The overarching theme this year is about organisations ‘owning’ their space on the web. Creating their corner of the digital world, one which reflects who are they are, what they stand for and the opportunity for users to interact with them. In a crowded space, this is a tough task but it’s the key to attracting and retaining customers in this important channel. Being different and embracing uniqueness is at the very heart of success.
The key factors in creating ‘unique’ websites are:
Design: through good design, a website brings alive the organisation’s brand, delivers key messages in an interesting way and invites the user to action. This is about carefully considered messaging through interesting and structured wayfinding.
Good design creates emotion, a connection and an experience which will leave a lasting impression on the user and will encourage them to want to come back.
Website design can utilise tailormade illustration, photography and animation - (animation engines are really coming into their own making it so much more affordable in programming time).
However, the most important point to make about design is that a website is one channel in a brands’ multi- channel approach to reaching out to their market. Design should fit strategically through all channels tying everything together cohesively.
Staying fresh: The need to feel fresh means the need for faster development cycles. Upgrades should be in the upfront plan for the website and should include micro-upgrades at more regular intervals than the standard average 4-5 years. Micro-upgrades could be in the form of a refreshed front page or some new and interesting animation on the front page or within the site.
Strategic thinking: A website needs to be seen as a process rather than just a technical platform to load with content. The process is about the 'decision journey' a user is on when he/she arrives at the website; and it's about determining the role the website plays in this. Navigation, content, messaging, animation, data, search, presentation all stem from this. And because needs change over time so does this journey - so a website which is flexible enough to adapt and change to that is important.
Mobile phones remain at the centre of our worlds. They enable us to communicate, be entertained, gather information, shop and undertake a huge number of actions which relate to both our personal and professional lives. Website usage via mobile phones continues to grow, so website owners need to ensure that the mobile version of their site delivers nothing short of brilliance. Navigation and scrolling needs to be as intuitive on mobile as desktop. All this is part of modern website platforms but it needs proper and thoughtful implementation, continued investment and ongoing evolution.
Attention to detail
A website experience should delight, charm and (where relevant) entertain the user. It should feel slick and easy and second nature to navigate through your digital world. Interaction with everything from search boxes to forms and everything in between should be considered. Attention to detail is key.
Platform (technology) trends
The requirements for things like mobile responsiveness, fast load times, optimisation of code running in the browser are all now being built onto platforms like Drupal 8/9. This will continue and we expect a really serious focus on upgrades, security and the like.
Integration of AI/Search and other 'personalisation' may be beyond most organisational requirements but more broadly speaking we will see more AI personalising user’s experience based on information about them (if they have shared it) or prior visitors. At a minimum, outstanding search will become more normal. In some cases, there will be opportunities for interaction through things like chatbots. However, our feeling is that users will tire of these unless there is a real reason for them to exist (such as cleverly presenting research data).
A focus on regulated requirements such as accessibility and GDPR.
All in all, 2020 is set to be another exciting year in tech!
If you’d like to chat about any of the trends mentioned in our article, or would like to discuss a tech project that’s on your mind, get in touch.