SXSW Interactive Part 1: Are you getting enough “wow” from the Internet?
Whether you make films, write books, or create websites, connecting with an audience consists of two different components: what you present and how you present it. During the past five days I’ve been in Austin, Texas, at the South by Southwest Interactive conference, I’ve been thinking a lot about the second part of the equation in respect to creating a compelling web experience.
South by Southwest Interactive, in case you are unfamiliar with it, is a conference that brings together massive hordes of techies and creatives and creative techies for lots of panels, schmoozing and plenty of twittering (ok, and also a lot of BBQ and tacos, at least in my case). Conference attendees take for granted the stuff that websites are made up of: words, content, code, but we don’t often think about changing up the method of presentation. What happens when you put the navigation bar on the bottom of the screen? Or when you take over someone’s browser with a film trailer that seems to burst out of the frame? Do you give the viewer a “wow” moment that elicits a sense of delight or curiosity?
There are important reasons for thinking about these things. In a panel called Presenting Straight to the Brain, it became clear that there’s a disconnect between the way the mind and the more primitive roots of our caveman brain perceive all the sensory information that we are constantly bombarded with. Think of the last time you began wondering about lunch in the midst of a pie-chart laden Powerpoint presentation at work. The cavemen brain needs exciting visual stimuli wedded to a compelling words, is the way the argument goes. The caveman craves a story.
And with innumerable daily interactions with websites, the average Internet user needs a little more “wow.” You can check out some examples of unnatural experiments in web design here (try resizing the browser), here (click on the worm on the bottom of the screen) and here, but I’d be curious to know, when was the last time you were wowed by what you saw on a particular website or interactive application? And once you’ve been wowed by a website, do you keep coming back?