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10 Things That Have Changed Since You Last Updated Your Website

When was the last time you updated your website?

A website that was considered up-to-date just a few years ago is now likely to be less secure, less effective – and in some cases even illegal. It might be time to have another look since the last time you updated your website. 

Technology advances, web usability standards evolve and user expectations rise. Businesses know that they need to adapt to new developments to remain competitive, but with everything advancing at the speed it is, updating a website can be seen as an overwhelming task.

A big website redesign doesn’t have to be on the cards next month, but make sure you’re regularly updating your website to stay competitive. And, if you haven’t updated your website recently, here are ten crucial developments that you should be aware of:

  1. Website Smarter Chatbots are Getting Smarter
  2. Low Carbon Website Mode
  3. Web Content Personalisation
  4. Typographical Website Design
  5. Technical SEO and Core Web Vitals
  6. Agile Methodology in Website Projects
  7. Website Security
  8. Website Accessibility
  9. Website Interactivity
  10. Modern Web Design Trends

 

1. Website Chatbots are Getting Smarter

Someone speaking to a chatbot

Chatbots have come a long way since their inception. What was once commonly used as a basic customer service tool, has evolved into sophisticated Artificial Intelligence (AI) agents that are smarter, faster and more helpful. Modern chatbots use Natural Language Processing (NLP) and AI to understand user questions and respond with relevant and contextual responses. They are not only prevalent on websites but they are now being incorporated across the entire digital landscape such as messaging platforms, social media, and voice-activated devices. In fact, it was five years ago that Google launched an (at the time), revolutionary AI Assistant, Google Duplex, that had the ability to make appointments. It’s amazing how much further technology has progressed in such a short time – and the chances are your competitors are already using this type of chatbot on their website.

Integrating an intelligent chatbot on your website can enhance customer support, increase engagement, and even drive sales. However, they won’t work for everyone and you must use them correctly. Spamming your visitors as soon as they land on your site could end up increasing bounce rates, so it’s important to consider your audience before implementing chatbots on your site. Running A/B tests will also help to ensure that your chatbots are sending the right messages, at the right times.

 

2. Low Carbon Website Mode

An often overlooked aspect of climate impact is the internet. The average website produces 1.76g of CO2 every year and more complex websites that take more energy to load have an even bigger climate impact. Jack Amend, the co-founder of Web Neutral Project explains, “The internet is essentially the largest coal-fired machine on the entire planet”, and with 1.31 Billion websites currently active, it’s no wonder some organisations are prioritising low-impact sites.

For organisations taking steps to reduce their carbon footprint overall, a crucial component is their website. Introducing an ‘energy-saving mode’ is an effective way to reduce emissions. Low-carbon website modes prioritise energy efficiency by minimising resource-intensive elements such as large images, videos and scripts, which contribute to high energy consumption.

If you’re looking to lower your website’s climate impact, it’s useful to begin by calculating your website’s carbon footprint. Use sites like Carbon Calculator to find out what areas you could optimise to improve loading times and tips to reduce your website’s energy consumption.

 

3. Web Content Personalisation

Someone choosing a specific user

Content personalisation is the website strategy used to deliver content that is targeted and relevant to specific user characteristics. For example, mortgage software provider, Mortgage Brain employs user segmentation cleverly to allow users to tailor their journey throughout the website completely. Many websites go much further than this – particularly media providers – where the visible content is intelligently linked to every user’s past browsing behaviour.

Content personalisation has become a key driver of user engagement and conversions. Website users expect more tailored experiences based on their preferences, behaviour and demographics and websites are becoming stronger at identifying users and defining their specific journeys. An effective content personalisation strategy uses data analytics and research to deliver targeted content to specific types of users through an in-depth understanding of their user persona, increasing the chances of conversion or customer retention. By utilising personalisation techniques, you can create more relevant and compelling user experiences on your website.

 

4. Typographical Website Design

Typography has come a long way since Comic Sans, and it plays a pivotal role in web design. It helps establish hierarchy, enhance user experience and describe the brand’s identity. Designing for readability means choosing adaptive typography that ensures legibility on different screen types, opting for distinctive letterforms and prioritising accessibility.

One of the things that has changed in the last few years is that websites which are primarily typographical in their design scheme have become more mainstream and are no longer the reserve of the avant-garde, creative industries. For example, Sofinnova Partners is a leading European VC firm specialising in healthcare and sustainability, that has utilised a largely typographical design scheme.  

Through typography hierarchy can be established, effortlessly guiding users through content. Bolder, larger fonts emphasise headings and focus text, and lighter headings indicate supporting text. It’s also crucial to be consistent with typography across the website to represent a unified brand identity.

