Updating your website involves more than just rearranging words and pictures on the homepage. Changing your website involves implementing new technology behind the scenes, eliminating dot-com domains and using research to optimize pages to capture your audience’s attention. Just think about your website two, five, 10 years ago. Chances are, it looked quite a bit different from the version you have today.
All businesses need to keep up with modern internet technology if they want to maintain their competitive edge. So it’s important to keep an eye on emerging website trends and anticipate how evolving tech will impact the creative direction of your website.
Attention spans are shortening and the amount of content living online is growing exponentially, so expect to see data influence the future of your website’s looks and operating systems. Not sure what trends you should be paying attention to? Here are some examples.
1. Virtual stores in virtual reality
When we think of ecommerce, we typically think of logging on to a website store or using a mobile app to do all of our shopping. But virtual reality could be changing how we shop in the very near future. Imagine putting on a VR headset and instead of browsing a flat website catalogue you could be walking through a virtual store or viewing things around a showroom.
EBay actually launched what it calls the world’s first virtual reality department store, partnering with an Australian-based retailer to bring shoppers an opportunity to shop from home. Though implementing virtual reality on an ecommerce site might take time and money, it could be the way of the future -- and a new way for businesses to gather information on how their customers shop.
2. Clever website names
Finding the best domain name for your new business can be a major challenge. Luckily, website owners are no longer limited to just one or two options to the right of the dot. Businesses, brands and individuals have hundreds of new choices when selecting their digital identities, from "dot-clothing" (.clothing) to "dot-boutique" (.boutique) to "dot-style" (.style) and "dot-shopping" (.shopping).
“Businesses in all industries can pick a domain name that tells the world exactly who they are and what they do,” say Paul Stahura, co-founder and CEO of Donuts Inc., an internet domain registry that operates nearly 200 of these extensions, dubbed “not-com” domain names. “New businesses can stand out from the crowd in a way that was never possible before, and tell the world what business they're in.
For example: No one would know what Driftaway.com is, but www.Driftaway.coffee tells the world that it is a coffee business. Amici.com does not tell the world anything about your business, but www.Amici.catering tells prospective clients that it is a catering business.”
While many small to mid-size businesses are quickly jumping aboard the “not-com” domain train, big enterprises have been trading "dot-com" names for more memorable ones. For example, Lady Gaga’s non-profit organization uses BornThisWay.foundation and Alphabet, Google’s parent company, announced their homepage live at ABC.xyz. Even retail giant Amazon is using domain name endings such as www.Amazon.clothing and www.Amazon.shoes to redirect visitors to the appropriate shopping page on its website, while also enhancing SEO.
3. Increased personalization
Technology is becoming smarter every day and it’s time for businesses, particularly in ecommerce, to include some type of anticipatory artificial intelligence into their websites. A website is more than just a page with pretty pictures and words. Designed properly, a website can relay information about your site visitors and use data on previous customers to predict their needs in the future. More data translates to increased personalization on various websites, which could lead to a more immersive user experience.
Take Amazon for example. The Seattle retailer is working on technology it says is “anticipatory shipping,” a method that will deliver packages before customers even click buy. Not only will anticipatory technology cut down on delivery time and inefficient service, it could also improve customer satisfaction and increase loyalty to a particular brand. Using a customer’s previous order information and shopping habits, data pulled from the Amazon website, Amazon can predict demand based on a variety of factors and begin to show customers more personalized shopping ads based on their past behaviors.
4. Augmented reality
With newer, faster and more powerful smartphones hitting the market, websites are increasingly becoming more mobile. Responsive design is no longer an optional feature for websites -- it’s the difference between keeping your customers and repelling them to your competitors. And now websites need to take their capabilities one step further and begin incorporating augmented reality into their web designs.
Pokémon Go, the hit mobile game, brought augmented reality right into the mainstream and caught the attention of marketers looking for the next big thing. Augmented reality is not the same thing as virtual reality. In AR, users are offered graphical enhancements to the physical environment they’re living in. The eyewear industry incorporates AR into their websites seamlessly. Sites such as Lenscrafters have specific websites that allow customers to virtually try on any eyewear product in the Lenscrafters’ stock.
If you work in the ecommerce space or sell items that need to be tried on prior to purchase, revamping your website to accommodate AR might be good to look into.
Technology is changing rapidly and evolving trends make it difficult for websites to stay static. Companies need a competitive edge and the best way to do so is identifying differentiating factors that help your website stand out. Trends like the “not-com” revolution and the growing presence of virtual reality will result in websites that are about more than just media and content.Scheduling routine checkups for your website and bringing your pages up to date are great ways to ensure your business won’t get lost in the dark hole of the internet.