How to Make the Web Better

The Shift is a monthly writing project designed to help produce and consume unique perspectives on topics relevant to the web industry, this month’s topic is How to Make the Web Better and I decided to contribute by offering some of my thoughts and opinions on this topic.

How to make the web better? Yikes. That’s a tough question because at first thought, how can it be any better? User experience on the web has improved drastically over that last couple of years. design is no longer an afterthought, responsive is now an assumed requirement, and most websites have relevant and informative content that isn’t entirely just about products and services the company X offers. We’ve made huge strides!

So after doing a bit more thinking about this topic and continuing to ask myself “How can I improve the web today?” One thing kept popping up time and time again. It’s a simple thing and something that most of us do naturally, but somehow it gets lost on the web. I feel like most websites today are lacking a personal connection to their users or “guests”. I think the web can become better if we focus on doing a better job creating personable and meaningful experiences.

I often think “How cool would it be if I could serve dynamic content on my own site based on what each individual guest coming to my site wants to see? How much more engaged could they be and how would that drive conversion?” As a bonus, how much fun would that be to try and build it?” Yes, it would make creating websites a much more labor intensive process and would be quite the challenge to get to know each of the different users, but at the end of the day, it would be worth the extra effort if those guests feel a genuine connection to me that is beyond “this is what I do and how I do it, please contact me today to start your project”. Although this feels daunting today, but I remember a time when building a fully responsive website felt unimaginable and required a great deal of extra work that felt in a lot of ways, unnecessary at the time.

So how could we start to create this increased connection with guests coming to our websites?

  • Based on their IP, we should be able to determine what time of day it is for them and say Good Morning, Good Afternoon, or Good Evening when they arrive. It’s a small touch, but I’ve seen this actually on a couple of websites, and it gave me the warm and fuzzies. I’ve been wanting to add this to my website along with adding a little note for my guests that relates to that time of day. You could take this even further by tapping into weather data and then wishing your visitors a safe drive home in the snow that day. It’s a tiny moment that I’m sure will make guests feel like they aren’t just on any “typical” website. If you combine that information with good branding and copy, it could become memorable.
  • I wonder what would happen if instead of serving up a website that we think would translate well for an entire audience and then spending a crap ton of time and money on A/B testing, we just asked the individual guest “What can we help you with today?” We could then provide them a selection of services or options to choose from and then dynamically serve them a website that is made up of information that pertains to them.
  • Going off of the last bullet, what if the guests could fill in a few input fields and dynamically serve themselves up a website based off of that information? Imagine how awesome this would be on a Pediatrician’s website? I land on their website, I input basic (non-HIPPA violating) info like my child’s age, if he or she’s healthy or sick that day, and our preferred doctor from a list of on-staff doctors. After submitting the information, I’m then presented a website with “Dr. Bob” informing me of some current and upcoming milestones based on my baby’s age, providing informational and educational articles that could be of interest to me, asking if I’d like to schedule an appointment if he or she is sick, and so on.

These are just a few ideas on how to make the web better by creating a more personable connection to our guests and visitors. This suggestion falls outside of the typical topics like; accessibility, performance, design, responsive, and other technical ways that could make the web better, but I think it would help push creatives and developers to explore different solutions that create better, more memorable and stronger experiences for each guest visiting our websites.