Are Websites Dead?

Julie Ask
Vice President, Principal Analyst
February 18, 2018

No. But they will increasingly fall short of consumers’ expectations for curated content, especially among brands that they know. And channels seldom if ever disappear; we still get mail from MetLife each month advertising insurance. We’ve been talking about the diminished role of the browser-based experience for years now.

We talk about this in our research. Websites are like a kitchen sink: they do all things for all people. For the most part, websites are little more than enterprises exposing their mainframe systems to its customers; they’re not in language customers understand and are not oriented to customer needs. They are blocks of functionality. For example, on an airline site, you have bookings, reservations, and loyalty programs — none of which ties directly to consumer needs.

Mobile has definitely been a catalyst for our thinking. We tell clients to build mobile apps for their most frequent customers and those who are shifted or inclined to use mobile. And we tell them to build mobile apps to serve the needs and motivations that customers have on the go.

It’s true that experiences need to be framed not just to meet the needs of consumers directly, but also in their natural language. We talk about taking the cognitive load off of consumers so they don’t need to translate their needs into a bunch of code or inputs to sequence into a web site. We have a mini case study on Macquarie Bank out of Sydney — the CDO there nailed this.

Yes, experiences will evolve. They will be smaller; more contextual; more push, less pull; in more natural language; and dynamically assembled. Conversations will be the most efficient way to get some things done — some, not all.

Forrester recommends a portfolio approach to your digital experiences. See this research.

Web technologies are the future. Browsers are not — they put too much cognitive load on the consumer. My colleague Michael Facemire writes about this aspect in his research.

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