Interactive websites are websites that allow the reader to engage with the online content in a variety of ways, including games, puzzles, and answering questions. Web designers use a variety of different methods when creating interactive websites — the methods used vary according to the needs of the site. In some cases, user interaction only involves answering questions or inputting user data, such as a username and password. In such cases, creating interactive websites really only means inserting simple forms on the site. In other cases, interaction involves complex games or interactive online art that requires a much more detailed and complex web design.
Creating interactive websites is a practical necessity for many websites that exist to do more than simply present the user with information. Any sites that require or store user information, for instance, must be interactive, as the user is required to input his or her information. Creating interactive websites with the forms necessary to complete such tasks can sometimes be completed with minimal web design skills. Many websites and commercially available word processing programs can create forms that can be used online. In many cases, however, it is necessary to store user data securely, and in such cases, careful encryption is a necessary behind-the-scenes element of the interactive website.
In many cases, the degree of interaction is much more complex than simply entering text into forms. Many forms of online artwork, for instance, are interactive and can only be fully appreciated if the user engages with the content. Creating interactive websites of this form is a much more complex act that tends to require a high level of visual thinking, artistic vision, and programming skill. The site must be designed so that that the interactivity adds to the user experience and does not distract from it. Various subtle cues must be inserted to show the user how he is supposed to interact with the site in order to get the best experience from it.
There are many types of sites, such as forums and other social websites, that are intended to facilitate interaction between people. In the strictest technical sense, these can be considered interactive websites. The term "interactive websites," however, is usually intended to refer to websites in which the user and the site interact without a third party. Creating interactive websites means crafting an online user experience that involves only the user and the website, without the intervention of a third party.