Immersive websites transport your audience into another world through interesting user experiences.
With design elements centered on capturing attention, immersive websites inspire people to actively participate with the content rather than passively looking through it. This can be through a number of techniques, and often a combination of many, including interactivity and animation. While they may appear complex to achieve, with the rise of new design tools and no-code platforms, immersive websites can be created by anyone daring enough to imagine them.
What is an Immersive Website?
Immersive websites offer heightened user experiences that inspire visitors to fully explore them. An immersive website keeps its users at the center, combining visuals, content, and interactivity aimed at making their visit enjoyable and connecting with them on a deeper level.
Immersive web experiences vary in complexity, and can be anything from a digital VR experience to a more subtle website making use of 3D, augmented reality and interactive web design elements. The latter is what we will focus on in this article, but don’t be fooled—these websites can often be perfected to mimic the VR experience.
Immersive websites offer a more engaging user experience. Elements like 3D visuals, horizontal scrolling, music, and other features, provide something more than standard websites, compelling visitors to stay longer, share them, and remember them—all of which increases brand awareness.
There are many different ways of using immersive websites:
- Brands and non-profits build focused interactive and immersive websites to support marketing, raise awareness around a topic, or launch products.
- Agencies and designers with online portfolios integrate immersive website design elements to showcase their work in an elevated and interesting way, enabling them to capture the attention of potential clients.
- Tech startups launch immersive websites to set themselves apart from the intense competition, and to create excitement about what they’re doing.
When you want visitors to spend more time with your content, immersive websites offer user experiences focused on keeping them engaged.
Immersive websites offer heightened user experiences that inspire visitors to fully explore them.
Common Design Techniques Used to Create an Immersive Website
A micro-interaction is an interactive element on a web page that triggers a small reaction in the UI. Once visitors have clicked, swiped, scrolled, or hovered, a micro-interaction responds with immediate feedback in the form of animation, audio, or other visual effects. They’re often used to show a change in state, kick off a transition, or reveal new content, adding to the interactivity of a user experience. Immersive websites will undoubtedly include a number of micro-interactions which help create the overall immersive web experience.
An example of micro-interactions can be seen on the immersive website for Mirrows, an NFT digital art business which offers a horizontally-scrolled journey through an experimental and minimalist design. You’ll find several subtle micro-interactions throughout this Vev-built website, starting with the cursor which turns into a black dot trailed by one that’s smaller. It has a liquid sense of motion that provides strong contrast to the solid lines of its grid layout. This not only adds to the eclectic atmosphere, but acts as a guide in showing visitors where they are scrolling.
Another popular design technique found on many websites is parallax, which creates the illusion of three-dimensionality by varying the rates of what appears on screen, generally setting elements in the foreground to move faster over the background as a visitor scrolls. Parallax scrolling draws people in with a sense of depth and space, immersing users in the content.
Built in Vev, Zero’s microsite Klimalosninger speaks not only to the importance of reducing Norway's carbon dioxide emissions, but in developing technologies that will remove it from the environment. This website features several parallax effects that set quick moving text over background photos and videos, using bold visuals to set a scene that users explore as they scroll.
Three-dimensional objects draw visitors in with a sense of depth and space that models the physicality of the real world. Some immersive websites utilize 3D elements sparingly in highlighting visuals or other features, while others offer fully developed augmented reality-inspired user experiences.
See below for an example of the type of 3D element that can be created in Vev. D2, a Norwegian newspaper, included a three-dimensional object in their article covering 30 notable people under 30 who are contributing to making the world a better place. At the top of the article, a 3D carousel displays a globe of photos of these noteworthy individuals. Visitors can spin through these photos by clicking and dragging, with numerous hot spots that link to full profiles. This is a departure from traditional carousels, with a refreshing look and feel that captures people’s attention right away, immersing them in the content.
