3 hot new website trends to look out for this year
Here are our predictions for how the no-longer-new normal will influence and shape the development of the website this year. Our starting point is that there’s one thing pretty much guaranteed about this year: the pandemic will still be with us in some form or another.
- Better eCommerce UX
Once upon a time, digital services felt like an optional extra for physical retailers. But with more than half the world experienced some form of lockdown in 2020, eCommerce has suddenly become the only game in town. Businesses whose doors were shuttered by government decree have had to rapidly shift their operations online, and those who failed to do so, or just didn’t do it well enough, have gone to the wall.
Recent data from IBM’s U.S. Retail Index, for example, suggests that department stores in America are expected to decline by over 60 percent by the end of last year, while eCommerce is projected to grow by nearly 20 percent. While this may have been a shock to some, it’s essentially just accelerated a trend that already existed: the move from physical to digital retail. And there’s certainly no going back: even in countries where things have returned to some kind of normality, shoppers who first learned how to order online in 2020 now have a habit that’s likely to stick.
It’s clear then that this year, more people will be buying more stuff online. And companies have to develop more reliable, faster-loading websites and apps, not to mention more consumer-friendly UX, or get left for dust by the competition.
Building an eCommerce site, or looking to improve an existing one? Check out these great eCommerce sites, all launched this year, for shoe boutique Fruit by AWD; cannabinoid company Mineral by Works and Moonhatch, and wellbeing brand Juno by Rod Matveev.
- Enhanced product photography
Shopping online is generally far easier and more convenient than trudging around from store to store. But there’s a big problem when it comes to non-generic items such as clothes and furniture. Not being able to see, touch, and feel these products in real life makes it very difficult to decide whether you’re buying the right thing or not.
For this reason, we’ve been seeing a move in 2021 away from small thumbnail images towards large and detailed pictures of products on websites. Many also let you view in 3D, and rotate them through 360 degrees. Great examples can be found on the new sites for VanMoof’s next-generation e-bikes, Tula microphones, and Apple’s AirPods Pro, designed in-house. Other companies, equally usefully, let you view their products in context. For example, Airbnb offers immersive 3D tours of a property before you rent it, while IKEA uses an AR app to let you see what a sofa would look like in your own room.
As we continue to spend more time at home and shopping online in 2021, we’re expecting to see a lot more innovation in this area. That said, you don’t need to be a technical genius to help consumers get a feel for your products on your website. Just take a photo of your product next to a human hand, for example, can do wonders for giving customers an idea of what it’s really like.
- Enhanced video conferencing
It’s difficult to imagine what lockdown would have been like 10 years ago, before widespread availability in the West, at least of fast internet and video conferencing apps. Thankfully, most of us stuck at home during the pandemic have been able to keep up with colleagues and friends in this way.
The tech is not without limitations, though, with everything from poor connectivity to ‘Zoombombing’ where pranksters hijack meetings they’ve not been invited to making many people’s early experiences of videoconferencing more difficult than it needed to be. So it’s good that competition between platforms has driven massive innovation through 2020, including the launch of brand new services such as the super-secure Vidicue.
Just in the last few weeks, Zoom has announced new Slack-like functionality will be coming to its platform, Microsoft Teams has released a flurry of new features to help large companies organize better online conferences, and Cisco has debuted Webex Classrooms, which lets teachers set up online classes, schedule virtual office hours and parent-teacher conferences.
We’re expecting the heightening rivalry between these platforms to dovetail with continuing huge demand this year 2021, even if the pandemic lessens. After all, so many of us have enjoyed virtual meetings and conferences in 2020 (particularly the need to devote less time and effort to commuting, traveling, and hotel stays). This means that even if society returns to normal, that’s another habit that’s likely, at least in part, to stick.
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3 hot new website trends to look out for this year
Here are our predictions for how the no-longer-new normal will influence and shape the development of the website this year….