Traditionally, the role of a commercial website is to communicate information in one direction, to prospective customers or partners. Of course, good web design has always included contact forms and other means for visitors to follow up with site owners, but two-directional, onsite communication was pretty rare for a long time.
In recent years, however, more and more e-commerce and business-to-business websites have taken on a notably interactive role. Usually, this takes the form of an on-site chat interface – something you may have noticed in the form of a nondescript pop-up in the corner of a website, asking if there’s anything it can help you with.
Sometimes, there’s a real person behind these chat windows. Often there isn’t. Sometimes it’s just another version of a “contact us” form, albeit one that doesn’t require the visitor to navigate to a different page or fill in a lot of extraneous information. These different options all represent distinct functions, but that’s essentially why on-site communication has gradually become more popular. These various options didn’t really exist in the past.
Nowadays, web design professionals can provide their clients with access to AI templates which allow them to set up their own automated response chat window. There’s no need to build those sorts of sophisticated tools from scratch or to spend an excessive sum of money on giving your visitors a personal touch and a sense that the website is attending to their needs.
Of course, automatic responses can only do so much to communicate those features. You’ve probably learned that lesson well if you’ve navigated a few voice recognition systems by phone. The better-designed of those systems will give you lead you through a handful of well-tested responses before putting you in touch with a real person or letting you leave a message. Good web design can now do the same thing with a chat window. Companies can use it as a stepping stone to direct contact with a customer service representative, while still avoiding the trouble of trying to reach out directly to every lead, even the ones that will click away after a few seconds.
Active web design professionals have noticed enough of an uptick in requests for these sorts of chat windows that it’s probably safe to say they constitute a major trend in web design for 2021. This makes sense for more reason than one. Leaving aside the fact that designers can make this feature work better than ever before, there’s also the fact that people are still keeping direct contact to a minimum as they await more widespread coronavirus vaccinations.
If web design can create effective direct contact between site owners and visitors, it can provide an alternative to the walk-ins and direct meetings that might have featured prominently in an earlier business model. This would have been a good feature to play with at any time in 2020, but it is still just as valuable today, as we all look ahead to more online work, some of which might become accepted as normal over the long term.