It’s time to reimagine websites, says Katrina Bell. This year we need to throw out those annoying automated features and put person-to-person interactions at the forefront.
Designing interactions that make sense to all ages and capabilities is just one way 2023 will see sites and socials have more rewarding user experiences.
Here are four directions the smart sites will be taking:
1. Custom, personalised content
Sounds too futuristic? Think again. We already interact with the world’s most popular website this way – Google. Every time you visit, cookies create an algorithm just for you to show the sort of content you have previously viewed. So if you look for a sushi place in your home town, the results page will look different to someone from out of the area who has never searched for those terms.
This capability will be vitally important for e-commerce sites in particular. You may already be used to seeing reminders of abandoned cards, the next stage will be showing visitors previously viewed products and most visited parts of the sites without having to log in will be a basic expectation.
2. Hybrid checkouts will combat soft trading
As e- turns to m-commerce (mobile commerce), we will be guarding our data even more closely. While we want super-streamlined shopping experiences, intrusive sign-up forms with multiple fields to fill don’t match our desire for privacy. Hybrid checkouts have several smart features, the most important being that if you log in on one device, it can handoff to another. Linking your mobile and your tablet will speed up the process and also allow for greater use of guest checkouts with this tool in hand.
Maturing use of bank-style biometrics will help that transformation while also adding another layer of security. Allowing sign-ups via social credentials has become popular in recent years – the migratory habits of consumers will set up the perfect opportunity for fingerprints to be a permanent symbol of identity.
3. More meaningful customer service touchpoints
It’s counterintuitive to expect visitors to surrender themselves to robots in pop-up boxes claiming they are there to help you. Research consistently finds palpable frustration over chat bots that ultimately just slow the journey towards a human being.
People want people to interact with and are prepared to surrender a portion of their time to seek them out on other platforms such as Twitter or Facebook.
Rather than offering 24/7 automated support, offering the option to either use a blend of social media, email or even a site-specific chat tool during office hours will increase satisfaction levels immediately.
4. Thumb-first hotspots
Minimalist, streamlined designs will mean extraneous words will be replaced by bespoke graphics and images as actions. Successful designs will allow users to navigate one-handed using large-area buttons that have been created specifically for your site. Stock imagery has always had a credibility problem for consumers who instinctively gravitate to photography with personality which is another good reason to start building hotspots from the ground up.
For myself I would like to finish off these three tired and ineffective website features: online contact forms, famous for ghosting anyone optimistic enough to use one, to be permanently deleted; brand blogs binned in favour of collaborative content curated for social media; and last but not least, the end of passive aggressive calls to action that try to guilt visitors into staying on the site or handing over your digital data assets. Here’s to 2023!