It’s possible that, once upon a time, companies looked at websites as a way to wow, amaze, or impress the viewer. Many of those companies quickly realised that these types of cheap gimmicks only angered their customers and ensured they never returned. Websites aren’t about watching, they’re about interacting.
There are multiple levels of interaction a website can engage in. The first and easiest to obtain is information sharing. These websites should be clean and crisp, without flashy images or other wasteful material that clogs up the site. The information can still be presented in an engaging way, and the site can still be aesthetically pleasing, but the focus should be on providing information to the user.
The next level of engagement is user input. Pottermore is a great representation of what
this level can look like. It shares a great deal of information about the world of Harry Potter, but allows a user to sign up and be sorted into one of the Hogwarts houses, or discover their very own Patronus. Originally the site was a little too distracting, but a recent overhaul has made it easier to navigate (making that information easier to find).
The final level is what we see on social media websites. A constant flow of information presented in an infinite scroll manner, allowing the user to see and interact with the information constantly and as efficiently as possible.
Blogs talk about the infinite scroll, design principles, what’s trending now, but there is one very simple design point that many people tend to forget about. What does your audience want? It’s all well and good to hop on the bandwagon and shout “MOBILE FIRST!” But what if your audience is a group in a senior centre that restricts mobile use? I’m not saying to ignore the thousands of blogs that talk about what’s hip in website design, but use them as a secondary source, a toolbox that you can pull from when you’re looking for ways to bring what your audience requires to life.