We’re being asked to create ‘immersive’ experiences more and more. It’s the most loaded word in every digital brief, but what does it actually mean?
Broadly speaking, immersion is defined as “digital technology or images that deeply involve one's senses and may create an altered mental state”. But I would go one step further. For me, a successful immersive experience is one so rich and interactive that the user is willing to be submerged in a brand’s world and take the time to explore it.
Obviously VR can help brands achieve true immersion, but outside of that space, what can we do on the web to achieve that brand-submersion?
• Non-linear narrative – map the concept like a game (and borrow from gaming behaviours), move out of the confines of linear storytelling into a playful matrix that can be explored.
• Great UX – although the landscape may be complex, the way to navigate it still needs to be intuitive. Keep the needs of users front and centre and provide multiple ways for them to explore.
• Rich content – immersive sites fly or die on the production quality and use of the photography, film, animation and audio within them.
• Devices – build the experience around the native behaviours of each device (better still, provide added interactions for multi-device users and little gems specific to mobile).
• Don’t lose sight of the engagement objectives – what do we want users to do, learn, share or buy and how do we gently steer them towards that?
• Interactive surprises – if a user is taking the time to explore, how can we reward them? Added content, games, and interactive tools all help to build the immersion and drive engagement.
• Intimacy – Immersive experiences are inherently intimate. Build in techniques to help the user shut the world out, tailor their choices and enjoy the journey!
Some sites that we’ve been losing ourselves in recently: