The end of the year is often a time of looking back and reflecting. But with digital moving so fast that technology and trends from two years ago often feel quaintly out-of-date, we’re wishing 2018 the best and looking forward at what 2019 has in store.
Here are three digital trends we’re keeping our eyes on in the year to come — and what we think your nonprofit, foundation or social venture should watch out for too.
Every organization has a website (if you don’t, we should talk). For most organizations, it’s the single most important tool with which potential and current donors, investors, prospective employees, the media, and other stakeholders interact with or learn about you.
You can’t afford a website that lets you down.
Don’t use template-based web design.
Template-based design—which, to be fair, was all the rage for a long time—is everything that modular design isn’t. It’s rigid and limited. Say you want to add a new feature to your site: a map showing your impact around the world.
With a templated site, even if you can manage to figure out how to add it within the confines of your template, chances are very good that it won’t look the way you want it to. The options just aren’t there, and if you want to add them, it’ll cost you time and money.
Do use modular design.
When you move from a templated website to one comprised of content modules, it’s like moving from puzzle pieces (pieces that fit together in one—and only one—configuration) to Lego blocks (independent pieces that fit together in any number of ways).
With modular website design, the possibilities are endless. It’s flexible and scalable, allowing you to add, remove or change content to your site without compromising its appearance or having to call (and pay) a designer or developer to help out.
That map you want to add? Easy. And if you’ve got the graphic ready to go, you can even do it yourself, in-house.
SEO & Content
Google likes to keep the SEO people of the world on their toes. Just when we’ve gotten used to one algorithm, it changes, and all the rules go out the window.
Today, it seems none of the original rules of SEO apply (#justsaynotokeywordstuffing). The future of SEO is in semantics, which means Google is learning how to identify the intent of the search, including context and meaning. Search engines, as always, are getting smarter.
Do your research.
Semantic keyword research, that is. Find the right keywords for your organization based on user intent, then create content around those terms.
The benefits of doing so are many: higher click-through rate, higher relevance, more conversions, and lower minimum bids on your PPC campaigns. Yes, it’s less expensive and more effective.
Don’t keyword stuff. Ever since the Panda update in 2011, Google has gotten very efficient at spotting and—yes—penalizing web pages that were written more for the search engine than for actual human readers.
Semantic SEO means writing for your user, not for Google bots. If you include, say, “girls education in the developing world” in your copy an obtrusive number of times, it won’t help your case with Google.
The rule is: Write for humans, always.
Do develop and post high-quality cornerstone content
And optimize around topic clusters rather than keywords. The other content you develop on an ongoing basis can then point to that key content as appropriate, and thereby improve its ranking.
“There’s an app for that.” Remember those words? Back when those commercials were airing, apps were still relatively novel.
Today, apps have evolved. There’s still an app for, well, everything, but these days they don’t necessarily need to be downloaded via an app store. What does that mean for you?
Do invest in a progressive web app (PWA)
PWA’s make sense for simpler, more focused functions that don’t necessarily warrant a labor-intensive native app that needs to be downloaded to users’ devices.
Perhaps you want, say, fundraising or sales to have something more substantial than a regular page on your website, but don’t want to ask your audiences to take time to visit the app store, or use up space on their device. That’s what’s great about PWAs. They load full-screen like an app, without being a traditional app.
And, perhaps most importantly, they improve site speed, which helps improve your Google ranking and your conversion rate. According to Google, 53% of mobile site visits are abandoned if it takes longer than three seconds for them to load. PWAs cost less than native apps, leaving you more budget to invest in other tools and fundraising initiatives. But they still give you one of the most attractive benefits of a native app: the ability to push content to users.
Don’t alienate your audiences.
With this new way of pushing content, the same rules apply: first and foremost, don’t spam your stakeholders just because you can. Choose quality over quantity, and make sure each piece of content is one that adds value, even if it’s just a little boost in the form of a feel-good story about your organization and its impact. It’s a lot harder to win a new donor/supporter/investor/customer than to keep a loyal one, so make sure you continue to earn their trust.
If you want to discuss how to put these digital solutions, and others, to work for your organization, we’re always here to chat. But don’t wait too long. When digital moves this fast, it’s easy to fall behind. Specialist agencies like Briteweb can help make sure your digital strategy continues to support your organizational goals through 2019 and beyond—whatever beyond looks like.