I have a confession to make; I’m not actually a native English speaker. In this day and age, this little tidbit isn’t surprising. I’m pretty sure that if you scour Medium and Wattpad, you’re going to see a lot of exophonic writers choosing instead to write in English instead of their mother tongue. This is going to sound slightly absurd, but video games actually taught me English from such an early age that I’m now more writing in English than I am in Bahasa, my mother tongue.
Yes, you read that right. Even before I grow to love the writings of Nick Hornby, Neil Gaiman and literature in general, video game is my personal ground zero for reading. When some of my friends skipped past through large blocks of text just to get into the actual game, I was content simply taking my time to read everything that is displayed on the screen. If you’re willing to open your mind, video games can teach you a lot of thing, not the least in the world of web development.
The intersection between game design and web design
Websites sit in that weird middle zone between something like a book or a film, where the enjoyment is mostly passive and a full-fledged video game, where its interactive nature requires active participation from the players. During the first decade of the modern internet, in the late 90s up until the late 2000s, websites are little more than a book you can access digitally, static and unmoving. As the years progressed however, the web changed into something more dynamic and even added features for a two-way communication.
What used to be a simple user interface is now referred to as user experience, which encompasses every single facet of connection between the user and the web designers/developers, covering each step of the user’s journey from being a simple visitor into a customer. It’s not unlike the relationship between game designers and the players, where video games are designed in such a way to keep players invested and entertained as they go from the beginning to the final boss.
The way the internet is now, it’s no longer enough for websites to simply have great contents, those contents will also have to be delivered and presented in such a way that won’t overwhelm your users. Video game, being an interactive medium that arguably started with Pong back in 1972, has a two decade headstart ahead of the internet. It’s no surprise then that at this particular moment in time, there’s a number of things web developers can learn from taking a couple pages out of video games.
A cohesive and immersive world
It’s much easier to be immersed in a fantasy world full of elves, dragons and dwarves while playing The Elder Scrolls, a series of fantasy role-playing games, than when you’re reading or watching Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy. Video games work better as escapism because video games ask for your active participation. Obviously, it’s too big to ask websites to have that same feel of immersion but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try.
Every facet of your website, from the use of colors, fonts, images and the actual contents should be working under one singular direction. Getting visitors to visit your website might be easy, but ensuring that they’ll stick around is possible only when your website can command such undivided attention upon your visitors. Wouldn’t it be nice for example to have your visitor open 10 tabs at the same time and all of them from your website?
Consider your user’s journey
Things would be much simpler if the buying process simply consists of a user seeing your products, buying your products and then using your products repeated ad nauseam. For simple, disposable things such as AA batteries and a roll of toilet paper, no critical thought might be necessary but move up the ladder and all sorts of consideration might be necessary. This is what is described as a customer’s journey, detailing each and every step customers take as they went from visitors, interested visitors, potential customers and then finally, paying customers.
Outright sales pitch is no longer acceptable in this modern world, where video games can actually teach you a thing or two. I mean think about it, you don’t jump into a video game expecting to fight a dragon or be thrown in a large-scale firefight at the outset. No, you start with a tutorial of some sorts as you gradually work your way up the food chain. The layout of your website should reflect this journey, easing in your visitors gradually as they complete their journey.
The process of gamification and instant gratification
One of the reasons why social media platforms can be addictive is because of the likes. Numbers are now an inherent part of the internet and we have video games to thank (or blame) for that. This process is what’s referred to as gamification, where a website’s interactive feature is used to give users a sense of ‘victory’. In video games, does it not feel good whenever you defeat an enemy and see your level goes up by one, followed by a corresponding increase in your character’s statistics?
Now, those features might not work with every type of website but even adding a couple of interactive touches here and there is enough to increase engagement from your visitors. As has been said before, the more things you could do to ensure that your website isn’t just a one-way street; the more likely it is for your visitors to be engaged in whatever you’re trying to do.
Make sure your website works as well as it was supposed to
It’s too much to expect every single video game to look as breathtaking as the latest Assassin’s Creed but no matter whether we’re talking about a blockbuster video game or a passion project of an independent developer, we still expect them to work as advertised. None of the three things outlined here would work if the website isn’t working. Broken links, missing elements and bugs are not acceptable. Always test every part of your website to ensure that everything is in working order.