Marketing and tech leaders are becoming one and the same. CTOs and CMOs are both working toward improving websites and finding what new technologies can boost traffic and grow the bottom line. But with so much noise, how are you expected to know which technologies and platforms deserve your attention?
With technology growing and changing at an exponential rate, it’s important for leaders within businesses to stay on top of the latest and greatest and to keep their company moving forward, especially in this day and age when companies are becoming more and more integrated.
At XWP, we pride ourselves on being at the cutting edge of technology. Not just being there, but helping create it. Our experts compiled the most impactful innovations from 2020 and created a list of what CMOs and CTOs are focusing on in 2021.
We’ve said before that site performance is about so much more than just speed, but in 2021, how fast your site runs is going to get a lot more important. In May, Google will begin taking Core Web Vitals into account when it comes to search ranking. That means site speed and performance won’t just make a difference in how users interact with your site, but whether or not they interact with it at all.
Your team should care about performance for a number of reasons, like search ranking and user experience, but your new, lightning-fast site will perform better for not just you, but for your business.
SEO is often front of mind for content creators. It should be for developers, too. How you build your site (or how an agency builds your site) is just as important as your on-page and content optimizations. These backend optimizations help search engines like Google find and catalog your site, and set them up for success on page one (hopefully). What kinds of things should you be paying more attention to?
- Sitemaps and News Sitemaps if appropriate
- Semantic markup and structured data
- URL structures
- Duplicate content
- Canonical tags
- 404s and 301 redirects
- And tons more
This year, pay attention to the optimization that’s happening behind the scenes, not just about the words on the page.
AMP is a unique user-experience performance framework. Its set of web components and best practices gives developers the ability to build streamlined, performant mobile sites that deliver content quickly and efficiently. In 2020, the AMP for WordPress plugin made some huge advancements in onboarding, performance, and interface, making it easier for developers to integrate AMP with their WordPress site.
As mentioned previously, Google will begin taking page speed and performance (in the form of Core Web Vitals) into account when determining page ranking. While there are tons of ways to achieve a high-performing website, many of them are technically difficult for the average user to achieve.
AMP, on the other hand, allows non-technical users the ability to create performant, user-centric websites with ease. This will help all websites remain on a level playing field performance-wise when vying for the top spot on page one of the search engines.
User Experience (UX)
UX is like performance. It surrounds almost every aspect of your website. The age of consumer-driven marketing is here to stay, and improving the journey that users have on your site should be your highest priority, from performance and page speed to design and beyond. Something seemingly minor, like the order of your main navigation, could drastically impact how a user interacts with your site. Small UX changes can have huge impacts. Just take a look at our work with Pantheon, where a simple change to their main navigation led to a 12% increase in business.
But optimizing for UX is about more than just changing around a few images or words. It takes a UX expert to analyze and interpret user behavior, generate and analyze data and ultimately find the true underlying issues. They will propose actionable solutions that move the needle in a positive direction. 2021 is the year your company finds a UX expert to help lift your site to new heights.
Progressive Web Applications (PWAs)
Progressive Web Applications have been described as the future of web development, and for good reason. They help improve readership on publisher sites, increase engagement for social media sites, and save businesses money by forgoing the need for a native app. PWAs are just regular websites that took all the right vitamins, so you’re not locked out of this great technology just because of your industry. Any site can use components from PWAs to improve performance and interact with its customers.
How? They can send users push notifications, users can interact with them offline, and they can completely mirror the experience of a native app. Compared to investing in your own mobile application, PWA’s are easier for your team and agency partners to develop and monitor thanks to maintaining only one codebase.
PWAs are clearly the next big thing in development, and your business should be on the frontlines.
What is a web story? Is it a blog? A video? Carousel? Or a little bit of all three? A web story is a mixed-media experience that’s exploding across the web. Chances are you’ve already seen some version of stories on Instagram, Twitter, or Snapchat, but web stories are a new take on this familiar style. From recipes to art history and cowgirl spotlights, there are a myriad of ways creators are using stories to share micro content.
Why should you be paying attention? One word: traffic. Users are yearning for a new way to consume content, and stories are a perfect way to do that. They’re proven to boost engagement and drive traffic, meaning you get more out of the investment you’re making in content creation.
But how do you create them? How do you display them on your site? These are all questions an expert agency can help you answer.
While there will always be new technologies for CTOs and CMOs to pay attention to, it’s important to keep your ear to the ground for the heavy hitters, the innovations that will have the biggest effect on your bottom line throughout the year.
The innovations from our list are just the tip of the technical iceberg. As technology continues to grow exponentially, it will get more and more difficult to keep track of it all. The best solution? Find an agency partner to stay on top of it with you.