Do you want to make someone who is considering your product actually purchase it? An interactive tool can help inform consumer decisions on a product, service or subject matter as well as influence a user’s perception of your brand. By creating an engaging user experience with meaningful content you can shift a consumer from just considering your product to an actual purchase. The type of interactivity, features, and depth of the experience will depend on both the content and your target.
MAKE THE CONTENT THE CENTER OF THE EXPERIENCE
Based on the desired outcome you would like users to gain (for example, customize a shoe or car, compare features between products), defining what type of content you would like to feature will drive the concept and interactivity.
Organize content in a way that allows users to make objective decisions. Make meaningful content consumable and present highly technical features in their most simple form initially. Allow for more detail to be easily accessible when needed but don’t overwhelm the experience by presenting everything at once.
An example of this is MINI’s interactive tool that lets users design their car by choosing from several features and accessories all housed within intuitive categories. Compare that to AutoTrader’s less experiential version that is bland and forgettable.
IMMERSIVE DOESN’T HAVE TO BE FLASHY
Whether you want to lead a user down a path or let users explore and create their own, try to reduce the noise along the way. You don’t need lots of video or photos to create a captivating experience. Emphasize content and let that inform your framework for interactivity. Simplify navigation or button elements to enhance your subject matter, not get in the way of it. NikeiD is the classic example of a simple user interface that serves to highlight the hero of the site, the customized shoe.
INDICATION OF PROGRESS
There isn’t a magic number of “steps” or categories to show progress or items completed since the experience you are creating is based on the content of your subject. Adding an indication of progress or steps to complete creates focus and provides users a sense of achievement. They can also make something seem more attainable, less overwhelming, and set expectations for what comes next. Kia’s Build and Price tool groups features for customizing a car into 5 fundamental categories allowing users to know where they are in the car making process.
When incorporated with tracking having a progress indicator can also provide you insight into areas of success or improvement within the user’s experience.
If you aren’t able to create a separate mobile experience at the very minimum make your interactive tool mobile friendly. The benefit to making a separate experience fit for mobile is you can tailor both the interactivity and display of content to celebrate the viewing constraints of mobile.
MINI’s interactive car designer provides the same amount of options to choose from when designing a car through an interface more suitable for mobile without sacrificing the experience.
Let user’s share their creation or result with friends. If they are interacting to learn more about a product or service, allow users to print their result to bring in-store or send directly to a sales representative. Disney’s Monsters University Create-A-Monster app allowed users to share their monster student through various social channels as well as download an image and print their university ID card.