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The Challenge of Understanding Digital Customer Behavior
You might think that Fortune 500 companies are so successful that they can easily handle any challenge. In fact, large enterprises face numerous problems and issues that can significantly undermine their businesses.
In the face of constant tough competition, even these companies must constantly work to retain market share and win new markets.
One place where enterprises face various difficulties is website development. This is an essential part of any business, greatly influencing company’s sales, profits, and overall reputation. In this article, we will describe website development practices that are relevant for 2017, and are highly popular among Fortune 500 companies.
The Fortune 500 is 500 of the largest US corporations based on revenue. Published annually by Fortune magazine, the list includes both public and privately held companies with revenues figures that are openly published.
Ambitious companies may set a goal to reach the Fortune 500. However, it is becoming increasingly difficult to achieve that milestone due to constantly changing conditions and increased competition. Knowledge of current web development practices provides an opportunity to meet modern market requirements and make it onto the Fortune 500 list.
User Experience Revolutionizes Web Development
User experience (UX) has become a key factor influencing the way enterprises conduct business. Forrester research shows that a great user experience significantly impacts revenue: On average, every dollar invested in UX brings $100, an ROI of 9,900%.
There is a huge gap between enterprises that prioritize UX strategies and those that don’t. Let’s consider, for example, how Facebook, #157 in the Fortune list, in 2008 merged Myspace, which used to be the largest social networking site in the world in 2006.
One of the reasons why Myspace lost to Facebook was poor user experience.
At the moment of the company’s collapse, a Myspace employee wrote a post about the company’s situation on reddit.com. That post drew much attention and many people started to discuss the causes of Myspace’s failure.
The former Myspace user wrote: “I personally find Myspace unusable (moderate older computer) and it got even worse after the redesign of the user interface. A site I can hardly use to listen to a song with load times incredible slow and cpu usage 100% is just not usable for me.”
There were a lot of comments about both poor user interface and user experience. Users were dissatisfied with poor interface design, slow loading time, and the absence of logical structure of web pages. These were considered as the main reasons of Myspace’s failure.
Facebook, with its user-friendly interface, took over Myspace. Thus, user experience is at the core of website optimization.
Today,, many IT industry experts understand the importance of a quality user experience. That’s why there are many UX-related magazines and blogs that teach designers how to make the best websites. For example, a Mashable publishing partner offers instructions, analyses, and expert opinions on user experience.
Below we discuss some of the best web development practices that can help enterprises enhance user experience.
Minimalistic Design: Less is More
The concept of minimalism is becoming more and more popular in designing the user interfaces of business websites. This trend is followed by many of 500 Fortune companies. As Antoine de Saint-Exupéry once said, “perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”
The fact that minimalistic design influences people’s attention is based on psychology. According to Gestalt visual perception laws, minimalism reduces viewer confusion and makes website interaction more effective.
Apple, #3 in the Fortune 500, has long praised minimalist design. Steve Job’s love of simplicity led to Apple’s design revolution. Apple's website has earned a good reputation due to its attractive brand identity and beautiful layouts. Alexa ranks this website as #34 in popularity in the US.
This website’s design is minimalistic, with large areas of white space, and focus kept on a main product image. For example, at the time of writing, Apple featured a large image of Apple's Watch series 2.
The focus on main product features and elements makes a website design easier for a user to digest. An effective page should not be overloaded with strong colors, wordy content and intrusive advertising.
Cards and Grid Layouts Help Structure Information
Another frequently used web development trend is card design. This helps organize information in neat boxes that create a simple, minimalistic look.
The official website of Toyota, #8 at Fortune 500, reflects this idea. One of the main features of the website is micro-interactions, which provide control, guidance or rewards. They also make the user experience entertaining.
This site structure of the site can be used to simplify the perception of information. It is a creative and practical solution for a website on which contains many sections and pages.
Interactivity Means Involvement
Many Fortune 500 companies use striking interaction elements on their websites that are hard not to ignore. This approach to web design is closely connected with the development of such technologies as virtual reality and augmented reality. They expand our perception of how the technology can be adapted for everyday usage.
The leader in this field is Google with its Daydream VR headset. Many other brands also adapt this technology.
With the advent of gadgets and the development of augmented reality technologies, marketing companies have undergone major changes. Websites can now present new products with the help of additional gadgets such as VR headsets. Another new technique is the use of 360º video, which does not require special hardware, and also changes the web development space significantly.
Peugeot, #121 on the Fortune list, conducted a promo campaign by creating a special website promoting the Peugeot 208. This website is an excellent example of new wave of web development and marketing.
At the website you can experience a virtual car ride near a coastline and try to catch a flying dragon with your mouse.
It is a popular practice to develop a separate website to support a new product as a part of a marketing campaign.
The site is not accessible now, but here is a promo video of this campaign: Catch the Dragon.
Websites with interactive elements amaze viewers with their beauty and creativity. They attract visitors and allow them to interact with different elements, which has a great influence on the perception of the brand and the company’s image
Background Videos and Animations Increase Audience Attention
For example, the main HP website page (#20 on the Fortune list) contains video which presenting the HP Sprocket Photo Printer. This video with vivid colors and dynamic pictures shows product advantages.
Mobile Friendly Websites Are a New Way of Building Brand Awareness
According to the data from comScore, “Overall, digital media time spent with mobile is now a whopping 68 percent. The desktop commands just 32 percent of our digital attention”.
In the very near future, smartphones are likely to increase their digital share above the 50% mark. Desktops and tablets will still play a critical role in digital market, but for businesses, it will be important to understand the influence that smartphones have and will continue to have.
Despite this trend, some Fortune 500 website do not represent best web development practices, and are not on the leading edge of mobile adoption. Merkle RKG, a performance marketing agency, noted that about 50% of Fortune 500 company websites don't meet Google’s mobile standards, which will negatively impact their organic search result ranks. Enterprises need to optimize their sites for smartphones both to suit modern uses of the web and to ensure that they rank highly in searches.
The best web development practices of Fortune 500 companies are oriented around a customer-based user experience. Companies such as Apple, HP, Peugeot and others have websites that are logically structured and well-designed in terms of technical details and user interface.
Minimalistic design is a current trend, and experts have shown a correlation between better perception and minimalism in design. The main focus of a minimalist website should be on the product, and the site should not be overloaded with too many colors and advertising.
Card and grid layouts are widespread among the Fortune 500, being used by Toyota, Sony, and many other companies. This design helps organize the information into clear units.
Background videos and interactive elements can help focus visitors’ attention on the product. HP and Peugeot use interactive elements in their websites.
Adoption for Mobile is an important trend, but many Fortune 500 enterprises haven’t yet made their websites suitable for mobile users. Since Google plans to focus on mobile-friendly sites, these companies will need to make changes soon to remain competitive.