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As the new year begins, it’s time to add our voices to the chorus of round ups and forecasts. Just for fun, here are a few of our thoughts on the online trends that will be shaping our web design and marketing work work, as well as our personal lives, over the next year.
With Brexit officially happening on 29 March 2019 and the next US presidential election in 2020, we’ve got another whole year to enjoy the uncertainty. As we write, with January just a few all-too-short bank holidays away, there’s still no clear sign whether we’ll hard Brexit, soft Brexit, no-deal Brexit – or even Brexit at all. For all we know, it could be a Hexit and either Hampshire or Trump’s hair will make a break for freedom. From memes to scams, real news to fake, we predict that the news – and social media – in 2019 will largely be dominated by the same news as in 2018. If that’s even news.
As a team, we’re heavily engaged with social media, and it’s an important part of how we work and play so it’s no surprise that we’ve noticed the growing trend of ‘social media sabbaticals’ and ‘scroll free September’. While we don’t feel the need to ‘detox’ from the internet, it’s clear that binging on likes can be damaging to some. We expect to see lots more Instagram posts of beautiful sunsets #enjoythemoment and cups of coffee #switchoff and if there’s maybe a hint of #irony to posting about your social media detox online, well, that’s the world we live in.
You probably know someone whose kid – or parrot – has a serious Amazon habit thanks to Alexa and one-click ordering but you might not realise that these viral sensations are trend setters. As more companies catch up, offering their own versions of Siri and Alexa – or integrating with existing systems – we’re getting more comfortable with spending money by yelling at a little black box. The jury is still out on whether this is a real boon for consumers or vendors.
It seems likely that for pile-it-high merchants, such as Amazon, the increase in sales will cover any issues due to increasing returns when people realise their kid – or pet – placed an order, or simply don’t like the look of what actually arrives. However, this may cause problems for smaller businesses, as the biggest online systems get even more entrenched. Either way, web designers will have to catch up and learn to integrate disparate systems.
OK, this one’s a bit tongue-in-cheek, but it is clear that as these new technologies become ubiquitous, manners will change. It’s now entirely normal to snap a selfie or share a picture of your dinner on Instagram – and, in fact, many businesses encourage diners to share before they take a bite. Whether it’s good manners to do so (“helping a great local business find more customers”) or incredibly rude (“ignoring the people you’re with”) will depend, as manners always do, on context. In the office, we’ve been debating whether 2019 will be the year of voice activating shopping online while in another shop. Many Brits have already become accustomed to spotting something in a shop, pulling out our phones and ordering it online if it’s cheaper. With voice activated everything on the rise, will the last hint of furtiveness leave these transactions?
GDPR caused a lot of businesses to have a bit of a panic about how they use data (and can we just remind everyone that GDPR will not go away no matter how hard we Brexit) which meant, among other things, a slow down in personalization and ad targeting. As businesses and marketing teams adjust, we predict an uptick in personalization across the board, with companies using AI and learning algorithms to send more effective communications to their customers. Web design teams will be at the forefront of the trend giving logged-in users more of what they really want.
Tellies have been fighting back with on-demand services and smart TV features, but it looks like 2019 is the year that mobile beats TV. Surveys suggest that Brits have already switched allegiance, with more people declaring their mobile as their most important device than think their TV is number 1. Even in the USA, smartphone use looks set to beat TV viewing in 2019, showing that on both sides of the pond there’s a clear trend towards on-demand, on-the-go content.
Do you remember when no one was sure how YouTube would make money? We may be older than the dinosaurs, in internet years, but it seems pretty clear that messaging has yet to be fully exploited. We predict that 2019 will have a gold rush effect as companies of all sizes try to figure out how to most profitably engage with WhatsApp, Snapchat and other messaging services. This will be particularly key for telecoms companies as chat apps seem to be drawing users away from telephone calls as well as social media pages.