What will tomorrow’s websites look like?

From the ‘talking web’ to personalization, what will websites of the future look like?
2 July 2018

Responsive websites were a demand yesterday. What will the future hold for websites? Source: Shutterstock

Oftentimes, a website is the first impression your business will make on a potential client. And more often than not, your website is the very core of your business.

With new generations come new expectations about what web pages should look like and, more importantly, do. No longer do static but functional sites cut it, so what do future generations expect when they go online? WP Engine’s CMO Mary Ellen Dugan explained to TechHQ.

What do customers want when they visit a website?

Based on research we have done, there are two key areas that have really changed from a marketing perspective. One is that there is a shift from ‘inform me’ to ‘entertain me’. The digital experience now has to be entertaining, the content needs to be refreshed continually and it needs to be incredibly engaging. The question for the marketer is: what is the entertaining component we want to bring to our customers?

Sixty-two percent of Generation Z relies on the internet for entertainment vs older generations that use it to be informed. That changes the way brands need to go to market in the future, they have to be cognizant of keeping their audiences’ attention more than ever.

The other big shift is personalization. The expectation has changed, consumers and businesses are giving more and more information to brands and their expectation is that they are going to predict what the consumer needs and it is going to feel really personalized.

Think of it as not one website for tens of millions of people but 10 million sites for that one person.

What are the different ways to keep visitors entertained?

With content and advertising and letting your audience be a part of your brand as an ambassador.

Twenty-Seven percent of Generation Z audiences leave a site after 20 minutes. So, your website has to be constantly updated with really good, authentic content.

It’s quite a challenge, how can companies keep up with what they need to do?

The big change for marketers is that because technology is moving fast, I think forging a good relationship with the IT and R&D group will give them a competitive advantage.

Marketing and the technology teams really need to work together to make sure they have the right tech stack so the message gets through to their customers.

That is the big change. They aren’t separate departments anymore. It may even rise to the chief digital officer because it really needs to be someone who understands marketing and technology.

Tell us more about the so-called ‘talking web’?

For the next and younger generations, the digital experience is really the human experience. They don’t see a delineation between the two because they use it every day.

The talking web is part of that. The text to speech, what you are seeing is that people want that human connection and there is nothing more human than hearing a voice talk to you and feeling like it is very personal.

Thirty-one percent of all generations we serve thought that they would access the web by voice in five years. That is a huge change.

What are the key web technologies companies should be investing in now?

The biggest challenge is that in 2010 there was something like 150 market tech tools and today there are thousands. That makes it really challenging for marketing organizations and their tech partners to understand which solutions to use.

Personalization is only going to get more challenging, it’s really early days; we can tell where a customer is from geography if you give me the information I can be reactive, but how do we get ahead and use data to be predictive? That is a challenge.

The second is in the analytics. You need tools to analyze content and understand what is working.

What else should businesses be thinking about?

We have to be open to adapting to change. If you have a website with a voice component it is going to look and feel very different. Adaptability in what we are doing is really important.

Furthermore, I think the future of the web is authenticity. Our survey suggests that over 40 percent of the next generation wants authenticity. What that means for brands is that they need to have a strong point of view and consistently reinforce it and not be concerned if everyone loves it but more that it is authentic.