Every business owner or team experiences SBS – Shiny Bauble Syndrome – that feeling of euphoria over a new device or tool. Well one tool certainly has come a long way from generating its initial SBS symptoms.
Websites are no longer that shiny bauble of a technology item that they were when they were first introduced in 1990. They are now the essential business asset. Combined with widespread Internet access, websites level the playfield regarding marketing exposure for small and large businesses.
But it’s been over 20 years since the Internet was first created, according to Wired. Since that time, more programming language have expanded the websites role to become the aforementioned asset. My thoughts are turning to the most recent few years – How do experienced web designers see the consequence of these changes to web design and in many ways web analytics? I asked this question on Linked In, as well as from other professionals around New York and assembled responses and thought on how this transformation is altering websites and business.
The digitalization of media clearly is an influence to expanding information consumption. Unlike the first website of 1990 we are no longer bound by using a document. Take video for example. Ursula von Rydingsvard, Chief Operating Officer and founder of YouHere Productions, an award winning video production firm based in Manhattan, noted that “Video is now an integral part of web design. If your business wants to attract sophisticated clientele you must have video on your landing page. The stats are astounding in that a person will spend a longer time on a page if there is video on it.”
Michelle Greenlee, an All Analytics contributor, noted how mobile has “changed web design by requiring developers to think beyond the browser. Smartphones adoption rates are on the rise but not all are able to serve up a decent, usable, version of every website…..Reviewing site analytics to determine devices currently accessing a site before committing to features for the mobile version is very helpful. You may be able to provide a better experience through a dedicated app than on a mobile browser. These were not concerns of web development even six years ago.”
William T. Cooper, CEO of ChristiaNet, has found success using the integration aspects Greenlee mentions. “We have 820,000 Facebook Fans with 70,000 daily interactions (Likes + Comments + Shares). Proof that proper web design and social media integration works.”
One end result of this transformation is designers widening their inspirational scope to solve business objectives in the context of website code. Carol Lawson, a 12 year web design veteran and owner of Studio150, a design studio in Brooklyn, noted on her blog that for web design “there is always inspiration right at your fingertips. If you’re stuck thinking about a design often you can find solutions and ideas that address that same problem within a few clicks. While looking at other websites can be inspiring, it’s important that designers seek out other non-web related sources as well.”
Despite the inspiration, businesses still struggle with appreciating the value in websites, and in many way consequentially web analytics. I have heard various statistics regarding whether small businesses in particular operate without a website. Google, while announcing a joint program with Intuit called Get Online, noted that its research revealed that an astonishing 69% of small businesses in North Carolina do not have a website
Natasha N. McEachron, another New York web designer, summed up the crucial need for businesses to develop their sites. “Internet users spend a lot of their time on social networks and with apps which put them in control of the content that they come into contact with. I think it would be expected that a company or brand would carry over understanding (or their openness to understanding) their customers on social networks / apps to the way in which they communicate and interact with customers on their website.”
With these aspects of web design evolving, web analytics practitioners must convey how analytics solutions and the subsequent analysis unlock value from websites. Not every business will be on board – businesses have traditionally had difficulty determining the value of a website. But to determine value, business must deploy analytics to match the dynamics from a customer’s website experience to the brand and business model an organization is seeking to establish profitably. To borrow the Pareto theory, explained by John Barnes’ post at All Analytics, web analytics can guide a business onto the right 20% that can lead to discovery of that precious 80% effect.