8 of Today’s Website Nice-to-Haves That Will Be Tomorrow’s Need-to-Haves: It’s all about “UEO”
For websites “Back in the day” (meaning 3 to 4 years ago), it was “Trendy” and “Modern” to have a mobile web experience or a responsive website design. Now, in Google’s mobile-first world, if you don’t have a responsive website, you are already devalued in search rankings, and definitely losing search visibility as well as engaged and converting visitors by the day.
If you’re pondering your next website re-design (and businesses should be, at least every 3 to 4 years), you want to consider the facets and functionality that give your website its best potential for longevity and competitive market performance. This means providing the best user experience. User Experience Optimization (UEO) is a concept that is increasingly critical to winning online.
Here are eight leading-edge and emerging design and technology trends that are already shaping the state of web design, and are poised to be those “Must-haves” of tomorrow. Why? Because they address and enable better, differentiating UEO. How well are your website experience and digital marketing initiatives delivering these?
1. General User Experience Attention to Details
This includes things like a simplified navigation process, using infographics, and visual elements to facilitate easy consumption of your content. The UEO test should always be applied to creating user-friendly website and landing pages that:
- Deliver on the promise to the click that brought visitors there,
- Reduce friction,
- Clearly show value to the visitor, and
- Guide them through next steps to connect them to what they’re seeking
2. Short Branded Links
New link formats are increasingly becoming available that assist content marketing in brand recognition and positioning, especially in highly shared and character-limited social channels. Examples you may have already seen are: pep.si and nyti.ms. Industry research has shown that branded links have increased click-thru-rates by 35%.
3. Layout That Achieves Your Best Look – Always
Next-gen tools and techniques in page layout and CSS effectively address how the composition of a web page renders on the myriad of different screen-sizes used to access them. Some names at the forefront of this movement include Flexbox, Grid, and Figma. The effort is all about displaying web pages that are easy and pleasant to experience – on any device.
Layouts that “Break out of the box” are a differentiating design tactic. Marketers are painfully aware of the perils of “Banner Blindness” in the layout of digital advertising as online audiences become more savvy. The experience of a website is also susceptible to this concept. Using tactical and tasteful application of unique layouts, like “Broken Grid” or overlapping typographical and graphic elements, can create the experiential flow and desired impact for your audience. The technology to support such design across device types is fast advancing in order to deliver your signature online brand.
4. Scalable Graphics Files (SVG)
As the concern for page load speed intensifies, in addition to quality image rendering across devices, the versatility and small sizes of SVG formatted images is gaining preference in website design.
5. Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)
There is a lot of energy behind Google’s AMP Project, which is essentially a set of open source programming specifications that allow web pages to load extremely fast, and at significantly reduced data use rates, on mobile browsers. In February of 2016, Google formally integrated AMP listings into its mobile search results.
There are strategic development and SEO considerations around developing AMP pages for your website. In today’s mobile first word, this option could make sense for your business.
As the building blocks of user experience, these are the small, simple actions and elements of communication that help users flow through your website. Just a few examples are the visual/audible actions around:
- Clicking a button
- Hover-over states (of images, buttons etc.)
- Adding-to-cart confirmation animation
- Content confirmation of filling in a form field
- Swiping on a mobile page
There many places to powerfully optimize micro-interactions in a website. Identifying and strategically producing these elevates the experience of quality, humanization, and comfort within a brand’s digital property. Holistic and brand-differentiating design is paying much more attention to proper microinteraction details that influence your visitors and prospective customers.
7. Virtual Reality & 360 Video
Video is engaging and has been shown to increase time on site as well as positive perception of a “professional” website. While true Virtual Reality has yet to find its place in mainstream commercial applications, increasing the engagement-appeal of web video is a trending technology. At the forefront of web video advancements is Google VR View, which enables the addition of 360 degree video experiences to desktop mobile websites and native applications.
Video technology for providing “immersive” content enables exceptional user experiences such as: a home builder could provide a “build and walk-through your floorplan” experience to buyers before the ground is broken for construction; or for a travel company to give prospects a virtually ‘live’ spectacular sunset, or scuba dive experience while they are still in the planning stages for their trip. Companies who can not only describe the benefits of their products and services, but immerse prospects in those benefits on their website, will be at a distinct competitive advantage.
8. Content Personalization
The goal of content personalization is to meet your customer with the correct content in the right context and time of their need. Current technology allows us to serve up web content based on:
- Demographics: things we know about visitors personally and professionally,
- Behavior: current and past actions on your website
- Context: the device and browser visitors are using, how they got to your site and if they are logged in
- User-driven “Manual” customization: highlighting for comments & sharing, bookmarking, selecting feed components, following topics and authors, etc.
Correctly executed content personalization approaches the ideal one-to one marketing relationship that accelerates conversion – at scale.
How well does your current website experience deliver these “Elite Eight” differentiators?
Including the above web design and tech trends into a review of your website will ensure that you are strategically positioning to captivate desired visitors and generate leads/sales results.
Is it time to think about a redesign? Wherever you are in this process, here are two handy e-book guides we’ve put together to help organize your efforts:
Contributed by Kimberly McCormick, Bayshore Solutions Director of Corporate Marketing