When our work is described as being “engaging,” most of us feel a certain amount of pride and satisfaction — as well we should. It’s a nice compliment. It means we’ve done our job well. We’ve accomplished something meaningful — and more challenging than it may seem. To say that interactive experiences should be engaging seems obvious, but to actually design, build and deliver an experience that truly delivers on that ideal/that quality is much harder than we often acknowledge. This is exactly why the Interaction Awards honor work that is engaging, work that captures attention, creates delight, encourages re-engagement, brings joy and otherwise delivers meaning.
Engaging work often blends the digital and the physical by incorporating interactive objects with web and app experiences that allow users to move seamlessly from the virtual to the visceral. Last year, we honored three such entries:
- The Hackaball by Made by Many which teaches children to program a connected object and then create games they can play with one another using the Hackaball proving that coding can be fun, social and creative.
- The Water Watcher by Smart Design monitors water consumption and provides real time feedback through an ambient counter top display that is then enhanced with a mobile app that provides meaning for the consumption of the data.
- Cooper worked with the National Pro Grid to launch a new sports league that uses technology on the field of play as well as online to introduce the sport, the teams, the players and to show, in real time how players are performing. This engages viewers, judges and players alike. The overall effect has created tremendous excitement around the sport.
Engaging doesn’t have to involve physical interactions, however. Career Quest by QUEST Alliance is a game that helps young workers in India understand how business works, what skills they need to advance in their careers and how to become better employees. The game is fun and educational – and the students who play Career Quest are able to visualize their futures in new ways.
Our 2015 Best in Category, Learning to See, Seeing to Learn by the University of Pittsburgh [Center for Learning in Out-of-School Environments] and Carnegie Mellon University [Create Lab] teaches citizen scientists — from school children to university students and researchers — to identify, catalog and monitor stream invertebrates in order to track water quality and protect the health of our natural watersheds. Using a zoomable interface that allows microscope level exploration and error checking on assumptions, users are encouraged to explore their natural world and contribute to a growing body of scientific knowledge. Bet you want to check it out now, don’t you?
These are just a few of the great examples of engaging experiences that members of our community are creating around the world. Like the work we see in every category, we know they represent only a fraction of the great work being done in this area by our IxDA community. We can’t wait to see how you have been engaging people, delivering delight and creating meaning.
Celebrate your great work and your success by entering the the 2016 Interaction Awards. Hurry. The deadline is September 13, 2015.