In hindsight, we can surmise why some businesses managed to prosper in 2020 while so many failed. Some success stories are obvious (Netflix, GrubHub, people who make masks), but what’s behind the success of other businesses that didn’t have promising and well-timed products or services?
The kiss of death for many enterprises during the pandemic was the lack of an online presence. Businesses that flourished, however, offered an exceptional online experience rather than a basic, cursory website. Those businesses focused on user experience (UX) and cultivated a web presence with a polished design, interactivity, ease of use and maximum performance that stood out from their competition.
If you’re looking to grow your business in 2021, consider implementing these top web development trends to differentiate and transform your web presence.
The improved accessibility of artificial intelligence (AI) has led to the development of machine learning – coding machines to think like humans and giving them access to the internet’s vast amounts of data.
Machine learning has produced significant improvements in web technologies such as chatbots. AI-powered chatbots can understand user queries and respond with answers that are intelligent and precise. They can serve up product information and other content that is personalized, making the customer service exchange faster and more effective. Implementing an AI-powered chatbot on your website is a significant UX improvement over traditional one-size-fits-all chatbots.
Benefits of AI chatbots:
- Instant and consistent answers
- 24/7 availability
- Personalized responses
- Lower costs for customer care
- Expedited and increased sales
Another emerging field of AI is Natural Language Processing (NLP). NLP applications use machine learning to understand natural human communication and respond in kind.
NLP has paved the way for conversational AI – the voice assistance aspect of voice search that’s been trending. Voice assistance involves using your voice to interact with intelligent technology, or digital voice assistants like Alexa or Siri.
Conversational AI results in more intelligent search as well as Internet of Things (IoT) connectivity. You can interface with IoT-connected computers, devices and sensors using your voice. It also leads to personalized interactions by analyzing a customer’s previous interactions to deliver tailor-made information.
Benefits of conversational AI:
- Increased accessibility
- Automation of manual data entry
- Improved customer support and engagement
- Lower customer service costs
- Streamlined sales process
Progressive Web Apps
In the U.S. today, more Google searches take place on mobile devices than on computers. It makes sense, then, that web development takes a mobile-first approach.
Top among mobile-friendly technologies is Progressive Web Apps (PWAs). PWAs produce websites that feel and work like a mobile app yet are loaded within a browser. Because web browser technologies are much easier to deploy and maintain than building native mobile apps, PWA-enabled websites load quickly, work offline and provide a seamless user experience.
Benefits of PWAs:
- Display web pages properly despite a poor internet connection when offline
- Mobile app-like behavior without complicated installation
- Lower costs than other apps
- Fast and intuitive navigation and design
- Smartphone features
Accelerated Mobile Pages
And speaking of mobile-friendly, another must-have technology is Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMPs). An AMP is an HTML page that has been stripped down so that it only supplies necessary, static information like text and images. This allows for the lightning-fast load times needed for mobile use.
Users of mobile phones generally don’t have time to waste. AMP web pages are 85% faster than non-accelerated mobile pages. And when users get the information they need faster, they stay on your website, leading to increased sales.
Benefits of AMPs:
- Fast page load times
- Lower bounce rates
- Increased conversion rates
- Better mobile experience for users
- Did we mention fast?
A single-page application (SPA) is an app that works within a browser and requires a page to be loaded only once. It is a literal and figurative time-saver in that once a page is loaded, certain contents of the page are dynamically rewritten, rather than continually loading pre-rendered pages from a server.
When a user interacts with the app, they can navigate to different components without waiting for pages to load. They don’t have to click through multiple links and menus to get to desired information. They only need to scroll.
Benefits of SPAs:
- Fast page loading
- Seamless user experience
- Reduced server load
- Less required bandwidth
- The use of cached data
You have 15 seconds to capture the attention of your user. Content may be king, but additional interactive elements that improve your user interface (UI) can also serve to reduce your bounce rate.
Using motion strategically allows businesses to guide users with visual cues. Animations can communicate to users where they should focus or what to do next, and eye-catching, moving elements can entertain the user and hold their attention while a page loads. Motion UI is an effective way to create an exceptional user experience.
Benefits of motion UI:
- Conveys information quickly
- Grabs and holds the user’s attention
- Lower bounce rate
- Cost and time effectiveness
- Raises brand awareness
Imagine the impact of COVID-19 on businesses without cloud computing. Work-from-home would not have been possible without cloud, or serverless, architecture. Although many businesses had to scramble to get their operations online, remote work has now become mainstream.
Cloud computing allows for businesses to program and run applications or services without having to maintain servers. In particular, look for Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) to rise in popularity. Cloud SaaS solutions serve up pre-configured, ready-to-use software that doesn’t require time-consuming installation or expensive hardware.
Benefits of serverless architecture:
- Cost savings
- Faster installation and time-to-market
- Automatic software updates
- Reduced system overload
A Look to the Future
Throughout the web development trends we’ve highlighted runs a common thread – the importance of the user experience. Technologies that improve UX in some way – whether through user-facing elements like streamlined design or interactivity or through system improvements running in the background – must be included in your web strategy in 2021 and beyond.
Want to know if your website is set up for success? Contact us today for an audit of your existing website!