Why Microsites Are The Next Big Design Trend

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“Why are you going in that room? The psychotic killer that’s been stalking you for half the movie is in there!” Sound familiar? We’ve all be that person as some point, sat so engrossed in a movie that we are entirely unaware we’re blurting out what’s about to happen next. Conjecture as it may be, it’s nothing more than human nature to want to be ‘involved’ and in some cases, in control of what is about to unfold before our eyes. Storytelling, while never faltering from its purpose of engaging an audience, has invited new format inroads for narratives to take shape, with one in particular set to reverse the roles at play.

For anyone who was a preteen in the 90s, you would have likely encountered the hugely popular ‘Goosebumps’ books series and it’s innovative format. It was the first mainstream attempt of its kind to give the reader back some control, offering up a list of scenarios for selection as to how the book should end. What’s the big deal right? Well, think about how this kind of approach could apply to businesses today. Publishers were onto the power of design-led thinking way ahead of its time, delivering engaging entertainment and giving the consumer an ‘in’ simultaneously.

It’s both smart and necessary when you consider today’s demanding audience. Netflix, the original content powerhouse, has long been a proponent of this way of thinking. They’ve transitioned from a DVD mail service, to a streaming platform, to an original content hub in just a few short years. An impressive business story sure, but it’s what they have managed to achieve by willingly following the lead of their viewers to determine what’s next in their roster of big ideas. The latest thing to cause a buzz? Bandersnatch – Netflix’s new interactive content show. Rolled out as part of the popular Black Mirror series, they have introduced a layer of complexity we have unconsciously been hoping for; a means for taking control of the narrative by choosing our own ending. Netflix has proven there is no longer a linear way of telling stories, at least not for streaming, and for the sake of creatives and viewers alike, that’s news worth perking up for.

Not too far away in the world of business, a similar evolution is taking place. With attention spans waning and customer expectations of experience heightened, it’s no surprise that interactive design has pierced through to the way businesses are communicating with their audiences. As is the case with one of the most successful entertainment platforms, it’s about continually adapting methods to not only captivate an audience but engage them too. Businesses are starting to recognize that Netflix’s winning formula of dynamic interaction is one that can be replicated to sell, educate and inform better than any static marketing means ever could.

Intertwining the use of data and tech developments, we’ve seen an entirely new purpose for dynamic microsites in engaging with users in real-time on a living subject matter with branded content. Scrollable pages that shift with the user or react to certain clicks, taps or cursor movement are all part of the marketing aim to dispel information in a lively, and in some cases, gamified and interactive way.

A fantastic example of an interactive microsite that led to greater SEO benefits is Red Bull’s digitally interactive microsite for fans of famous ultrarunner, Karl Meltzer. The site offers its followers an engaging digital experience by journeying through the personal notes of the athlete’s adventures. Another great example is one of ‘cause worthy’ content with an awareness aim. Waterwise created a very clever and colorful microsite in partnership with EveryLastDrop.co.uk to inform the public on water wastage in the UK and what to do to reduce it. As the user scrolls down, they’ll see an animated character moving throughout his day, along with useful facts and statistics about our current water usage. And let’s not overlook the power of turning bland report copy into a simple, yet active alternative. One of my favorite examples is the Lucidworks’ site revealing the scale and real cost of lost data. As you scroll to the depths of the ocean, you’ll see how data is generated, analyzed, and where unused data goes. I could go on forever….Poppyfield, a captivating reflection on human life lost in war, and Peoplemov, an eye-opening look at migration flows across the world.

Whatever way you choose to narrate your brand, your offering or even your campaign, today’s business climate is one that requires a give and take approach with your audiences. Offer them a lively story that captivates their attention and delivers on that prime user experience they have come to expect, and you can be sure that the end will be one of your own choosing.

Infographic.ly creates live data visual materials in the form of Microsites, Dashboards, Interactive Infographics, and Motion Graphic Videos with the end user in mind.