Beyond quizzes: producing less lazy interactive content

Meetings revolving around interactive content often start and finish with 'we should make a quiz'. You shouldn't, and here's why.

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NOTE: This content isn't interactive. Hopefully by the end of the piece it'll be easy to understand why!

Do you ever get a feeling that the idea of interaction is far more exciting than most of the actual interactive content you can find on the web these days? You're not alone – many industry professionals would agree that online channels are drowning in lazy, poorly designed interactive elements, a huge chunk of which are quizzes and simple tests. It’s fair to say that many businesses are underutilizing the potential of multimedia communication by settling for an overused format that just doesn’t move the needle anymore.

To truly understand why producing bad interactive content may be worse than not producing it at all, we need to step back and think about the primary role interaction should play in a sound business model. In other words, we need to put the user in focus and analyse how to motivate them to actively participate in the marketing campaign and ultimately make the purchase.

Interaction as engagement tool

The reason why most companies add interactive content to their online platforms is that they've been told it's goog for search engine optimisation. While this is true in general, doing interaction (or almost anything) just for the sake of SEO is a terrible idea, and it signals a failure to understand the need for customer engagement.

The objective of a two-way interaction should be to facilitate a conversation, not to trick the user into visiting a page that they see no organic connection with. Putting a random quiz with selected keywords on your site might push you a bit higher on Google search results and inflate the traffic stats, but it’s unlikely to lead to a noticeable change in either sales volume or customer satisfaction. For that to occur, you need to create interactive content that elicits genuine interest. This type of content might even tick the "go viral" box that you or your bosses want to tick.

Tying interactive media to tangible business goals

To move beyond lazy, generic content, it’s necessary to think of ways to express the essence of your business offer through a fun and user-friendly interactive format. A small company selling video games shouldn’t have the same approach to interactive design as a B2B corporate giant in the insurance industry. This principle sounds obvious, but organisations from all lines of business are too often reaching for the "low hanging fruit" and ending up with suboptimal content. The final outcome is that interaction is still seen merely as a gimmick and not an essential business tool, with invisible but sizable damage done to revenue streams. Learning how to fully integrate interaction with company branding and promotion is the key to success, and it might take some work behind the scenes to get things moving in this direction.

Production complexity vs. practical usability

There are two factors that considerably affect the selection of formats and content style and these must always be taken into account when creating interactive content. Time and effort needed to create high-quality interactive elements must be balanced with the expected impact of those materials. On the other hand, it is imperative to keep the interactive content simple and user-friendly or it won't be received well despite its technical and conceptual qualities. While those limitations may rule out some of the most ambitious ideas, they also serve to focus the efforts to develop an interactive campaign that could actually make a difference in practice. To be fun, the interactive experience must be smooth and intuitive and this can only be accomplished if your materials work on every device and require little attention and skill to use correctly. Assuming the perspective of a user when designing interactive content is a good practice that ensures the end result won’t be too far removed from the reality on the web and the preferences of the users.

Why are quizzes a generally poor format?

A quiz with multiple answers is one of the simplest and most common formats of interactive content found online. Yes, simplicity is a good thing, but in this case it has led to massive oversaturation of the digital platforms with very similar content, making it nearly impossible for the user to make the connection with your brand. In fact, some of the more active users have seen so many quizzes that they are intentionally ignoring any new examples regardless of who created them. A quiz typically doesn’t have much visual punch either, so the interaction is reduced to the textual modality at the expense of more dynamic media forms such as video or animation. With modern tools for interaction design, it is a waste to stay limited to just one communication channel.

How to use interaction to create customer loyalty?

It is very easy to get rid of quizzes, but designing effective interactive elements to replace them with is a much greater challenge. It may be difficult to meet all the requirements outlined above, but even making small steps forward will have an immediate refreshing impact on your communication with existing and potential customers. Smart companies use this channel to feel out the pulse of the market and get early feedback on some bold ideas, while others focus on building brand loyalty and rewarding users that consistently consume their interactive content. It’s all about good ideas and strategic planning, since you can always enlist the help of a professional content management company like Prestanda to take care of the technical side.

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