As we enter another new year, there’s an abundance of tech developments and industry changes we’ve all got to be prepared for.
We’ve pulled together the trends, predictions and recommendations you need to be aware of in 2018 and as always, please feel free to leave your thoughts and predictions in the comments section.
Prevalence of single page apps (SPAs)
Lisa Patel, Senior Front-end Developer
Continued focus on ‘mobile-first’
To many it’s obvious, the importance of mobile to businesses is as important in 2018 as it has been the past few years. More users than ever are searching through their mobile device and Google has started the process of indexing websites according to their mobile content (with the big shift happening at the end of the year). There’s no shortage of stats to illustrate the critical role of mobile, for instance Google report 61% of users are unlikely to return to a website if they had trouble accessing it via mobile. Knowing the optimisation of mobile is key in driving success, business need to adapt and tailor their research techniques to capture mobile user behaviour in a more detailed manner. With ability to gather natural and instantaneous user feedback, shifting focus to ethnographic research feels like the logical next step & those that do it will be more than ready for Google.
Jen Batchelor, Optimisation Strategist
The new UX design tool on the block
We’ve seen the evolution of wireframing and prototyping tools over the last few years with strong offerings from Sketch and Adobe XD.
These have had their pros and cons (see our previous blog post on the subject) and with the likes of Invision offering third party integrations, the UX community have managed to utilise this arsenal of tools for their needs.
Excitingly for UXers, there’s a new tool on the horizon that could take all the best elements from it’s competitors and service the community needs.
That tool is Studio by Invision. PRWD have always been a big fan of the folks over at Invision and this new offering could be the UX design tool that finally does ‘everything’ we need it to do. Studio is expected to be released at the end of January and we can’t wait to get our hands on it!
Phil Williams, Head of Optimisation & UX
The potential of Progressive Web Apps & WebP
I predict there will be an increase in progressive web app development due to the benefits it offers users. Essentially, a user can have a similar experience using a web app as to a mobile app without having to install it (removing the constant battle with phone memory). A web app also offers the ability for a user to use the website offline. Providing an offline browsing experience (especially for those who are regular train commuters) will only make the user happier. Dovetailing with this trend will be the use of website push notifications. It won’t just be another method of getting informational content or marketing material in front of a user. If used smartly, it will enhance the user experience by offering a more tailored and relevant experience.
One other thing: more people will take advantage of the new image format for the web, “WebP”. It provides superior lossless and lossy compression, meaning smaller file sizes while maintaining amazing image quality. Using WebP will help optimise website load speed reducing load time for the end user. Everyone’s a winner.
Matt Falconer, Front-end Developer
Providing a contextual experience is the next step in the evolution of personalisation. Thanks to the penetration of mobile devices, the ‘always connected user’ world is full of stimulus; so to be relevant to users is a competitive advantage. Traditional personalisation is no longer enough, users expect relevant offers, content, interactions. They expect immediate response to their needs; for brands to know them, understand them and make their life easier. Despite 91% of consumers reporting that personalised content had an impact on their purchasing decision, there is a gap between consumers stated desire for personalisation and the ability of retailers to meet this desire. Moving forward, retailers need to develop this understanding of their users, identify them and anticipate their needs in realtime.
Zoe Ward, Optimisation Strategist
AI & Machine Learning
The focus for 2018 has definitely got to be emergence of AI and Machine Learning. As two of the biggest buzz words in the digital marketing industry at the moment, businesses are waking up to what this might mean for them. A recent study has shown that in 2017 the transformative impact of Voice, AI, and Machine Learning has been felt across the entire business landscape with 55% of marketers surveyed agreeing that Machine Learning will allow them to make better decisions in 2018. 56% of the marketers surveyed highlighted “effectively managing large data sets to deliver personalization and relevant one-to-one experience” as their main priority in 2018. Now that last sentence is an objective at the very core of any good CRO practice. We always want to deliver to best experience, tailored to the individual user, to provide our clients with the most profitable outcome. Usually new innovations are pioneered by the platforms, such as Google or the testing tools themselves. However, this can’t be said for machine learning. The emergence has been that fast and so readily embraced, that we as an agency are having to pioneer our own methods of machine learning based on the clients we’re engaged by.
That’s what makes this area of the industry one of the most challenging, yet exciting.
Rick Birtles, Senior Data Analyst
Re-evaluating the approach to digital
A small percentage of savvy brands will choose to go back to basics: fix their user experience, improve their usability, pull back on investing in expensive, feature rich tools. Instead, they will be investing more in people and most importantly, they’ll start speaking to their customers in a myriad of different ways (see Jen’s comment). Companies will realise that until they have the foundations in place with a good user experience and a customer-centric mindset within their business, they aren’t in the strongest position to grow.
Paul Rouke, Founder & Director of Optimisation