FUTURISTIC: What if there were no websites as we know them today? (2018)

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“They will never go away, Christoph. The internet is not a fad.” Of course, that’s true. The internet isn’t going anywhere and with the Internet of Things and virtual reality (and related technologies) we are certainly in for a ride of some kind of changes.

Related: Check out my virtual reality stories

Sandra Fancher, chief strategy officer at MedTouch and a mentor of mine, put this bug into my ear a few years ago. Sandra’s ideas and strategies are often thought leaderish and end up happening in one way or another down the road. So I wouldn’t doubt if she’s onto something here.

So, thinking about this some more …

Companies create experiences for their users and their customer journeys. Today, the website is often the centerpiece. In fact, I frequently recommend that to clients: The website is your home base. You own that and build your house on land you own versus places you are renting. Like social media reach is a rented place. I use that rented place argument especially with people who push for social media-only strategies. And I love social media!

How will digital experiences change?

I don’t know exactly but Sandra got me thinking. Will websites completely go away? Unlikely. But I wouldn’t doubt it if they are replaced by highly optimized AND personalized experiences.

We already see some early examples of this today when:

  • People get served different ads based on their interests
  • People get served different experiences based on their location.

For example, my blog is somewhat popular in India based on the number visitors from there. I previously served different content to visitors from India than I was serving to visitors in the United States.

Even I could run some simple personalization campaigns. So imagine what the actual experts could do.

This will certainly expand and change over time. Remember when people claimed that adding somebody’s actual first name in a newsletter was considered personalization? Yes, today, that’s basic stuff when relevant. Email personalization goes much deeper today already.

RELATED: The future of A/B testing (in my opinion)

So in the future, I can see a world where I’m served stuff that I care about. Of course, since many on the web are chasing the money, they’ll want me to convert or buy but as long as it’s highly relevant, I might not even care.

Check out my book on how to put the customer first

Good personalization can also help companies who make their audiences their product. Publishing and social media come to mind. Why do you think social media is free to the user? We are their product and they then sell access to us.

So certainly the way customer journeys and content consumption happens online will change and could end up being a lot more disconnected. Of course, that creates a problem because it’s much easier to an extent to build one website and then drive all your traffic and all your conversions there as opposed to sending it to different disconnected pieces. Those pieces of course could be something on the web, something in an app and then highly personalized pieces of content on whatever the platform is at that time.

While things will continue to change the thing that won’t change is the need for strategic thinkers and implementers. Those are the people who can help us implement the best strategies to connect with our audiences and customers. So whether that’s through one central website or 18 different connected pieces is irrelevant. What’s relevant is that companies continue to evolve and employees and staff members continue to move their skills to the new ways of achieving results.

On a sidenote, I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit when it comes to my children. What are the skills that they have to learn to be successful as they’re growing up. What are the skills that are transferable? For example, the skills of storytelling and audience growth and creating user experiences are skills that will likely always be relevant and can be applied to new channels and new ways of connecting.

Of course, this is also something to think about for companies who offer services related to current strategies. So if one offering is to build a website, I would recommend to not get rid of that service but it might be worthwhile to think about how to rebrand it. So if the offering actually is to connect companies to customers that could include the building of websites, social media integration, email marketing and a host of other things-some of which haven’t been invented yet.

RELATED: Launching a website is just the starting point

As Sandra summarizes it:

“Content will always be important, it will just be the consumption that changes. We no longer need to make sure we are home a certain night each week to watch a tv show, instead we consume that show in a means that fits our lives. More voice and interactive content will allow our children to multi-task and ‘read’.”