The ‘Fun Approach’ in Developing More Successful Websites – Personality is Key

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Feb 2013
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Author : Pete Peranzo

A beautiful and functional website design comes about as a result of clear requirements and goals. A client may spell out their needs and ambitions in their brief, but no one is going to ask you to have fun while doing it.

We do not usually associate fun with serious web designing, and that is a shame because the two aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive, as we will prove in this post.

In fact, incorporating fun into the web development and design process makes the project enjoyable for people involved and also ends up creating a website that delivers a memorable user experience while capturing the brand’s personality. Here are some ways in which you can achieve this.

Learn from the Fun Theory experiment

The Fun Theory was a Volkswagen project featuring a contest requiring participants to rethink or redesign something they’d come across in everyday life by adding a fun element to it. The purpose was to find out whether people would go for something if it was supposed to be fun. The contest evoked an enthusiastic response, and though the site received several amazing videos, the best one remains the Piano Staircase one, in which the experiment is carried out on a subway station stairway.

The experiment focused on the stairway, located right next to an escalator that was hugely preferred over the stairs by commuters. Overnight, after the closure of the station, the stairs were turned into a set of  piano keys so that whenever anyone would step on them they would make a piano sound.

The following day, as commuters discovered the piano sound-making staircase, the number of people who decided to use the stairs instead of the escalator increased by a whopping 66%! Climbing the stairs was no longer a boring and energy-intensive chore; it was, in fact, fun, and more and more commuters wanted to experience it.

This proves that adding fun and creativity to a project (even a routine and mundane task) will make it more enjoyable and increase its chances of being successful.

Defining ‘fun’

Not all websites can or should be injected with a playful personality. But many can. The focus, however, should remain on creating delightful and memorable websites that are informative, share-worthy and make visitors want to return.

Fun here does not imply that client websites should be transformed into circus grounds. Fun should not be mistaken with silly. It simply means creating a design that is interactive and enjoyable. It is possible to add a sensible amount of user enjoyment and delight without making your client appear unprofessional or childish in the eyes of their customers. Even little changes here and there can make a website more impressive and entertaining.

The trick is to be clear about the amount of playfulness you can add to a website design and to know when you’ve exceeded the limit. There are many websites that have achieved this balance.

Poo Pourri is an excellent example of this. The entire website is infused with a tongue-in-cheek humor. The attention to detail in their content, in line with the overall humor, is impressive. It’s like they have adopted a character to play and don’t step out of it at all. Here’s a company that’s having fun with its online presence!

Improvise on the ordinary

All of a website’s pages can and should be improved upon, even the About Us and Contact pages. You can make them creative as well, thus setting them apart from other pages of their kind.

Get Satisfaction, for example, a customer engagement platform, does an impressive job by injecting personality into their About Us page. What was supposed to be a simple biographical write-up ends up conveying their mission in a memorable way. It would be worth your time browsing their website to see first-hand how to convey an assertive personality via Web design and content.

Similarly, you can get creative with the contact page as well. Think of all the information you want to be there, and then see how you can take the dullness out of it. Here are some helpful contact page examples in this regard.

Turn frustration into fun

Nothing is quite as frustrating as eagerly searching for something on a website, only to end up being greeted by an error page. The 404 error page is commonly encountered on websites, but you can play with that, too! Here are some great examples of creativity around the 404 message.

An error page should also have links to other key pages that users might be interested in. When this is done appropriately during the design process, it is considerably easy to make users smile even when a page is down, and they can find their way around to more reliable and relevant content without getting exasperated.

Make your message memorable

A successful and memorable website design is one that is clear in its purpose and sends its audience a targeted message. Bottling line manufacturer Seamco is a great example of this. If you have the resources to, make use of animation or videos to convey your message in a unique way.

Tell a story

You can also use the art of story telling to get your message across in an impactful manner. Water conservation website Every last drop and wedding announcements portal Jess & Russ do this in a remarkable way. Their narratives hook your interest and stay with you.

Websites need to be professional but professional need not equate to boring. It is possible to have fun designing a website as well as to design a website that is fun, if you are clear about the end user experience to be delivered. Be bold and creative to stand out in the market, which is getting more and more crowded by the day. Focus on delivering a design that is rich in personality and entertaining to use.

 

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