Steve Waddell, Director of Education
2020 has been an unprecedented year for businesses in all industries. Societal and economic shifts have made web professionals like you more important than ever, so it’s critical to remain at the forefront of industry trends that will shape the rest of the year leading into 2021. As a web professional, connecting with your target audience while continuing to meet the needs of your customers or clients requires spending time strategizing how your web presence will propel your business forward. Let’s take a look at 5 of the trends that are driving web design and development.
Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR)
AR and VR have been growing for some time, and that will certainly continue in the coming years. People today consume web content on a variety of devices, including tablets and mobile phones. Utilizing AR and VR to show customers how products work, no matter what device they are on, puts businesses a step ahead of the competition. AR and VR tools include videos and images, with many of them available in 360 degree viewing experiences. Some of the most influential tech companies like Google and Facebook have invested in AR and VR as a technology that will drive business in the future.
Cybersecurity and Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Maximizing the possibilities of cybersecurity and AI will continue to be important for business heading into 2021 and beyond. Web professionals need to be aware of the latest cybersecurity tools and how to best protect customer information from hacks and data breaches. AI plays a big role in cybersecurity, with AI networks and machine learning helping web and security professionals learn about the latest tools hackers are using to disrupt websites. Stay up-to-date with the latest news on cybersecurity to ensure you are doing everything you can to keep the data of your customers safe and give them peace of mind in doing business with you.
Companies are finding that highly sophisticated chatbots can replace humans in meeting various customer service needs. Customers love chatbots for their ease of use and instant answers to questions—eliminating the need to send an email or call you and wait for an answer. In addition to all of the technical aspects that web professionals must worry about, it’s important to not forget about keeping customer service on point so that you retain existing customers while attracting new ones. Chatbots are exploding in popularity so rapidly that Gartner estimates that by the end of 2020 85% of customer interactions will be held without a human customer support representative. Additionally, chatbots are projected to be the biggest consumer application for AI in the next 5 years.
Digital voice assistants like Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri have had a huge impact on the web in a relatively short period of time. Driven by AI, which we have touched on, these are more than just tools. They are an example of machine learning, as they can learn about user habits and utilize it to improve performance. Voice search is a real example of how AI impacts our daily lives—including checking the weather, playing music, ordering groceries and staying in touch with friends and family. In fact, Alexa can perform over 70,000 skills. With people increasingly using voice search rather than typing keywords into Google, it is important for web professionals to understand how voice search will impact consumer behavior.
Let’s face it: it can be difficult getting your business to stand out from the crowd. One of the best ways to maximize online exposure, and do so at minimal cost, is to focus on search engine optimization (SEO). Doing so will help improve your content in search results and put you above the competition. The higher up you are for keywords related to your business, the more traffic you will generate to your site. SEO can be achieved through optimizing your web pages and creating content frequently, such as blog posts about news in your industry.
As you seek to develop and maintain user-friendly websites, keep these trends in mind. Consider how they are impacting and will continue to impact customer behavior. Staying informed about these trends will improve your company’s web presence and keep you a step ahead of the competition.