Did you know that 80 per cent of consumers research a product or service online before completing a transaction? Your website, whether commercial or informative, is essentially the front door to your business and the first opportunity for consumers to experience your brand.
While the internet can bring thousands of ‘digital feet’ to your front door, you only have approximately two seconds to convince consumers that your website meets their needs. That’s why it’s so important that your website immediately builds trust and credibility and communicates a clear and concise message.
So how do you know if your website is making a lasting impression? And when is it time for a facelift?
Out with the old, in with the new
If you notice any of the below, it may be a sign your website needs a new direction:
1. Customer dissatisfaction – I’m not talking about the odd shipping return or product complaint; I’m talking about fundamental dissatisfaction with your overall brand experience. Never forget, without customers you have no business.
2. Lack of conversion/interaction – there are a number of analytics tools you can use to monitor and track customer journeys. If this data shows a significant drop off in your user flow, investigate why and make the necessary changes to reverse any downward trends.
3. Change in geographic location of customers – if you see a trend towards international customers, but your website only caters to local customers, you may need to adjust your offering and capitalise on it. This could be as simple as adding a conversion functionality or international shipping rules.
4. New technology – technology is ever evolving and if your site is more than three years old, it’s highly likely that it isn’t responsive on mobile, isn’t clean and easy to navigate and doesn’t load quickly. Each of these things are crucial to not only attracting customers to your website, but keeping them there.
The writing is on the wall - it’s time for a new website. So what should you include to ensure it capitalises on the latest technologies?
Web development for tomorrow
1. The ‘omni-channel’ approach
More and more businesses are taking an omni-channel approach to marketing, providing customers with an integrated shopping experience. This means regardless of whether they are shopping online from a desktop or mobile device, by telephone, or in a bricks-and-mortar store, the experience is seamless. For example, many businesses use a mobile app that matches the responsive design of their website, which thematically reflects the look and feel inside their store.
Adding an e-commerce function to the website of an established business can create another income stream and reach an untapped demographic base, which is highly valuable for any business as it adds to the bottom line.
3. To contact form, or not to contact form?
Nothing is more frustrating to consumers when they can’t find the contact information for a business. To quickly build and maintain trust in a small digital window, brands have to connect with customers. If customers know they can contact a business via phone or email quickly and easily, this gives the brand credence and positions them as accessible and accountable. As a business, you need to bring the same personal in-store experience to your online customers and this is the simplest way to do so.
4. Learned behaviour
Something that is becoming more and more common in web development is learned behaviour. Netflix is famous for showing us options based on our previous selections and we are seeing this same model rolled out across fashion, food and service websites. It’s all about finding out what consumers like and showing them options tailored to their established preferences.
The Chatbot is also becoming a fundamental part of website design. Conversational interfaces are the current ‘buzz word’, but make no mistake – chatbots are here to stay. Vocal commands and interaction will become standard practice in future years.
There are some truly exciting developments in the web and e-commerce space aimed at improving the experience for both businesses and consumers.
1. Integration of AR and VR into e-commerce
The incorporation of Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) in the online retail space is popping up more and more – from its use in China by Alibaba to transporting customers to international retailers, to a collaboration between Myer and Ebay. Instead of flicking through pictures of models in clothes, AR and VR allows customers to visualise themselves wearing the brand’s clothes, removing concerns about whether hemlines, length, colour or style will suit. The Gap utilises this concept with their app DressingRoom, while the data-driven platform TrueFit has been used for years by Nordstrom, Adidas and Guess to minimise online shopping returns.
2. Artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things
The Internet of Things will have a huge impact on how we work and live. Check out Mark Zuckerberg’s “bespoke smart house” and how it interacts with his artificially intelligent assistant Jarvis. People have been talking about the Internet of Things for a while and companies need to take note if their products, websites and apps are to capitalise on this trend in the future.
3. Motion user interface
There are over one billion websites in the world. This means web developers need to work extra hard to capture the attention of consumers. Motion graphics and animation can make a website stand out from the crowd and add another level of professionalism, playfulness and personalisation. This is not to say that user design needs to become more complex – in fact, the most exciting user experience designs are those that showcase and champion ‘subtlety’.
It’s important to keep in mind that every new feature introduced to a website or integrated into a device - including our household appliances and electronics – should make our lives easier, simpler and ultimately, better. If consumers can experience all the same positive emotions online as they do when physically in-store, or when using connected devices and online applications, websites will truly have reached another level of integration and useability.