Web technologies are changing along with customer expectations for ease of navigation, real help when needed, greater inter-connectivity and functionality, and security. Branding and specific products or information drive you to sites. Once there, however, you and other users expect them to provide the functionality users expect today and in the foreseeable future.
To stay competitive, websites and web-based solutions must evolve and incorporate yet-to-debut tools to simplify their lives, whether accessed via phone, tablet, computer or a smart home assistant. There are several hot trends in 2018 and emerging web development priorities that customers likely want incorporated in projects.
The ‘internet of things’
Whereas the internet connected information, the “internet of things” refers to inter-connectivity being incorporated into more products, devices, appliances and processes. Each IoT-connected item has an embedded computing system that can be controlled or provides information to other devices or websites via the existing internet. These can be home appliances, medical monitoring devices, electronic transponders and countless other things that use data or sensors.
Cisco predicts one million new connections per hour will be added to the internet of things by 2020, and Gartner forecasts nearly 20 billion devices will be connected by then. 2018 could be a breakout year for internet of things devices, with uses going far beyond controlling the thermostat and ordering supplies to deployments in health care, manufacturing and other business products and workflows requiring real-time analytics.
Due to the complexity of an internet of things platform, most companies will not want to create one from scratch. Instead, it is more efficient to use a pre-built platform, then develop specifically for the analytics tier, which processes data, and the end-user tier, which is what the consumer uses to interact with the organization. Additionally, websites that display the usage information and allow people to control the devices will be needed.
Single-page (“flat”) websites are becoming more popular because they are easy to use and cross-platform accessible. They lack the complexities of multilevel menus requiring users to hunt for information, so single-page websites are simpler to develop and host. While single-page websites are not well-suited for online stores or shopping, they are great for displaying projects or portfolios.
Developing a one-page website that presents things in a simple, engaging manner requires web design and user experience expertise. It also requires revamping the taxonomy and layout of an existing site, paring down content and creating a clear vision of how the entity should be portrayed.
HTML5 instead of Flash
In 2010, Steve Jobs predicted the death of Flash with the advent of the smartphone and tablet. Websites still using Flash are losing out on traffic because the outdated technology is incompatible with most mobile devices. HTML5 is the best alternative today for developing digital content, videos and games that can be widely used.
Jeff Jaffe, CEO of the World Wide Web Consortium says that HTML5 has become the only version of HTML that people are using in browsers and websites today. The W3C anticipates more frequent, potentially annual updates to the core HTML specification. But they do not anticipate whole-number upgrades, such as from HTML5 to HTML6, anytime soon. So using HTML5 is important for updating current as well as future web development until further notice.
Customer service chatbots
Customer service chatbots (those pop-up chat boxes that allow users to get real-time help) are a smart investment with a discernible ROI. Customers want problems to be addressed immediately. Instead of staffing a 24/7 customer service department, companies and organizations are adding chatbots to their sites to assist customers and improve processes without human help. If not there yet, websites will be getting a chatbot to answer questions, direct people to the appropriate page, help them to select a product and proceed to checkout. Eventually, customers will prefer websites where they know help is instantly available. Gartner predicts that 85 percent of customer interaction will take place without the involvement of humans by 2020.
Chatbots are becoming increasingly sophisticated. With natural-language processing, they connect with customers in everyday language, can be programmed to take on a company’s brand personality and use artificial intelligence to connect with users and quickly discern how to help them.
Blockchain technology, which involves a shared, decentralized, tokenized ledger, allows parties to make secure commercial transactions. Bitcoin and other cyber currencies use the technology, which uses a complex algorithm to verify and protect transactions. Thus, many multinational banks are considering the possibility of implementing blockchain in their work.
Blockchain remains an incipient technology. However, it has potential applications in the future for many industries, including government, health care, and banking. It may be too early to consider using the blockchain in the development process, but companies should keep a close eye on how the technology develops in the near future.
Incorporating new technology
Websites continually change based on user data, testing, trends, and new technology. While revamping a site is a considerable undertaking, websites should evolve and incorporate new advances in technology. Integrating these and other transformative web development trends demonstrates that the website – and the company behind it – will provide the best possible experience for its customers.
At Zibtek, we offer custom software solutions for businesses of all sizes. Our digital strategy, design, and custom software development solutions have helped a wide range of clients to meet their goals—ask for a free consultation to find out whether we can do the same for your business.