In technology, one of the greatest living histories of evolution that we use on a daily basis is the Internet. The leaps and bounds that the Internet has been able to cast into the realm of possibility is astounding. From Wifi to social media and even live streaming, the way we interact with the world is not only mobile but even smaller as well, i.e., smartphones and tablets.
Let’s take a look back at the evolution of the website and breakdown whether not traditional web design is still effective in today’s technological world.
The first website graced us in 1991. It was comprised of all text. Remember, “high-speed Internet” was quite a ways off. So these sites were built light and ready for those painfully slow dial up speeds.
The late-90’s began to focus on the visitor. Flash made its appearance—enabling more sophisticated animation. Due to its ubiquitous browser support, Flash also was used to launch video playback. The use of 3D buttons came about along with bright color changes. And of course with Flash came huge, mind-boggling splash pages with animated images and complex navigation.
The early 2000’s hurdled us into the now! Design became the name of the game and the focus was driven with CSS (cascading style sheets)—causing developers to become interested in predicting the user’s next move.
The mid-2000’s gave us more mature interactivity, a crucial component of the modern websites of today. Web 2.0 was introduced which allowed users to interact with each other. The focus of these websites became SEO (search engine optimization) driven, which focused on getting your site seen through long tailed keywords—hopefully created around your buyer personas.
I get very uncomfortable when someone makes a design decision without customer contact.—Dan Ritzenthaler
That brings us to today. Today's CMS (content management system) based website is now appearing more minimalistic—partly due to WordPress templates and other easy to manage solutions, i.e., website builders like Squarespace and Wix. Relevant content is mandatory through blog posts, webinars, live Q&As and so much more. While graphics, in some cases, have been relegated to flat art design—leaving room for a new wave of art direction.
In fact, today’s website or modern website design focuses on two components:
- User Experience: User experience or UX is the foundation of any website’s success. Because in order for your company to understand your website’s performance, you need to look to the drivers of your design, i.e., your users.
- Mobile Technology: Websites need to be responsive. With mobile devices now accounting for nearly 2 of every 3 minutes spent online, websites must be meet audiences in the formats that suits their specific needs.
So what is a modern website?
A modern website can best be defined by exploring the following attributes:
- HTML5 and CSS: These are the core technologies for building a modern website. They allow functionality that is easily readable by users and consistently understood by devices.
- Responsive Design: Responsive design< is HUGE. Websites need to be able to move seamlessly between multiple devices. This is an art that will be noticed by any person that has navigated the same website from their desktop, phone, or even to their tablet. And believe it or not, this feature can retain your users, or show them the exit—especially when 27% of consumers will leave a site if it is not mobile-optimized.
- Parallax Scrolling: Jack Roscoe of Design Principles describes parallax scrolling as “creating the illusion of depth in a 2D environment by moving two or more objects simultaneously at different velocities.” With that being said, designers use this concept to incorporate a new form of storytelling within their website not only stimulating visual attraction but also user curiosity towards your brand’s story.
- Video: Flash has become a bit of a lame duck in the online space, because now video is the shining star. But we’re not talking about your father's postage stamped sized media player from the nineties. With service providers and CDN's (content delivery networks) providing improved connection speed and playback, properly produced and placed video has captured audiences around the world. In fact, more than 1 billion unique users visit YouTube each month, and these users are spending more than 4 billion hours watching videos. Live streaming and interactive video is where websites are headed. Incorporating video may be the next step in the right direction for your company or you can run the risk of getting left behind.
- Inbound Marketing Web Design: If you don’t know this term by now, you will certainly be seeing this a lot moving forward. Inbound marketing is attracting, converting, closing, and delighting your audience through the sales funnel—transforming them from curious strangers to sales ready leads and ultimately delighted customers. This is the now and the future of marketing especially with the help of the following tools:
- Calls To Action (CTAs): Drive traffic by creating a call to action that guarantees your audience the incentive of a content offer through accessing one of your lead generating landing pages.
- Landing page & forms: Every campaign you run should be tied to a custom landing page—not just another homepage where visitors have to guess where to go next. Forms are necessary for landing pages in order to capture appropriate information, i.e., your audience’s email address, to unlock the desired content offer, e.g., an eBook, webinar, live event, etc. You can also incorporate share buttons on your landing pages—allowing your pages to be shared with others who may also need your content.
- Personalization: People are more than anonymous page views, and you must address them as such. Using smart content with the assistance of your buyer personas is a necessary feature that enables you to personalize your content to different visitors—providing them each with an individualistic experience in every stage of their buyer’s journey.
When creating content, be empathetic above all else. Try to live the lives of your audience.—Rand Fishkin
- Integration with marketing channels: Every marketing tool from content marketing, social media, marketing automation and analytics are all deeply cooperative and connected to a marketer’s contact database. This allows for a complete history of your lead’s interests and interactions—enabling personalization throughout your marketing strategy.
- Growth Driven Design: Though Growth Driven Design is a fairly new concept, it has definitely defined itself as a more practical and effective design practice when it comes to building your website as well as the usually dreaded redesign process. However, it doesn’t have to feel like a dreaded process anymore. Instead you can feel secure in knowing how your website will affect your audience by creating a website with them in mind. By using research based on your website’s performance and your users’ existing habits, Growth Driven Design allows you to build a website fast—allowing users, both new and old, to experience it in order to learn and make necessary adjustments as you go. Now your website no longer has to be static. Through Growth Driven Design, it has become a living, 24/7 lead attracting, converting and closing machine that is centered around your audience’s interests and habits.
Your modern website needs all of these.
The short version of the methodology is this. It is time to stop waving your hands with an outbound approach to marketing and time to start creating quality content to attract customers to you. Your website should have actionable tips, best practices and SEO keyword rankings set to the standards of today and created around your buyer personas—increasing your site visitors and boosting your digital presence.
“Does it better” will always beat “did it first.”—Aaron Levie
All in all, this is what a modern website looks like. By looking back, we can clearly see how past trends have created successful practices today. We’ve transitioned from traditional, business focused static websites to growth driven, user focused assets—which have now become vital features setting us all up for great success tomorrow.
Subscribe to our BLOG
Stay in touch & learn how to attract customers, become a thought leader, create effective marketing campaigns, & more.