Using media to enhance user experience

There are many ways to enhance your user’s experience when they visit your website from simple graphics to full multimedia immersion. Most sites depend on graphics (at least to a degree) to help sell the content. And while as a designer I am all over this because it helps feed my Starbucks addiction, there are sometimes simpler ways to enhance an otherwise decent design that may be in need of a little freshening up. One of the best ways to breath new life into your site is with the discreet use of multimedia.

Although it can be pretty old school in its execution, a little movement goes a long way.

Flash – No matter what Steve Jobs says (and I generally listen) Flash is the best and most accessible way to implement animation on your website. It is fast, it is clean and iPad’s and iPhone’s not withstanding (I know mine aren’t) it is accessible to most people on the net. The only real drawback is the need for an experienced designer to help you out with it (again, happy to feed my coffee addiction with your animation needs) but it allows for you to please most of the senses (sorry no smellivision available, but I am sure someone is working on it) with sight and sound.

GIF – A little more old school but no less effective is the tried and true GIF animation. Although only the flip book of online animation offering no sound to accompany the visual goodness, judicious use of this type of animation can draw attention and revitalize an otherwise flat site.

Although not as compelling as animation, adding sound to your site can enhance the experience for your users as well with the added benefit of you being able to record the audio yourself. Most newer computers (or even older ones for that matter) have some rudimentary capacity to record and play audio. A simple message from you can be enough help draw users in and help engage them with the content of your site.

Given the ubiquity of video enabled cellphones and digital cameras (including the simplicity of the flip video camera) the ability to add video to your marketing endeavors has grown exponentially in recent years. Now, without need for professional assistance (although in some cases it is still needed…seriously…but I digress) anyone can add exactly what they need to show potential customers exactly why what they have to offer is second to none. And to make it even easier, enter YouTube and Vimeo as free resources for hosting your video content while allowing you to stream it directly to your website so it appears to be embedded. Giving you a professional sales tool without the expense.

And while these things have sometimes been considered gratuitous in the past (and still can be depending on your implementation), the media that you are looking to add to your site today ain’t your Mama’s video.¬† It is no longer just about dazzling them with shiny objects. Those shiny objects now serve a purpose beyond drawing your visitors ever closer to the poisoned donut. Recent changes to Google’s search ranking algorithms¬† are giving more prominence to what it considers to be high quality sites which are defined as sites with more original content. And what is more original than the audio and video you are producing for your potential clients?

So what are you waiting for? Get out there – be little Murray Sparkles (and if you get that reference you definitely have kids) and start enhancing both your user’s experience and your site ranking AT THE SAME TIME!