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Jan 24, 2018 BY Rachel Clemens, former Mighty Citizen Research, Marketing

Digital Trends Prediction for 2018

What better time to make bold predictions for the year than mid-January? Maybe you’re pursuing a leaner waistline. Maybe you’ll finally learn Italian. Maybe you’ll get around to organizing the attic. (OK, those are my goals.)

But when it comes to web design, marketing, and communications, sharing our predictionsfor the new year is a bit of a tradition in these parts. So I’ve asked our seasoned pros to offer their predictions for the web design trends 2018 will bring.

Without further ado, let’s dive in.

Touting Touchless

Did you get an Amazon Echo or a Google Home for the holidays? I, for one, bought my entire extended family an Amazon Echo so we could easily stay connected (to each other and to the Internet).

After having the Echo in our home for that last three weeks, it’s clear what the future holds. My 7-year-old uses it every day. He can’t spell or type yet, but he can speak with—with, not to—a computer.

We predict that in five years, keyboards and touch interfaces will all but disappear and that voice interaction will be how we control our devices.

This change is already underway: Many of us don’t type our text messages anymore. We speak them. Speech is not only one of the biggest digital trends of 2018; it’s the next phase in the evolution of Internet technology.

There’s some refining to be done—just try to ask the Echo, “What’s that thing that they put on top of eggs benedict called?”—but voice control is coming.

Pursuing the Personal

Since the early days of the Internet, “personalization” has been one of web design’s holy grails.

  • First, we added first names to our marketing emails: “Hi Joe, would you like to donate to us?”
  • Then we began to segment our audiences based on all sorts of new data we’d gathered—age, gender, location, online behavior, etc.
  • Eventually, we were able to create websites that change based on who’s using them, ensuring we serve up the most compelling, relevant, persuasive content possible.

The pursuit of personalization is only going to grow now that even small organizations can collect reams of valuable user data. There is a growing field of software tools that can dive deep into the demographic and psychographic makeup of our audiences:

  • What do they like?
  • What do they actually like?
  • What do they do on the average Thursday night?
  • Where do they vacation?
  • What causes do they donate to?

No longer is extreme personalization available only to huge corporations with millions of marketing dollars to spend.

We predict that in 2018, personalized content will become the norm for most marketing-savvy organizations—big or small.

Chat bots. Account-based marketing. These tools (and more) will become ubiquitous by the end of this year. Smaller organizations can learn how to best employ these tools from the big corporations that’ve been experimenting with them for years.

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Accommodating All

We’ve written about how roughly 500 lawsuits were filed in 2017 against companies who have websites that are inaccessible by those with disabilities. Many organizations talk about user experience and access for all, but their websites don’t match the promise.

This may be a hope more than an actual web design trend, but as lawsuits continue to increase and become more public, organizations would be wise to make 2018 the year they get serious about making sure their websites are accessible. This starts with the backend code of a website and persists in ongoing content updates.

And keep in mind, not only is it good for business, it’s especially good for your customer experience.

Nixing Neutrality

The repeal of net neutrality is a threat to small brands and may fundamentally change the way online marketing works.

We predict that if net neutrality isn’t protected, small- and medium-sized organizations will find it nearly impossible to effectively advertise themselves online.

Currently, a small brand (with a small budget) already has a hard time competing with a big brand without having to deal with the unlevel playing field caused by the repeal of net neutrality.

An example: Your content loads ten times slower than a big-name competitor’s because the ISP favors their content over yours. Imagine a highway where driving to a small local hardware store takes ten times longer than driving to your equally-close Home Depot. Where are most people going to get their hammers?

Maneuvering the Midterms

Speaking of net neutrality, have you noticed how everything (even the Internet) has become a political hot potato? For some brands—i.e., the ones with strong political leanings—this is welcome news; their customers are highly engaged.

But for those brands that have donors, clients, and members on both sides of the aisle, our current political climate (about to be even more heightened as midterm elections approach) presents some unique challenges. Today’s Americans are inundated with political headlines, online and off. And because we’ve become so politically sensitive, even seemingly innocuous online content is misconstrued as political.

We predict that, as the left-right divide grows wider, brands must be intentional in whether (and how) they wade into political waters.

My suggestion: Determine now how your brand will navigate the political waters of 2018. Will you tow the bipartisan line or will you take a seat on either side of the aisle?

So, are you ready for 2018? Are you ready to speak clearly to those robots, pursue the personal and be accessible for all? Let’s dive head first!


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