Designing for Impact and Immersion (aka, How to Lower Bounce Rates)

I tend to distinguish between these two broad objectives as designing for impact on the one hand, and designing for immersion on the other. What defines them is interruption. Impact needs an attention-grabbing interruption. Immersion requires us to remove interruption from the interface. Careful design deliberately interrupts but doesn’t accidentally disrupt. If that seems to make sense to you, then you’ll find the following snippets of science as useful as I did.

I just came across this post on 24 Ways today. Brilliant, quite honestly.

The writer goes on to talk a lot about scan paths and eye movements and the letter Z. All interesting stuff. I used to, and often times still do, design sites so that the top portion of the website is beautiful, eye catching and makes the necessary impact to get the user to stick around. Then, as the content scrolls down the page, I try and eliminate the bulk of the design…sometimes fading completely into white or whatever the background color is.

This concept is lost on the client almost 3/4th of the time and, though I win the battle sometimes, with those clients intelligent enough to let the designer do his job, it’s always a several email back and forths kind of situation. Perhaps now I have a post where I can simply refer folks in lieu.

In summation, though, remember that design is a tool. It is to be used with purpose. The very first purpose it has is to get all of those people who come to the site and give you less than 5 seconds of their attention before deciding whether to move on or not a reason to stick around.

After that, it must immediately have a different purpose. Whether that is to get someone to purchase something or read your content, or whatever really, depends on what the design should be like throughout the rest of the page. If you are writing long chunks of content though that require page after page of scrolling to get through, I would argue that the purpose of that page is to get the reader to consume your information. Therefore, don’t continue to blast them with loads of graphics and sidebar information while they’re trying to do that.

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