Matthew King of Alkries LLC® said:
Some of the trends that are already here and will continue to evolve into innovative trends as we push forward are as follows:
- Intuitive Customer Interactions
- Intelligent Chatbots
- Video Content Done In Conversational Style
- User-Friendly, User-Intent, and Mobile Focus
- Doing More By Providing Less Fluff and More Problem Solving
We’ve seen tons of changes already, but as Google and other search engines continue to make their algorithms smarter a web designer and marketer need to strategize elements, colors, call to action placement on a higher level. Here is what I mean.
Intuitive Customer Interactions
Technology is becoming more and more intuitive, innovative, intelligent, and easier to use, isn’t it? Of course, it is, but in web trends. It’s making our jobs more comfortable and faster. There are already a lot of ways to engage the customer while they are browsing your store such as allowing them to interact with items in your store from zooming in, rotating, favoriting, liking, and adding to their wishlist. Even messages and simple notifications are customer interactions.
One of the newer trends is a different type of push notification that pings the user via their browser, cascading to their desktops, phones, and tablets. This can be used for new blogs, new products, new promotions and so forth. The best part about it is the user doesn’t even have to give their name and email information. It’s a simple click. I see this channel being used more in the future.
Another that is newer is a type of social proof, where a user purchases products then other users that are browsing get pinged that someone bought a product — showing others trust to buy your products and services giving you credibility.
Chatbots are already being used of course, but what I’m talking about is the evolving nature of them as technology advances and the techniques that are being used in them. Before, everyone wanted to “pretend” the chatbot was a person handling income messages. Now, it’s becoming more acceptable to let your customer know it’s a bot they are talking to. Such as “Alkries LLC Bot” on my website.
Chatbots are becoming more intelligent at interacting and collecting leads for your website 24/7. I foresee more sites using chatbots to interact with customers that are viewing specific pages, products, and services or to even follow up with a customer based on how many times they have visited. When a customer needs to speak to a live person, the chatbot will schedule a meeting for them and send them a calendar invite. I believe we will see more sites using live chatbots and more creativity being used to interact with browsing users and customers.
Video Content In Conversational Styles
We all have heard by now that video content is going to be the new “thing” and bring 80% of the traffic to your website. But, I want to expand upon that and how it can connect you to your customer when done right. Putting up new or revised content in video format is great but not if the focus isn’t about your customer. Customers connect with video because they feel connected with a human when watching and listening to them. Videos don’t need to be highly professional with a sales script that removes all personality. The trend that I believe will become more important is the style and how a video shows the company and the person doing the video is just another human being.
A video can still be done professionally with a casual human tone to it. A way of talking directly to your customer about their pains, problems, and fears while showing empathy/sympathy.
User-Friendly, User-Intent, and Mobile Focus
We again are already aware of the focus on being responsive to mobile, but the trend that continues to become more eccentric is precisely how a website is user-friendly, how the structure of a site is both for search engines and for a user to consume the content quickly and with the fewest clicks possible. At the same time, the shift to pay attention to the intent of the user consuming your content is becoming more critical to include in designs and website functionality. This paragraph plays into the next piece I want to talk about.
Doing More By Providing Less Fluff and More Problem Solving
We’ve all seen long-form content that doesn’t answer a customer’s main questions and concerns. We’ve also all seen that fancy website that has a ton of bells and whistles with cool animations that don’t help solve a user’s problem. I believe we will continue to see a shift in minimalist styles with fewer bells and whistles, more straight forward, easy to navigate, and to the point in web design and development.
Michael Collins of Mikreative said:
Over the next couple of years privacy, accessibility, and digital assistants are going to come to the forefront.
GDPR is headed to the US. I’m sure it’ll end up with a different name but it’ll be based on what’s existing in the EU. Many tech companies have already configured their systems to comply and don’t want to have to reconfigure. US lawmakers might tweak certain parts of it based on feedback from the EU experience, the tech companies and of course the public voice.
Social, financial and legal matters are driving the increasing awareness of a more accessible web. Socially it’s beneficial for everyone to be able to access information on the internet. Businesses that make the investment will gain a wider audience than their competitors. I don’t see any tangible regulation in the near future however it will eventually be in play. There is one more benefit to accessibility. Having semantically coded sites is better for SEO and the coming explosion of digital assistants.
Alexa, Google Home, Siri, and AI chatbots are coming into their own. I’ve tried Alexa and unplugged her. Siri finally understands my words but doesn’t give me what I’m looking for. Google Home, so far, has understood what I wanted. It’s politely trained me to be more semantic in what I’m asking and says “you’re welcome” or “it’s my pleasure” when I say “thank you.” Google has an impressive chat bot tool called Dialogflow. Even putting in a few keywords it can quickly build up a context around those keywords and understand variants of what’s being asked. Very impressive.
In order for the assistant or chatbot to give relevant information, we have to make sure we are providing context to the information that we put out there. This puts accessibility at the forefront of your digital foundation to easily tie your bot and open up to digital assistants.