Audio and Video
An immersive website can combine a variety of different media in crafting rich user experiences. Audio can act as a soundtrack, lending to a website’s ambiance. It can also be in smaller touches, providing feedback to visitors and signaling when they’ve triggered a UI element or action. Just like audio, video can add an entirely new dimension in how someone experiences a website, as well as visually enhance the experience.
Sarn Oliver is an accomplished violinist as well as a visual artist. This 360 degree three-dimensional immersive website design guides visitors into the hollows of a violin, where a video clip of Sarn explains what’s contained within this three-dimensional space. As he tells visitors about the paintings hanging on the walls, and the pieces of music he wrote specifically for them, we hear the swelling of violin music in the background. This augmented reality-inspired web experience created with Vev is a delight of sights and sound, combining 3D and audio to transport users into another world.
Horizontal scrolling lets you present content in a more measured manner, making sure that people take in what’s before them before moving on. Where many of us rush through vertical designs, horizontal scrolling forces us to take a more patient approach.
We’ve already examined the immersive website Mirrows, which is entirely reliant on horizontal scrolling, but horizontal scroll can also be used in smaller sections on immersive websites. This immersive website for Chaletbau Matti utilizes a horizontally scrolled break-out section which draws attention to the timeline, captivating users with the history of the brand’s story and visually presenting it chronologically.
Best Practices For Immersive Web Design
When building an immersive website, it is important to keep your visitor's needs in mind. Here is our quick checklist for building an immersive website:
- Provide users with a simple means of moving through the website, and inspire them to take their time in experiencing everything at hand.
- Interactive and immersive features shouldn’t be distracting or overwhelming, so don’t put too many things into motion on a single screen.
- The UI should be straightforward, and every action obvious in its functionality. Assist visitors in taking action and realizing the goals you have set out for them through labels and universal symbols.
- Have a focus: build an immersive experience around communicating a single story or with a specific goal and user-action in mind.
- Avoid a menu with multiple pages. Ideally, an immersive website should be contained within a single page that naturally guides users through the website. It’s okay if it’s a longer scroll since there will be interactive elements to keep people moving through it.
More Immersive Website Examples to Inspire You
Now that we’ve covered the most common design techniques used in Vev to create immersive web experiences, as well as some best practices, let’s take a look at more immersive website design examples to inspire your own project.
Joshua’s World offers a captivating journey aboard a bicycle, pedaling along a circular island pathway dotted with landmarks representing his education and work as an interaction designer. There’s a brilliant sense of color and space, as well as quirky characters like a robot and a deer occupying this space. It offers a bouncy and fun user experience that also communicates Joshua’s expertise as an interaction designer.
Pasticceria Adami, an Italian pastry shop, takes a horizontal approach with each slide featuring something sweet and delicious from their menu. Much like standing in front of a glass display case of sweets, horizontal scrolling inspires us to stay awhile, and to browse through what’s being offered at our own pace.
Low Carbon Park
Low Carbon Park, created by energy company EDF, is a digital showroom featuring sustainability-minded technologies. It offers an open and inviting space, full of polished 3D visuals and micro-interactions beckoning you to explore it.
Along with impressive graphics, there’s also audio. A soundtrack of gentle electronic bleeps and bloops hums in the background. Moving the cursor triggers the sounds of white noise and clicks. Visuals and sound come together in this example to create a multi-sensory user experience.
Academy of Yin Mindfulness
Academy of Yin Mindfulness, a German yoga and sound therapy studio, offers a zen user experience, echoing their brand values and immersing users in it. Visitors to this immersive website are taken on a side scrolling journey filled with tranquil images and videos of nature. With each scroll, more text and visuals appear in a way that feels gentle due to the subtle animations and transitions. There’s nothing jarring or out of place, with this an entire design feeling like a moment of meditation.
Build Your Own Immersive Website
We’re excited about the potential for creativity in web design, and developed our platform to help you build exactly what’s in your imagination. Vev comes loaded with pre-coded design elements, eye-catching animations, Lottie animation integration, and video embeds, so you have everything you need to build an immersive website. You can publish anywhere on the web when you’re finished.