Websites that feel fresh and even innovative in design are always in demand. And while it’s probably unnecessary to bring every new trend to your WordPress site, keeping up to date on new themes, plugins, and technical strategies is only going to benefit how your customers engage today and down the line. To help keep your site’s options current and open, we’ve compiled a list of some of the strongest emerging features and design trends in the WordPress community.
Virtual assistants, chatbots, and on-site AI
Customer support and a personalized visiting experience have been fundamental to quality web design for a long time, but never at such an automated level. The technology of automation in web development has vastly improved even since 2014. The stereotype of chatbots bombarding your screen and with unhelpful information in disorganized ways is being challenged by companies like Spotify and Lyft, supporting their brands with such self-help tools tailored to customer design and information preferences.
- Chatbots: More than ever, web developers are using chatbots to deliver quality customer service. These aren’t the most advanced forms of customer-facing automation, typically limited to FAQ-like question and answer sessions and unable to process language at an organic level. But in 2019, they’re highly efficient tools for acquiring both product and client information. They enhance customer services by clarifying queries and narrowing down what a particular visitor to your site is looking for. The Facebook Messenger Chatbot and the IBM Watson Assistant are popular choices for businesses across the WordPress spectrum.
- Virtual Assistants: These agents are software-based organizers that help you keep up with your daily routines and upcoming appointments. They’re specialized to help with a slew of tasks, including formatting documents, setting your morning alarm, proofreading, buying plane tickets, and organizing your calendar. The cleverly-named Virtual Assistant Assistant has a thorough list of current VA options available to businesses of all sizes and for a variety of short and long-term options.
- On-site AI: A catch-all term for anything on your site that’s powered by artificial intelligence, often including chatbots and virtual assistants, on-site AI can also apply to useful plugins that aren’t strictly organizational or customer-facing. For instance, the WordPress plugin Watsonfinds helps you determine what content should be on your site by connecting it with the sentiment analysis of IBM’s Watson. Whether your content is evoking the range of emotions you want from your audience, like joy, disgust, or fear, Watsonfinds delivers a popup of where the content ranks in each emotional category based on textual averages like diction, phrasing, and general topic association over time.
Sticky elements over pop-ups
While well-intentioned popups for ads and services are still heavily used on the web, it’s much less intrusive for your site visitors to navigate WordPress sticky elements. One study in particular found that 100% of visitors preferred using sticky elements, while another site saw a 3% conversion boost just from switching to them.
To help get started with incorporating sticky elements in your WordpRess site, there are some useful plugins and guides:
- myStickymenu let’s you start building both fixed and sticky navigation tools, including headers, scrollbars, and more across a variety of new and established templates.
- The aptly-named Sticky Menu (or Anything!) helps you make anything sticky on your site as soon as it gets to the top of the page. While a little HTML or CSS might be required for more advanced navigation plans, this plugin lets you do it!
Use video headers
Since mobile technology and social media have normalized short videos and moving images on the web, it’s becoming more normal to loop a video header on your website. Deployed well, an initial video loop can make your site seem more personalized and specific to the type of services you provide.
Tips for creating a great video header:
- Keep the audio on mute! A customer might want to hear what’s in the video, but let them make that choice for themselves.
- Keep contrast between the video page and its text for better readability and a sense of cohesion.
- Make sure your video’s file type is compatible with the most used browsers, like Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer, and their recent versions. WEBM and MP4s are usually very safe bets.
- Don’t make your video’s file size too big! One of the cool things about header videos is that their overall file quality matters a little less than normal because they scale more naturally than images.
- Tell the right short story. This might be the first longer communication to your audience about your site’s brand, so make it count! The story content should be a depictive version your business’s or service’s mission at its best.
- WordPress’s core website has a great guide for getting more into the nuts and bolts of creating a header video.