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Pushing the Envelope: Interactive Web Design

written by: sherisaid•edited by: Michele McDonough•updated: 6/6/2010

Interactive web design is about creating the next generation of information collection or the next viral web obsession. It has to be fresh, creative, relevant, and above all, innovative.

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    The Holy Grail of Web Design

    Web design takes on new dimensions of creative challenge when it must be interactive. This is the perpetual cutting edge of the web work, where emerging technologies demand continual education. There is no defined educational requirement for a career in interactive design, but a solid foundation in web design with additional study in interactive technology is the key to a successful career.

    Interactive web design education should encompass a wide variety of subjects including:

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    Game Design

    Gaming is the ultimate theater for interactive design, requiring hundreds of user, character and environment interactions. Game designers must have an extensive education covering many aspects of computer-related study. A basic knowledge of game design is excellent preparation for any interactive requirement.

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    Interactive Media

    The user experience is increasingly feature-rich to draw maximum traffic and interactive media application programming is what keeps them coming back. This can include everything from choosing new movie channels for cable television lineup to on virtual jeans. Most professional sites contain some form of interactive media used to gather information or enlighten the customer. The most successful applications are so cool they become viral. A great example of a viral interactive media application was the 2008 Christmas season sensation, 'Elf Yourself", featuring a DIY process to upload your own head(s) into a prefab video, resulting in something like this. This clever Christmas card was irresistible and a brilliant marketing strategy…driving thousands of people to OfficeMax.com during the crucial sales period just before Christmas.

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    Database Programming

    The objective of many interactive multimedia programs is collection of data from user input. This data is stored and drawn on to produce results for the user or for the company. Billing information, for example, can be passed from a shopping cart to merchant services to complete a financial transaction. Database programming is vital to a career in interactive web design.

    When working on a team, a different team member may perform each component of interactive design. On a large project, such as a video game, there may be teams so specialized that they are responsible only for the background images. A small team, or a single web designer, may find himself responsible for every aspect, a daunting challenge indeed. This career is the most creative to be found in web work, and for the talented, one of the most lucrative.