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What is an Interactive Website?

G. Wiesen
G. Wiesen

An interactive website is an Internet page that uses various software to create an interactive experience that allows the person viewing the webpage to be actively engaged with the site. This can be done for a number of reasons and by using various methods and software to accomplish this interactivity. An interactive website can be just about any website that allows users to go beyond simply reading text and viewing images. Instead, this type of website can also allow the viewer to alter the way in which the website displays or allow the user to play games and achieve various tasks.

In general, an interactive website will use the standard graphical user interface (GUI) present on all websites to create interactivity with the viewer. For example, a website that displays weather forecasts for an area may simply allow a user to type in his or her location and then show weather details for that region. While this technically is interactive, since it allowed the user to input his or her information, this would be a fairly unimpressive level of interactivity.

An interactive website could give a user the specific weather forecast in their area, or their area's weather patterns over the past few years.
An interactive website could give a user the specific weather forecast in their area, or their area's weather patterns over the past few years.

A more elaborate interactive website might allow the user to input his or her location and also indicate a particular year or day and display weather for that time period. This could allow the user to better understand recorded weather patterns and trends throughout history. An interactive website could also display an image of the Earth, perhaps represented as a three-dimensional rendering, and allow the user to interact with that globe. The website might display weather for different countries and allow the user to zoom into specific regions, or to move and manipulate the globe to see various parts of the world and quickly view the weather in those areas.

Interactive websites can be used as educational tools.
Interactive websites can be used as educational tools.

Different types of software are often used to create an interactive website, though programs usually include various features to display animations or allow the user to manipulate images that appear on the page. This can be used for educational purposes, entertainment, and for a number of other reasons as well, including attracting more users to a particular website. There are scientific websites that allow a user to explore the various structures of different plants and animals, at cellular and microscopic levels, as well as sites that can be used to better understand the size of the universe. An interactive website can also be used to allow users of a website to play games or interact with friends online.

Discussion Comments


@aLFredo - I have friends that have websites for their companies. They waited until they had enough money in the bank to hire someone to build their website, and that helped them not to get too bogged down with the website. And since the website they have been able to spend less on marketing as people are finding them on the internet.

I tried once buy a domain name for the $9.99 per year deal often advertised on the internet at tv, and then set up a website for that domain name. I don't know what I was thinking! I was not able to build the website as I wanted to, there was just too much information and I had not near enough time to check it. But at least I was only out 9.99!

I wonder if anyone else has had luck with building an interactive website on their own without a degree in computer technology!


Has anyone used a website builder to make an interactive website?

Like others have mentioned, I have been able to do a blog quite easily, but not a stand alone website. The stand alone website was really quite sad looking and not interactive at all, and I never finished it.


@runner101 - I have not heard of another site that uses their money made from their interactive site for such things as food for other countries (though I think that is a very neat idea). But I have seen the click for charities interaction on many cancer websites and other disorders websites.

I just click on the area they ask me to click and their sponsors donate money to the charity. What usually happens is, when you click you are lead to their advertiser's site or shown an ad for their sponsor.


I agree with @turquoise, free blogs are not interactive but some of the services that run them allow for people to comment like on this site.

I have been impressed with interactive sites that use games or clicking on certain boxes for charity.

There is a site that you are quizzed on synonyms of words and with each correct answer or maybe it is after 10 correct answers, the site donates rice to countries that have some impoverished areas. I've played it, but I learned about it from a news program that said schools were using it with their students. They found it was a good motivational site for their student.

Has anyone found any other interactive sites like this that use their interaction for charitable giving? I would love to pass along to my friends who are teachers; they are always looking for new ways to motivate their students!


Online interaction is great – when it works! I now have a great new computer and a WIFI connection that is pretty speedy. I invested in these things when I started to build a good rapport working from home.

However, until I got to a certain point I just couldn’t justify paying for the good stuff. And it was when I had the dial up and the old machine that I despised any and all interactive sites.

When you actually were able to get to a site (and this could literally take minutes) if it had interaction you could almost bet money that the thing would freeze and just stare at you.

Not only was it annoying it, it also cost me lots of time trying to get my work completed.


I’m pretty sure this will qualify as interactive, but not 100% sure. Maybe some of the tech savvy folks around here can enlighten me.

There is this fairly new and fabulous game on Facebook that allows you to do search and finds to earn points. Once you’ve earned some points you begin to build your own garden. The cool thing, though, is that your garden is collected across all of time. You are a time traveler in this game.

I love the challenge of the actual searches and blitzes, but I absolutely could spend hours arranging and rearranging my gorgeous garden. I really have to limit my time with this game, because it can literally go on and on forever!

I am totally addicted to this in a way that I have never been into any other online option before – I think it must be the interaction!


@Sunshine31 - I agree that the chat option is fabulous. There are so many times that I will have a question about something, and I don’t feel like picking up the phone. I think it is great.

I also think that the best websites have a function in which you hover over a category and it tells you all about it without having to click on the category. I like this because I don’t want to have to take the time to click on something and have it take me somewhere else. Travel websites do this a lot. I think that this feature is one of the best features in any interactive website design and it is a must.


