Fortunately, I get to work with our customers of all sizes, with various budgets, and verticals helping them set strategy in the digital space. Core to digital transformation is the management of content, and of course a good CMS like Sitefinity is vital to that, but there are additional tools, patterns, and technologies I see emerge every year.
As our VP of Architecture and a lead for our Digital team I'm excited to share digital trends for 2018 that I've been tracking. I'm looking forward to watching these trends develop and working with our customers to enable their sites with some of this new technology.
As voice assistants are becoming more common in people’s homes, website users are becoming more comfortable interacting with chatbots.
Traditionally chatbots have been pretty terrible. You ask a question and it either doesn’t understand your question or it doesn’t have the knowledge regarding your question and immediately the user is frustrated. However, chatbot technology has been improving rapidly (along with voice assistants) and I am seeing a real push by enterprises to build and centralize knowledge systems driven by a clear ROI when implemented well (improving new employee onboarding, operating efficiency, less likelihood of mistakes if knowledge/processes aren’t documented organizationally).
Further chatbots can now perform smart transactions for users. Rather than login to your bank website, click on your account, click on transfer, click on the account you want to transfer money from and to, and click on transfer, simply login to your bank website, ask the chatbot to transfer $1,000 to your savings, it’ll ask ‘from checking’, you confirm ‘yes’, and done.
Web content management systems have been seen as large platforms with a barrier of entry that sometimes can be too high to see a ROI. In 2018 I’m seeing a rise in lightweight headless CMSs. A headless CMS is technically a CMS that allows the creation, reading, updating, and deleting (CRUD) of content but lacks a built-in way to present the content being stored and created within it. A lack of a front-end tool to deliver content (no drag-and-drop page or template builder within the CMS) might seem like a major drawback, but with modern web frameworks and a frontend developer that works within your marketing department, you can streamline the time to spin up a website. Further that content can be used to deliver experiences beyond your website, within apps, kiosks, VR, etc. The more structured content in a management system, headless or not, is huge for delivering a good digital experience. I’m excited to see more lightweight options in the CMS market like https://graphcms.com/, https://buttercms.com/, and https://www.contentstack.com/. Of course Sitefinity CMS can be implemented as a headless CMS too.
Incorporating Accessibility into Site Development
Unfortunately, web technology and design moves at a rapid pace and ADA (Section 508) compliance is often an afterthought. In 2018 I’m seeing more enterprises taking compliance more seriously and making their online presence more accessible. I’m passionate about everyone receiving the best digital experience they can. I think it really shows that a company cares.
There are a number of automated tools like https://wave.webaim.org/ and https://www.powermapper.com/products/sortsite/checks/accessibility-checks/ that’ll get you started on seeing if your site is compliant.