Revamping a website completely is usually an intensive project. However, given shifting tastes, evolving user behavior and the rapidly changing technology landscape, companies have little choice but to continually optimize their websites and reevaluate their user experience to stay up to date with best practices.
Simply put, you should never consider your website a finished product. Think of it almost as a living, breathing, and ever-evolving entity. It needs to be constantly re-examined to keep up with trends in technology, design elements and your industry in order to drive sales and maximize revenue.
This is especially true for the visually-driven travel industry where, for example, hotel properties undergo regular redesigns to stay attractive and current. Because a hotel website is a snapshot of the overall business and the first impression potential guests have of the property, they continually evolve their designs visually, without considering tech delivery platforms. The same is true with online travel agencies or also cruise lines, which emphasize the latest ship, itinerary hot spot or onboard attraction.
Optimized websites, therefore, are crucial for the schizophrenic needs of the travel industry as it appeals to users (especially millennials) who expect information and purchase options easily and instantly.
Here are some of the hottest trends in optimization, UX, and personalization that you should pay attention to in 2018:
Mobile first but keep smart TV in mind
Experts have emphasized optimization for mobile for years in anticipation of the milestone that occurred in November 2016 when Web access from mobile devices surpassed access from traditional desktops and laptops. However, there was another web milestone in 2016. More than half of all homes in the United States now have Internet access through televisions, which are undoubtedly larger than a typical computer screen. To make access easier for cellphone or tablet users, mobile versions of sites should eliminate pages rarely accessed from mobile devices and provide a link to the full site. Additionally, it is necessary to consider designs for larger screens. Keep in mind that scrolling and initial visibility varies greatly by screen size. That means what people see above the fold and how liquid the design is becomes even more important.
Capitalizing on analytics to optimize 'micro-moments'
UX design is no longer about a site that looks great and contains pertinent information. The web team needs to take advantage of tools that interpret consumer behavior to fine-tune site navigation and performance, even around the smallest design element. It is the "micro-moments" that keep a visitor engaged and guide them to a purchase. Southwest Airlines revamped its website in 2014 to eliminate clutter and make it easier for users to search or check-in for flights. Now, nearly every airline website uses a similar approach. While it might be tempting to play follow the leader when updating your site, use caution and your own user data to see what works for your current customers as well as those you want to attract going forward.
Image-focused or task-oriented design
In recent years, there has been a change in how websites use images, particularly a large background image. While a high-quality picture is engaging and illustrates what a hotel, destination or company has to offer, eye-tracking studies show that large images can backfire. Images need to add something visually interesting, which usually means avoiding the use of trite stock images. Most importantly, they should not get in the way of user interaction with the site.
Using voice-user interfaces
While hands-on access to a website via smartphones, tablets, computers and TVs will dominate usage in the near future, redesigns need to optimize the use of smart home assistants, also known as voice user interfaces (VUIs). VUIs will undoubtedly have growing importance going forward, particularly when visual attention or use of hands is compromised. People already ask VUIs to look up information and order food and other products. Plane tickets, cruise bookings and other voice-guided tasks are not far behind. This should be considered in future site designs.
While embracing these and other emerging trends will help create a more modern site, remember that true optimization requires user data and testing, not just blindly following trends. That's where engaging a company like Multiplica can make a huge difference.
Multiplica specializes in combining analytics, user experience design and site optimization in one. We know that the ultimate goals of your website are to grow your business and maximize your digital presence.
If you're interested in learning more about how Multiplica can help your company optimize its website and user experiences, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.