Jimmy Rodriguez of 3dcart said:
We’re going to see a trend of simplicity and function taking over from showy web design. For the past several years, there’s been much focus on pushing the boundaries of websites and what they’re capable of in regards to special effects, unique design conventions, and other elements that prioritize looks over purpose.
While this type of web design can certainly make an impression, users are starting to realize that most of it doesn’t add value to their browsing experience. In fact, frequent internet users are starting to lose patience with some of the fancier visuals that once were so strong for defining a brand.
There are two major reasons for this shift. The first is mobile-readiness; websites need to be fast and simple to use on every device, which doesn’t leave much room for special effects, and designers have needed to pare down to the essentials.
The second reason is that our attitude toward the internet has changed. The internet of today is a utility that people use to make their lives easier, not a magical frontier, and people visit websites to complete a task, not to be “wowed” by the website’s looks and structure. Sites that are too unconventional will annoy and turn visitors away. Consumer behavior shows that users prefer straightforward websites that serve their needs and often don’t even notice creative design unless it detracts from their experience.
This doesn’t mean we’re in for a future of ugly websites — far from it. Great designers will still innovate, but with a focus on usability first and foremost.
Phillip Lockwood of Distill Agency said:
1. As “website builder” CMS platforms continue to improve in capabilities, ease-of-use, and professional designs, we’ll see fewer and fewer clients who are willing to pony up for websites in the $3-10k range—It will be too easy to create such sites without paying a professional or an agency.
2. Likewise, I think you’ll start to see a significant drop in WordPress growth. The platform has become ubiquitous because it was free, flexible, and easy to set up. But it achieved growth in spite of the fact that it has a very poor UI, is prone to hacking, and still required more setup expertise than SaaS options. Now that inexpensive platforms like SquareSpace support quick setup of e-commerce, social integrations, multimedia content widgets, and SEO, the lower end of the market will recognize that WordPress is less stable, convenient, and economical than before.
3. Less will continue to become more. We already have fewer informational pages on websites today (remember when every 1-person company had a website with sections for Press, History, Leadership, Board of Directors, FAQ, White Papers, Case Studies, and Process?), but people are recognizing that content shouldn’t be about you—it should be about your prospects and clients. That means a streamlining of the brand story, with fewer words, fewer pages, and a very focused call-to-action. Give enough to get people interested, then convert them into a lead and/or get a real conversation going. Even blogs will become a lower priority because of the falling SEO value and difficulty in cutting through the noise of over a billion blogs worldwide. Virtually all editorial content will be posted on 3rd-party platforms.
4. Complex landing/squeeze pages are on their way out. No landing page has ever been able to compete with a televised infomercial and we’re now seeing that we can mimic the effectiveness of the latter online, simplifying the concept of a squeeze page, by creating compelling video to convert viewers. With tools like Facebook/Instagram Lead Ads, SnapApp, OptinMonster, and Hubspot that provide great lead-generation tools that eliminate the time-consuming setup of landing pages, we’re already seeing simplified funnel assets.
David Hornreich of Interrobang Digital said:
You may already know that Google shows you custom results based on your location and your browsing history.
And of course, Facebook will show you ads based on sites you’ve visited.
And I’ll even bet you’re experienced with a web page asking for your location so they can show you the nearest place to get pizza or ice cream or running shoes (gotta work off that pizza and ice cream).
But you’ve probably experienced personalized web browsing without even realizing it, and it’s only going to get more common.
We’ve used tools like GeoTargetly with our clients to serve up targeted content, using a user’s IP address to infer their location.
And services like RightMessage are taking personalization a step further by customizing page content based on known data about a user.
Here’s an example: Let’s say somebody’s opted into your newsletter. What good is it to continue showing them the standard “subscribe to our newsletter!” message when they’ve already done so?
Wouldn’t it make more sense to use the information you know about them to provide a more appropriate call-to-action?
If they’re a newsletter subscriber they’re probably further down the sales funnel than an average user — so why not ask them to buy a low-cost product or service or sign up for an initial consultation call instead?
Well, with personalization tools, you can.
This isn’t quite mainstream yet, but it’s going to be.
Let’s wrap with one more example:
Let’s say you’re looking for someone to provide small business SEO services. You land on SEOak.com and read the headline:
“Small Business SEO Services”
Well hey, that seems like a good match! But could it be better?
Well, let’s imagine that you happen to be a fan of marketer and notorious cool-glasses-wearer Seth Godin.
Using personalization, Jeff at SEOak could create a rule that says:
If a visitor has also visited https://www.sethgodin.com/, then the following headline should be displayed instead of the default one:
“Small Business SEO Services — Trusted by Seth Godin”
Now, Jeff ought to get Seth’s permission before he prints that.
But the point remains: a user’s preferences, affiliations, and history can be leveraged to fast-track the trust building process.
Even if the means of doing so is a little creepy.
Brian Essig of Creating Digital said:
I think a trend we will see in the next few years is going to be the use of video much more. Service based businesses will use it to create a one on one feel while providing a one to many outreach. Product based businesses like e-commerce shops will use it as a means to show the product in a different way than competitors and offer a 360 view.