9 website trends to watch in 2022
2021 was a turbulent year, when many brands sought to discover opportunities in an increasingly complex digital landscape of blockchain, metaverse and artificial intelligence. Our Digital Experience team share their thoughts and predictions on how these and other trends will start to shape our web experiences for 2022.
1. Designing out carbon - considering the carbon impact of website design
We often give little thought to the carbon impact of browsing online. In fact, the numbers are quite staggering. According to websitecarbon.com, the average website produces 1.76g of CO2 for every page view; so, a site with 100,000 page views per month emits 2,112kg of CO2 every year. It would take nearly 100 trees to absorb that amount of carbon each year. These figures are up over 500% in the last 10 years.
As conscientious brands and businesses become more aware of these alarming figures, we predict a rise in web design and functionality aimed at reducing this impact. Whether it is the ability to switch to low carbon usage mode, removal of unnecessary plugins or a general reduction in over design and functionality, these efforts all start with gaining a better understanding of the current impact of your site. In recent months we have seen more of this in our own work - helping Clients better integrate carbon data as part of their core analytical insights.
2. Inclusivity built-in – Bringing inclusivity and accessibility to the forefront
Improving and promoting diversity and inclusion within employment, corporate culture and communications has been a growing priority for many brands in recent years. However, within websites, the demonstration of this has not really extended beyond the careful selection of images and greater consideration of copy and language used.
With a better understanding of the importance of inclusivity online and movements such as Ethical Web Design championing websites for all, we predict an increase in brands looking to bring their design efforts around inclusivity to the forefront of sites. This could be through greater consideration around labelling of forms, or increased accessibility features… we may even see a welcome return to websites proudly displaying their WCAG accessibility rating.
3. Anti-social media – Considering our affiliation with social media brands
Despite its recent rebrand to Meta, it appears to have been a tough 12 months for Facebook and its portfolio of brands. Facebook has been central in the debate surrounding the role of social media in our lives, the impact on mental health and the way in which data is collected and used by tech companies, resulting in trust in the brand hitting an all-time low. According to MISSION’s brand bonding index just 8% of consumers “trust Facebook to do the right thing”.
While British cosmetic brand Lush made the bold decision to leave four of the major social platforms, we are not foreseeing a mass exodus from brands on social media or any similar trend. Instead, we predict that site designs will seek to give social brands less prominence, moving away from proudly displaying all major social platform’s logos to more subtle integration alternatives, allowing brands to still benefit from its usage, but with less affiliation. This trend will be particularly prevalent with brands targeted at a younger audience, where social media usage continues its slow decline.
4. Big changes in online retail - Bringing in-store experiences in-home
2021 was the year many consumers were forced to turn to online stores due to the closure of their bricks-and-mortar alternative. While the pandemic was the driving force behind much of this accelerated adoption, it does provide brands with an opportunity to reduce overheads and increase trading hours with a wider audience group.
If brands wish to benefit from more customers using both on and offline stores, they need to develop more ways to emulate the instore retail experience. We have seen some excellent use of augmented reality to facilitate virtual try-on, improved social commerce integration and use of 3D modelling for improved presentation of products in 2021 that is set to continue.
5. The cookie crumble – Preparing for the loss of third-party cookies
Despite the delay in Google removing the use of third-party cookies on its popular chrome browser to mid-2023, the demise of the much-used technology will soon be upon us. Regardless of the uncertainty in Google’s timings and how brands, publishers and other platforms will adapt in the absence of this unique identifier, one thing is for certain: first party data is crucial for brands to effectively target audiences after the cookie crumbles.
While many brands shifted focus some time ago, putting more emphasis on building closer relationships with their customers across all touchpoints, others have been slower to react. With websites becoming an increasingly vital, owned channel and touchpoint for brands to connect with customers, we foresee a rise in functionality around gated content, customer questionnaires, loyalty programmes, lead capture campaigns and similar data collection activity aimed at providing brands with a sufficient data foundation for 2023 and beyond.
6. Many ways to pay – Considering UX in supporting payment choice
From micro-payments and personalised pricing to accepting crypto currencies, the ways in which we transact are set to keep proliferating. Many of these changes have been fuelled by brands seeking to give their customers more choice and flexibility in payment, in a period of increasing cost of living concerns. However, much of this choice has been made available by a host of new BNPL payment structures, digital currencies and fintech companies developing technologies with increasing ease of integration with online stores.
Can the online checkout cope? We look forward to 2022 being a year of some much-needed checkout innovations, providing customers with increased payment choice, but with improved user experience.
7. Dark mode sees the light – Reducing the strain of excessive screen time
With face-to-face meetings and other social interactions being replaced by virtual calls for much of 2021, our ever-increasing screen time has given rise to concerns on the impact of eyestrain and other associated health conditions.
As many of us continue to adapt our home office to improve our health and wellbeing, a welcome trend we have started to see is the rise of sites looking to introduce more dark mode features and principles in their design. The ability to switch to a dark mode version of the site, or even the sparing use of colour, accents and other aesthetics is a welcome relief to our tired eyes. Long may it continue.
8. Battling the pop-up – Alternative tech to protect privacy
The use of data and the protection of privacy has been a big talking point in recent years, with brands very aware of the impact falling foul of the increased privacy regulation can have on audience trust.
9. From blank slate to a changing canvas – A more personal interaction with our devices
The Internet of Behaviours (IoB) was a big talking point in 2021, with many seeing less emphasis on devices themselves and more focus on the emotions at play when we are using the many devices we now have in our lives. This focus has led to a range of small-scale, easy to use interface personalisations - colour, information complexity, animation tempo - that reflect or encourage specific moods and mindsets, be it work, rest or play. Google’s recent design guidelines support this trend by taking a far more emotive and sophisticated approach to device personalisation called Material You.
We look forward to our emotions and moods having a bigger impact on the presentation and interactions we have with our devices. Making them fit more seamlessly around our lives rather than bending our lives around what our devices want.
For over 25 years Bray Leino has been helping our Clients navigate everchanging digital landscapes. We look forward to exploring these trends further as 2022 takes shape. For more information on these trends or how Bray Leino’s digital team can support your brand, contact Rhys Gwynne, Digital Lead.