Typography also plays an important role in web accessibility. Typefaces with letters that are too close together, or text that is too small or too crowded make sites illegible and difficult to understand visually. Inaccessible fonts can impact users with disabilities and ultimately penalise a website’s accessibility ratings.

 

5. Technical SEO and Core Web Vitals

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is no longer about keyword stuffing and quantity of content. Working hard on developing lots of content and making web pages as detailed as possible is no longer enough; the team at Crucible have found this the case ourselves! SEO as a science is constantly evolving to adapt to Google’s algorithm, which is based on its research in relation to user behaviour. Websites that appear higher in search results will have a combination of high-quality content and good UX.

Search engines are smarter than ever and will prioritise content that is valuable and relevant. However, alongside powerful content, search engines will also rank websites on user experience and performance. Core Web Vitals are essential ranking factors, analysing loading speeds, engagement and readability. Websites that perform well in Core Web Vitals, as well as other technical SEO aspects, such as security, mobile-friendliness and SEO-friendly site architecture, are likely to rank higher in search results.

 

6. Agile Methodology in Website Projects

Working with agile in web development

The Agile methodology is a project management process that breaks a project down into phases and encourages a more collaborative and iterative process. It allows for more flexibility when working on larger projects, with the ability for teams to adapt to changing requirements.  

Web design and development teams are embracing Agile as a methodology as it lets teams respond to changing business and technological requirements mid-project, whenever necessary to deliver the best end result. It also encourages a longer-term view of website projects – continual improvement makes for stronger and more impactful results, at the same time as safeguarding an organisation’s investment in its website. 

Generally speaking, agile project management will make for more successful websites, with greater ROI. Not all organisations will be able to make use of it effectively, but those that can, should. For more information on how to run website projects effectively, check out our guide on website project management.

The collaborative nature of Agile supports cross-functional teams to work more efficiently together and improves communication. Because of this, websites are evolving at much faster speeds than ever before and it can be tough to stand out from the crowd if your processes don’t allow you to keep up.

 

7. Website Security

60% Of SMEs That Suffer A Cyber Attack Go Out Of Business Within Six Months – TechRound, 2023 

As technology advances, so does the risk of cybercrime associated with it. For example, the rise in remote working has required stronger security protocols such as VPNs and phishing websites are becoming even more sophisticated. For organisations, cyber hygiene; the act of regularly keeping devices and systems secure is vital. 

In a new study by the Institute for Internet Security, researchers found that only 6% of websites are running on fully up-to-date software, leaving the out-of-date websites completely vulnerable to cybercrime. Prolonging vital software updates leaves your organisation at risk of cybercrime, potentially costing you millions. In fact, as of 2022, the average cost of a malware attack was $2.6 million, a hefty fine for delaying software updates.

 

8. Website Accessibility

Website Accessibility WCAG 2.2

Accessible websites promote usability and user engagement across a diverse spectrum of audiences. It allows anyone to be able to interact with a website regardless of disability or situational limitations (eg. slow internet connection or low-light conditions). In fact, adhering to WCAG 2.2 guidelines is now a requirement for public sector websites. However, a recent study found that approximately 96.8% of website home pages have accessibility failures.

Designing for accessibility will help you to reach a wider and more diverse audience, and support SEO rankings by helping crawlers better understand your site’s content. Some common accessibility considerations in web design are visual, hearing, cognitive and neurological. The WC3 Web Accessibility Initiative is an incredibly powerful resource for organisations looking to improve their site’s accessibility.

 

9. Website Interactivity

Interactivity in web design, when used correctly, can increase user engagement, and retention and even drive conversions. Interactivity in web design can include site search functionality, animations, gamification and surveys. Incorporating interactive elements can help to differentiate your brand from competitors and showcase its personality, creativity and values. While interactivity isn’t new, advances in web technology make interactive features like these more accessible than ever to small- and medium-sized businesses, which in B2B marketing can be a game-changer.

Including interactive elements in your website requires delicate consideration as large animations will slow down your site’s overall performance, or using too many surveys may leave your users feeling frustrated – but the right tools at the right moment can have a substantial impact on your organisation’s lead generation.

 

Web design is constantly changing so it’s difficult to keep up-to-date with the latest design trends. However, keeping abreast of developments will help you stand out from the crowd. Incorporating modern design trends is essential to keeping your site looking and feeling fresh. Modern design trends can include visible grids, full-page headers, white space and gradients but depending on your sector and audience some may be more applicable than others.

Sites like Behance and Siteinspire are useful resources for organisations looking for inspiration and to keep up-to-date with the latest trends.

If it’s been a while since you last updated your website, get in touch with Crucible, London’s leading digital agency, we’d be more than happy to help!

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