Shawn Hooghkirk

Shawn Hooghkirk

December 2018
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Where will websites be in 20 years?


That’s a question I’ve been asking myself lately. Since I depend on the industry at the moment, it’s a valid question.

At the end of the day, websites are here to get our message to the world. Whether a service, store, or personal blog, websites close the loop of communication.

They’ve done a great job at that too.

Where websites have historically fallen short, is the communication. It’s one-way.

We create websites blindfolded, with the goal of providing visitors a way to find out information and make the best decision possible. It’s akin to setting up a store, hanging up a “We’re Open” sign, and then allowing customers to walk in and hope they find their way around all without any employees. Heck, we even make them use the register (hope you figure it out!).

That has been changing, though (online chat, personalization, cookies, etc.) We can even watch the visitor’s mouse cursor while they browse our websites now with certain tools. Although a step in the right direction, we’re still half-blindfolded even with all of the analytics at our fingertips.

But even more important than all of that, the visitor is left with a lot of work to do. Not only do they have to find what they’re looking for, but they also need to figure out how your store is organized because just about every store they’ve visited is organized in an entirely different manner.

All that to say, I believe that’s going to change. In a big way.

If we use the analogy of a brick and mortar store, websites (rather, companies) need a salesman to help diagnose customers concerns and help guide them to the right product for their specific needs. Being influential wouldn’t hurt either. These salesmen need to be available 24/7 and, at the top of their game for every single conversation. Oh, and they’d better have a good understanding of the customer before they even say hello.

Welcome to the future.

It’s actually quite funny if you think about it. We’re basically looping back to where we originally started. One human having a conversation with another human. In this case, a facade of a human, but that’s beside the point.

With the increasing number of options we now have (not to mention, in the future), it’s a lot of work to make a good decision. It’s also becoming more difficult to stay abreast of all the solutions out there that can best help our unique situation.

Where I see back-end website developers today, I see developers who will soon be developing, to what all the kids are raging about these days, artificial intelligence. Working on ridiculously complex algorithms that help guide conversations and provide solutions for the customer. What does that mean? Yep, a super duper salesman for every company.

But this begs the question: if there is a super duper salesman for every company, don’t we need a super duper buddy that will help negotiate with that salesman based on our unique needs? I mean, it’d be difficult to believe a salesman like that would be more concerned with our needs above the companies own.

Strikingly, that does defeat the point of bringing back human communication since two machines would be doing all the talking. But maybe our communication comes into play while talking with our buddy as he gets to know our needs? Seems likely.

All that to say, what will websites be like in 20 years?

What’s a website?

Christian, Husband, Father, Fresno State Alum, Owner / President @ Graticle