I have to say that I love when I see cool interactive websites. I really love when I go to a web site and there is a chat person immediately available to help me with my purchase.

I also love the educational websites that my kids go to that offer games and quizzes that allow them to learn material that supports their homework.

Some of these are free websites, but others have a yearly subscription cost. Brain Pop is really great because it offers vivid colors and robot sounds that support the main characters. Most schools usually have a subscription so you can ask your child's teacher what the licensing agreements are because they might even allow you to use the website for free.

There are also some interactive art websites that even allow you to print your child’s online artwork. They can also change the colors of the landscape and see how the various options look like. It is really a lot of fun.


One of my favorite things to do online is to visit the virtual stores that actual let you try on clothes on an interactive model that you can change to mimic your own body shape. These stores are fantastic examples of interactive websites and carry so many great brands that it is nice to see what clothes look like on someone who isn't a perfect model.

For myself being able to see how clothes look on a 3D figure is really important, especially with online shopping where you can't really guess how things will fit. If you are really into using 3D models you can also make the face just look like your own.


I think one of the best things you can do for yourself if you have a small business is invest in creating a really interactive website. While text and images do get the point across, making the person viewing your site more engaged will make them a lot more likely to buy something for you.

My one friend has an online site that promotes her local hair shop and she uses a neat virtual model add so that people can see what a hairstyle will look like on their face. It is also great for sampling colors et cetera.

For many customers being able to really see what they are going to look like after their hair is finished is a lot of incentive to use her shop.


@miriam98 - I recommend that you check the Google website and its search engine if you want an interesting take on interactivity.

You’ll notice that when you type in your search terms, the website automatically does an incremental search on possible lookup terms, and displays them as you type.

It’s using JavaScript, I think, to do this, and it’s a powerful feature, which makes searching for common phrases a lot easier in my opinion.


@everetra - Yeah, I worked for a local newspaper once doing website development. One of the requests they had was to make the website template interactive.

Well, I had to rethink my approach. I had initially built their website using the website builder, but that was only usable when you first built the website. The end user could not change the look and feel once the website was built.

I settled on using ASP.NET to allow the end user to customize their news page to their liking. They were able to change the color, skins and fonts – completely personalize the site so that it looked like what they wanted.

I realize that to some people this level of interactivity is more bells and whistles than anything else, but a lot of users do want to be able customize their often visited web pages and I was able to provide that experience.


I do software development and sometimes I’m asked to build websites for my clients. In almost all cases, the client wants some interactivity on the website.

The best interactive websites use a combination of static HTML and some scripts to achieve that effect. I usually write my scripts in PHP or JavaScript and this can bring a level of interactivity to the site that makes it almost look and feel like a desktop application.

For example, one of the most common requests is to make the website searchable, especially for a client that has an online store. I add a search box component to the website and script it so that when the user enters a search term, the website will retrieve the results from a database and return the results on another page.

I can even format the search results using HTML to make it look like the website’s design template.


I have seen some of the new software on websites, I just didn't know that it was called interactive.

The other day I was shopping on an online store and needed to ask something. When I was looking for their email address or phone number, I found a button for "live help".

I clicked on it and a little box popped up. I asked my question and was given an answer right then and there! That is also considered to be an interactive tool right?

It was great, before we used to send an email and maybe received the answer in two or three days. But I could finish my shopping that day because they had this interactive software. It's wonderful, I hope all online retailers start using one of these.


I love how some official film websites are completely interactive. Many have games, music and videos from the movie and you have to go through various interactive steps. I think it makes it fun and much more exciting.

Before I go to see a film or purchase a DVD, I always check out the website first. If I see something unique and different and particularly if I see a lot of interactive things on the site, that really leaves a good impression on me. It makes me feel that the producers really care about their viewers and they want us to spend time thinking about the movie outside of the theater.

I don't know why but if I see a film site that allows for no interaction whatsoever, I lose some interest in that film. I feel that if their website is boring, how exciting can the film be?

Do you pay as much attention to interactive film websites as I do?


I have a personal blog where I write about beauty and health. Since it is a free site, interactive options are very limited. There are some free gadgets that could be added to the blog but they are very simple and not too impressive.

For now, I just have a poll on the site where I've asked a question and my readers can submit an answer and see what other people have answered. I know it's not very amusing. But I also realize that you can't have more readers if you don't allow them to take part and contribute to the blog in some way. That's what I'm trying to do. I just wish that there were more free interactive gadgets that we could easily place on our site.

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    • An interactive website could give a user the specific weather forecast in their area, or their area's weather patterns over the past few years.
      By: Tomasz Zajda
      An interactive website could give a user the specific weather forecast in their area, or their area's weather patterns over the past few years.
    • Interactive websites can be used as educational tools.
      By: yanlev
      Interactive websites can be used as educational tools.
    • An interactive website can also be used to allow users of a website to play games or interact with friends online.
      By: jamdesign
      An interactive website can also be used to allow users of a website to play games or interact with friends online.