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Marketing / application hybrid websites: a new era of web design

Websites have evolved significantly since the creation of the World Wide Web (WWW) in 1990. In less than 30 years, we’ve moved from simple static websites with no formatting to dynamic and interactive websites with beautiful design elements. In the beginning, online users were mainly academics and technical users, but as the user base grew it changed the demands of the types of websites and the content.

Websites have since transformed beyond brochure websites and have become an integrated part of your business. Websites are now a hybrid between your typical marketing website and a business software application.

A (very brief) history of web development

To fully understand the changes in the past 30 years, let’s take a very quick look at the history of web development.

  • HTML (HyperText Markup Language) – In 1989 and 1990 Tim Berners Lee developed the first programming language, HTML. HTML became an essential part of the web and still remains at the centre of web development. HTML consists of simple tags that were developed for text layout making it difficult to control the formatting and how content was displayed on a page.
  • CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) – In 1996, Hakon Wium Lie released CSS another fundamental piece of web development. CSS offers web developers a new way to organize and display content. Developers can now take advantage of layouts, different fonts, and colours.
  • Dynamic Content – Dynamic content customizes the content users see when they’re online based on their behaviour and interests, which allows for personable and interactive web experience. Examples include search engines and social media platforms. It’s difficult to pin down the precise timeline of dynamic content, but it’s thought to be connected to the release of JavaScript in 1995.
  • CMS (Content Management Systems) – Skipping ahead to the early 2000s we saw the release of the open-source CMSs (think Drupal, WordPress, and Joomla). They have come a long way in the past 15+ years, but the concept remains the same. Make it easy for website owners to manage their web content.
  • Integration – Integration connects multiple technologies under one roof working together via APIs (application program interface). APIs allow you to to do things like adding a Twitter feed to your website, accept online payments through Stripe, or connect your sales form to your CRM. Web APIs were released in 2000, but the concept of an API was around long before the creation of the internet.
  • Automation –We’re now in the midst of web automation where your website should be much more than an information hub, it should be actively contributing to the bottom line and held to the same performance expectations as an actual employee. We see automation online with chatbots that mimic human behaviour and more recently Google’s Smart Compose. The goal of automation is to optimize human resources, saving time and money for you and your team to work on what really matters.

Your website is an employee

For years we’ve heard that your website is your most important marketing tool, but it should be more than that.

Tools like integration and automation are at the forefront of web development. By taking advantage of these tools your website becomes an integrated part of your business processes and should be held to the same standards as an employee.

Web development has come a long way in the past 30 years. The software options are endless, which means the costs are significantly cheaper. You’re likely using a couple of software products already, but do they seamlessly fit into your business process or are you bending your process to the software’s will?

The mass-marketed software available today is created for one size fits all and aren’t optimized for your specific business needs. Custom software is no longer out of reach for your business. You now have the ability to create software that understands the ins and outs of your business processes. Digitizing your business processes will increase efficiency and add value to your operations.

Integrating these custom solutions to your website with APIs will significantly improve your customer service and increase the value of your website. It’s a win-win for you and your customers.

Tracking and Performance

In order to determine if your website is successful, you need to first define what success means to you. Before you start a new web project, sit down and think about the goals of the project. We suggest developing goals that are SMART – specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely. Laying your goals out in this format will create structure and guidance for your project and ultimately help you achieve them.

A SMART goal for an eCommerce website may look like this: Increase online sales in 2019 by 10%.

It’s also important to keep in mind that in order to reach these goals regular maintenance and adjustments will need to be made.

There is a slew of online tools available to help you track the performance of your website and help us indicate where adjustments need to be made.

Conclusion

The advancements in technology have provided us with loads of tools that can significantly improve the way we understand business and our online presence. Tools like messaging platforms have allowed customer service teams to help multiple people at once, compared to one-on-one telephone service. Simple tools like this will make significant changes to your business, both online and off.

If you’re not sure where to start, let’s spark up a conversation.

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