to their questions and give feedback.
9. Quizzes, Polls, and Fun Games
You can incorporate quizzes, polls, and games on your website to keep people interested in it. Many websites have taken this approach, whereby you can play games, rather than just communicate with others.
One company that has really done quizzes, polls, and games right is Buzzfeed. All of them are very engaging. The website started in 2006. During that time, it used to be a place only for viral news. As of now, it is one of the biggest independent digital media websites with a global audience of 520 million.
How to Build an Interactive Website for Beginners?
Now that you know the basics of making your website interactive, we discuss the actual process of creating a site itself.
For starters, these are the three things that you need to create a website:
- A Domain Name
- Web Hosting
- A Website Builder Tool
1. Domain Name
The domain name is the name that a user needs to type into their browser to access your website—for example, growth.pro.
To register a domain name, you should first know if the name that you want is available. For that, you need to conduct a Domain Name Search with the help of a website such as Godaddy.
If the name is available, usually, you will need to pay $10 to $30 per year for the registration. If not, you can either choose a different name or buy the domain name from its existing owner, which costs more than first-hand registration (some names can go for more than $10,000).
2. Hosting Server
Hosting server is a computer where all the information on your website will be stored. For example, say you upload an image on your site – it will reside in the hosting server.
There are three types of hosts:
Shared Hosting: In shared hosting, a single server computer stores several websites. Shared hosting is cheaper but slower than others.
Virtual Private Server Hosting: Various virtual machines are allocated inside a single server computer. Each one of them hosts a separate website.
Dedicated Server Hosting: The server hosts a single website. It is the fastest and the most expensive hosting. Some of the best online hosting server providers are Godaddy, Hostgator, BlueHost, Hostinger, and Green Geeks.
3. A Website Builder Tool
What is the Best Free Website Builder?
Here are some of the best website builders that can help you make an interactive website for free:
WordPress is the world’s largest CMS; around 33% of existing websites are based on the tool. There are more than 7400 themes and 50,000 plugins, giving you unlimited design options and a plethora of tools to publish and analyze your web pages.
WordPress is free to use but you will have to pay for some of the themes and plugins. The CMS itself has a lot of templates, but you may have to play around with the code to change some design elements. Anyway, the community is big, and with the software powering a little less than half of the internet, you will find a lot of resources and guides when you are confused.
Official Website wordpress.org
Wix provides you freedom like nothing else in this list. The tool is completely Drag and Drop, meaning that if you think about something, you can move the element on the screen with your mouse and instantly see how your website looks.
There are more than 500 templates to choose from, and there is enough for every kind of website, including a company site, blog, e-commerce, and consultancy business. Furthermore, Wix automatically creates a backup of your website when you add or modify something, meaning that you can revert to the previous design if something goes wrong.
You have to be extra careful while designing Wix websites though. This is because you cannot change the theme once your website goes live. Well, of course, you can still change the elements like colours and text, and add or relocate widgets.
Wix has both Free and Paid plans. However, we recommend you go for the latter because Wix shows advertisements on your website with the free plan. Also, some publishers complain that Wix sites load relatively slower on mobile devices.
Official Website https://www.wix.com/
Squarespace’s features include hundreds of customizable fonts, colours, and page configurations, free Type Kit and Google Fonts, themes and pre-designed layouts for custom design, chart blocks, etc. Furthermore, for every design, they automatically assign a lightweight and fast mobile website.
Squarespace also has a CSS editor which allows you to modify the available 110-ish themes directly. Additionally, you can install more than one theme in a website at a time, and alter between them to know how your site looks with different designs. Publishing and editing is simple, and the UI is interactive as well. All these facts explain the 1.86 million live websites using the web design platform.
Squarespace isn’t free, but they have a 14-day free trial. The pricing starts from as low as $12 a month, which makes the tool worth a try.
Official Website SquareSpace.com
Weebly is similar to Wix. It is an interactive Drag and Drop website creator, which powers around 40 million websites on the internet. A very reliable choice to build interactive websites for free, Weebly also has various tools that help you publish and analyze your website comprehensively.
Weebly comes with a built-in SEO tool, which lets you know how well you have optimized your on-site content for ranking at the top of Search Engines. Furthermore, there are integrated marketing tools that let you create Facebook ads and even automated email campaigns.
You can create a website without coding, but you may have to work with the HTML a little bit, as the Drag and Drop editability is somehow more limited as compared to Wix. There are little more than 40 themes, which may seem a little disappointing when compared with Wix’s 500. Anyway, all of the themes do the job. Weebly websites look exceptional if you can appropriately modify the templates creatively.
Weebly allows you to make an interactive website for free, but with that, you can only use a domain with Weebly branding, i.e. yoursitename.weebly.com. You need to pay to use your own domain. The fees start for as little as $5 a month.
Official Website weebly.com
e. Site 123
Site 123 is for those who are not interested or well-versed in designing, but still want an excellent website.
The builder can make 16 types of sites, which includes Blogs, Business, Online Store, CV, Events, Photography, Recreation & Sports, and Health. You choose one of them, and Site 123 will provide you with a default design where you can make essential modifications to the Headers, site categories and so on.
Site 123 works on something called the Artificial Design Intelligence (ADI). What this means is that you answer a bunch of questions, and the software will make you a site. You cannot be very creative with it and changing the theme is not possible after the website goes live.
Like other tools on this list, Site 123 is free to use, but only for its own domain (www.sitename.site123.me). Furthermore, free plans will show Site 123’s advertisements. The paid program starts at $5.80 per month.
Official website: Site123.com
f. Go Daddy
Go Daddy is a one-stop solution for everything site related. You can register a domain, buy hosting, and with their builder tool, design and deploy a website.
Similar to Site 123, Go Daddy is an ADI. The tool will automatically generate a website for you based on your answers and preference, and you can edit it via the side panel.
If you do your research, you will find that the tool is constantly compared with Wix. Well, Wix is the better one to be honest, because it has better tools and more themes, but the one aspect in which Go Daddy outshines its competitors is the speed.
Go Daddy has 20+ ultra-lightweight templates that look mesmerizing and at the same time, they load very fast on Phone and Desktop alilke. You can change the theme after your website goes live, which is another plus point against Wix and builders like Site 123.
Features include SEO support, website analysis, social media connect, email marketing, GMB, easy Review widget, etc. The pricing starts for $10 a month, but you can get a free trial of 30 days before reaching for your credit card.
Official Website https://aboutus.godaddy.net
Even if you need the above three scripts to create a website, learning them is not a must. Especially with very strong tools like WordPress and Wix, creating a website these days is a piece of cake. What these tools do is let you use a Graphical User Interface to design elements like text, pictures, headings, titles, widgets, etc. on the screen, and automatically do the coding in the background
For example, say you create a site with a WordPress theme, and you want to change the font of the home page title. For that, you need to open the HTML code manually.
How to make an interactive website using Flash?
Conclusion: An interactive website makes a user feel as if they are ‘talking’ to the site, rather than accessing some bland content. It is a platform where businesses and customers can communicate effectively.
As a business, you can add various material to your website, like Brand Story, Chat Box, Contact Us Page, etc., but the idea is to make your site a place where you will always be available when your customers need you.
There are many tools which you can use to make an interactive website, and the one you choose depends on the required features, pricing, and preference.