Current trends in Web design include responsive design, single-page sites, oversized typography, and card-based design. That’s reflective of what’s hot today, but what about tomorrow, next year, and five years from now?
As a marketer, you always want to be one step ahead of the competition in order to consistently and sustainably capture new customers.
In looking into a digital marketing crystal ball, radical changes are ahead in the world of Web technologies and design. And make no mistake, the two are deeply interconnected. Ashu Garg, general partner at the venture capital firm Foundation Capital, is predicting a 10X explosion in marketing technology investments in the coming decade, and this will a have profound impact on Web design.
CMOs are going to need to rethink their Web sites and the technology that powers them in order to thrive, let alone survive, in the future. This includes mastering the following types of changes:
• Screens everywhere: Think about the impact of mobile on Web design. It’s been transformative. How we approach Web design today is light years from what we were doing even just five or six years ago.
Even more than mobile, though, the coming explosion in screens is going to impact how Web sites are conceived and brought to life. In the future, any surface will become a screen, whether a conference room table, a car's dashboard, a hallway wall, a business card, or even a person's T-shirt. If you thought responsive design was a paradigm shift, you ain’t seen nothing yet!
• Interactive UI: It used to be that you used a mouse to tell the computer what you wanted it to do. We now pinch and swipe.
In the future, we'll use hand motions, eye movements, and even thoughts to direct the computer. These technologies may feel futuristic, but actually the research to make these a reality is already well underway. Just look at Google’s $542 million investment in Leap Motion. If you think certain CMOs gained a major advantage by being ahead of the curve with mobile, just wait. The prizes with interactive mastery will be even more significant and game-changing.
• Artificial intelligence: In the future, Web design will see more reliance on software that automatically builds pages based on your stated marketing goals, brand book, and stylistic preferences and then adjusts and expands upon itself based on user behavior versus desired outcomes for the business.
A very primitive version of this is seen in The Grid. This type of artificial intelligence (AI) software will ultimately adjust your designs by screen, with an understanding of different marketing objectives by device (e.g., more transactional for mobile, more informational for desktop, etc.) Smart CMOs will start testing such technologies prior to the rest of the pack and ultimately will find the perfect marriage of human design input with AI-powered scalability.
• Emotion detection: In studies done by the neuroscientist Antonio Damasio, it was uncovered that people with damage to the part of the brain that triggers emotion have an extremely difficult time making purchase decisions. In other words, just about all purchase decisions (even the most boring!) are driven by emotion.
Technologies such as Affectiva’s AFFDEX and Emotient’s AdPanel exist today to assess the consumer's emotional reaction to ads. In the future, emotion sensors will be embedded in a range of devices, enabling the CMO to assess the reaction of site visitors and to immediately react accordingly as a business. Combine automated emotion detection with self-adjusting AI, and our Web sites of the future will be much more sophisticated than anything imaginable today.
• Customer experience: Customer experience is expected to overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator by the year 2020 (Walker Information). Forrester points to various metrics proving the ROI of customer experience.
Customer experience in the future will be job No. 1 of the CMO, and it’s not an overstatement to say that the CMO of the future as a result will need to learn to be the chief experience officers of their companies. This means that the Web sites of the future will need to be more than functional and aesthetically pleasing. They’ll need mechanisms for easy and frictionless customer feedback capture, empowering CMOs to transform them from information sources to finely tuned experience platforms.