How to Build Engaging Interactive Experiences that Bridge the Gap Between Physical and Digital
We’re living in a reality where the line between our physical and virtual worlds is blurring faster than businesses can keep up. It’s no longer good enough to offer customers a physical or a digital experience – you need both. And you need them at the same time.
Today’s interactive digital installations need to cross back and forth between realms. Physical and digital must be interconnected, and strengthen one another so that together, the two mediums create an environment that’s greater than its parts.
What is Interactive Installation?
Perhaps it goes without saying that an interactive experience ought to be, well, interactive, but the importance of getting this aspect right can’t be understated. Today’s consumer spends every waking hour tapping away on their smartphone. They’re used to being in control and so putting them in the driver’s seat of your experience is key.
Touch screens that allow users to guide and navigate their journey work well for this, and as the market becomes more accustomed to the medium, voice will soon become more of a requisite than a novelty. Alternate input methods include body movement, gestures, motion/floor sensors or even eye tracking.
But no matter how the user inputs, the feedback from the experience needs to be meaningful. Customers must be rewarded for interacting.
Navigation Should Be Intuitive
Unlike a computer, smartphone, or tablet, that mostly use standardized navigation protocols, there are no preestablished rules for the 3D space. Every user that enters your experience will be required to figure out how it works on the fly.
You’ve got to make this process both easy, and exciting.
Utilize the full gamut of options for a more engaging experience, which includes touchscreens, digital signage, floor markups, audiovisual cues (light or sound), and intuitive physical navigation based on well-placed scenery.
Keep Content Short
Long gone are the days where a well-produced and fascinating 20+ minute video will wow your audience at interactive art installations. Modern attention spans are shorter, and so content should be adjusted to match. Feed content in short, powerful bursts that aren’t always linear. Create an experience that can work “out of order” if that’s how the customer chooses to go.
All in the Name of Immersion
The more your interactive digital experience helps the user disconnect from reality and feel as though they’re somewhere else, the more memorable the experience will be.
Think of immersion in both the physical and mental sense. You need the user to see, hear and
feel the environment you’re working to portray but you also want their thoughts to be equally immersed, by virtue of context.
Immersive design is all about using the senses to trigger memories from the user’s past to enhance a specific emotion in the present. Typically, audiovisual technology pulls most of the weight here, but physical experiences such as scents, textures or even temperature changes in the space can be incredibly powerful.
Design for the Whole Human Experience
Related to immersion is to think about how well your interactive digital experience parallels with the real human experience. Screens alone aren’t good enough. Engaging all the senses isn’t just about suspending reality, it’s also part of how you make the experience pleasurable.
A Physical Takeaway from the Interactive Digital Installation
Even the most extraordinary interactive digital experiences will begin to fade from the participant’s mind the moment they start walking away from the exhibit. To keep the memory of the experience fresh longer, offer a complimentary souvenir at the end.
It doesn’t have to be grandiose or expensive. What it needs to be is customized, personal, and emotive. Something as simple as a creative printout that includes a photo of the customer taken earlier during the experience.
What People Want
All the technological knowhow and special effects are worthless if the experience you’ve designed isn’t an experience your customers want to have. There must be a purpose to the story you’re selling.
You can’t make a poor experience great with fantastic technology – but technology can make a great experience absolutely unforgettable.