What's in this article?
There is little question that consumer and business behaviors are changing because of all of our Coronavirus experiences. The question I want to explore in this article is what changes will be necessitated in the web experiences we design and develop?
How Coronavirus Has Changed Us
Let’s begin with a few assumptions about Coronavirus behavioral changes. I could write whole thought pieces on each of these, but I will attempt to keep them to bullet points.
[If you want to chat more on each of these, jump into this Twitter thread]
- People will go to your website first (even if you have a physical space). If you don’t have a website get one up immediately
- People expect to be able to fully solve their problem(s) or get what they need from you via the web. This means actionable content and clear next steps.
- People assume that they can engage with real people without having to leave their homes
- People expect to be able to engage with you via their computer and mobile phone without any additional software, apps, or technical skill
- People expect you will follow-up and pursue them through your process, not the other way around
Increasingly Important Web Design Patterns
As expectations increase for websites new design patterns will emerge and old ones will need to become more robust. Here’s the start of my running list of emerging design patterns.
Home and landing pages will need to be more dynamic
This will require every website to be on a robust and simple to use Content Management System. Backend interfaces will need to be designed and developed to tie into the frontend user experience in a simple and intuitive way. This will necessitate the use of visual editors like WordPress’ Gutenberg.
When COVID-19 hit it sent us all scrambling to stick up clumsy alert bars because we couldn’t quickly redesign the whole home page. That was okay for the moment, but already so much more is being expected.
Consumers are being forced to rely on your website for everything. This requires you to update your website frequently. In the future, they’re likely to expect them to be responsive to search queries, referring websites, or even their past visits and behaviors. At the very least consumers will expect your website to be contextually aware and relevant to current events and market conditions.
Inline, relevant, and intuitive form experiences
As web visitors consume your content, there will be an expectation that the time they spend on your site will lead them to actionable solutions.
One of the obvious responses to that expectation is designing single-step actions or questions that kick off a helpful discussion with a web visitor. That is most likely realized in an inline, multi-part, conditional form that guides your visitor to the right solution and doubles as a qualifying lead form
With the rise of mobile as a primary computing device, phone calls from websites are resurging as a popular interface. To satisfy this preference you’ll need to dust off and up your phone game on the website.
Phone numbers need to be more obvious and in line with content that is likely to generate questions. Included with this should be technology to enable click-to-call and tracking.
The natural evolution of the phone interface is the ability to text message that number and enter into your CSRs queues for real-time response and assistance.
More intelligent chat that is tightly integrated with real CSRs and SDRs
Intelligent and AI-enhanced chatbots have been emerging as a more common website feature and experience, even before the Coronavirus. However, with the advent of a mandate (and possibly a more persistent preference) for contactless services, smart and truly useful chat is going to be essential.
Here are some of the ways I can see these features maturing.
- Chat must go beyond your FAQ
- Chat and chat-like nudges will begin to guide and recommend content and answers based on behaviors. Paused on a page? Chat will ask a guiding question to recommend a different page
- Chats that start with AI, evaluate requests and rapidly solve the issue or routes you to a skilled CSR/SDR to work towards a 100% online resolution rate.
- Chats that are interchangeably voice or text.
- Chats that can begin with smart speakers and voice assistants and seamlessly hand-off to your website and live CSR/SDRs.
- Continually improving natural language abilities across text and voice.
As a result of continually improving chat and natural language skills, it’s conceivable that websites will slowly disappear as we know them today – evolving into the zero-interface paradigm. Content and media will continue to increase in richness and creativity, but the constraint of the browser frame might slowly disappear.
Video chat experiences with CSRs and SDRs
Finally, at least for this thought piece, I think that the sudden explosion of Zoom and video-first meetings and chats will bring on an expectation for face-to-face, one-on-one video interactions directly and spontaneously from your website.
These sessions would most likely be manned by CSRs and SDRs and be an option or alternative to traditional phone support. This, like live call centers, reintroduces the question of scale and capacity, but I think it will become a real, relevant, and reasonable expectation.
Redesign or Iterate?
Reading through this you’re probably wondering, “Where do I start?” After that thought your natural response might be that you need to redesign your website. Of course that’s expensive and potentially even risky considering our current business environment.
That brings me to another trend that I think will come to web design and development – web design and development iteration over the “blow it up” and redesign it mentality.
At the end of the day, a website is a software “codebase.”
Critical enterprise applications and commercial software providers have lived in a world where whole cloth reimagining a software application and forcing every user to replace it with the new version is not an option. As a condition of this circumstance, they have long ago embraced the notion of iterations, updates, and refactoring. This brings new user experiences and features to the software even though it’s in active use.
I think website design and development in the future will adapt to this concept of iterating by refactoring projects as company websites become more mission-critical and central to business operations, not just the marketing department.
If you need some help, my agency Kaleidico would love to get you started or guide you through the full journey.
The next step is simply scheduling a free discovery call.
We’ll ask you to complete a brief background questionnaire that our team will review before the call, then we’ll go through an abbreviated version of our business objectives and website experience gap analysis. From this discussion, we’ll see if there’s a fit to move forward with a project or engagement.
Schedule your call. It costs nothing and is guaranteed to return a ton of value.