A New Role of a Business Website Within the Digital Transformation Landscape

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As the world goes digital, change is inevitable. For now, it has been years since the digital transformation altered the way businesses operate. Namely, it has brought numerous novelties both in business management and the assets it employs. As a part of that, corporate web development has gained a new role to play.

And it is not the endpoint. With the profit from AI-powered solutions, machine learning, and other digital assets, businesses are becoming more digitally aware, thus, more robust to fit the frames of the contemporary market environment. But how to make a business website respond to all these changes and do it effectively? That is what we are going to talk about.

Digitization vs. digitalization vs. digital transformation 

Before we delve deeper into the subject, it’s critical to clear some things up. Digital transformation has been around for quite a time, but not everyone knows it started long ago prior we knew it as it is. Its roots trace back to the 1940s, and it might be hard to imagine what was digital about that time? Well, it was. 

In 1948 Claude Shannon published  “A Mathematical Theory of Communication,” and the entire science of information appeared. The work described an idea that every mode of communication – be it a text, telephone signal, or radio wave, could be encoded in the digital language to be easily transmitted by the computer. The researcher became a true initiator of the digital age, and the once-unclear notion of information was defined. That opening then resonated with the process of digitization, which implied converting data from a non-digital, physical format to a digital one to be used by the computer. Going from paper notes to typing them in Excel can be an example.

Thanks to that, finding and sharing data became much effortless, although the way businesses managed digital records significantly mimicked the physical format. Think of file folders icons used in operating systems resembling real-life folders to make users feel less overwhelmed with change. Still, it was needed to make a serious shift from the analog. 

There came digitalization. Defined as the adoption of digitized information and digital technologies to improve internal business operations, it automated business processes, making enterprises more efficient, productive, and profitable. The main difference between digitization and digitalization is that the first is about changing the ways you operate, while the latter means involving these ways in the overall business model and keeping up to that pattern. If we take the Excel example from above, digitalization will be converting Excel spreadsheets to a Google Sheet to store them in the cloud and be accessible for other users. 

Finally, the science of information made its way to what is determined as digital transformation. As the name suggests, it is the transformation of business processes, products, patterns, and assets to fully realize the power of digital transformation data and technology.

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Digital transformation in a quick overview

Although you already know the ins and outs of digital transformation history, it’s still critical to look at the digital transformation definition. And to get a fuller understanding, let’s expand the subject and explore it from two different angles. So, what is digital transformation? 

If we think of it as a process, it can be described as the integration of the digital assets into all business areas to change the way it operates and manages its external course. Why? The reason is to reflect the IT sector’s progress so the business can match the rhythm and stay relevant with modern standards. 

Imagine you want to buy a picture from an artist you’d loved since local gallery visiting times. And the first thing you will do is naturally check for it online. Anticipating how perfectly it will suit the color of the walls in your living room, how unhappy you will be to find out a painter offers only offline sales, and he moved miles away seeking inspiration. And how unfortunate it can be for an artist to miss out on a considerable sum of money since you are not the only one from many similarly disappointed buyers. But what if he employed an international shipping service and crafted a website to showcase his brilliant works and communicate with the customers? In other words, the time for an artist’s digital transformation has come.

At this point, another side of the digital transformation definition comes to the surface. If we replace “artist” with “business,” it becomes clear. Behind the exterior tech improvements, there is also an idea of the essential change and its value to business exterior performance, meaning communication. Therefore, digital transformation is also a tool to unleash the creativity and innovation that positively impacts business growth and image. Ultimately, it’s almost impossible to avoid that change, especially a needed one. But what made it so needed?

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Digital transformation drivers

When it comes to reasons why digital transformation is essential, a lot can be said. But we don’t want to overwhelm you. Instead, we compiled a list of the most significant digital transformation drivers for you to consider:

  • Changed customer expectations

Everyone knows that customer experience is vital for business performance. And to make it enjoyable and seamless, it’s critical to know at least something about your customers so as to meet their expectations. You won’t succeed in offering to a startup-related audience expensive services on consulting, right? Data is now being collected everywhere. SMEs generally do not face difficulties, and that process is relatively less-consuming for them. But what about large corporations? How to gather massive amounts of data without spending more than the opportunities allow? It can be a real headache. Hopefully, there is a solution.

With the emergence of customer data platforms, such businesses gained a single source of information, helping them create a more personalized experience, offer relevant products and services, and build effective marketing campaigns. And all that means customer experience and digital transformation are interrelated – by improving data collection and integration – you can extensively advance the customer journey.

  • Security issues

As the digital transformation required an immediate response from businesses not to lag behind the competition, they started seeking ways to rapidly go-to-market solutions. One of them appeared to be DevOps. Although it helped shorten the systems development life cycle and ensured continuous delivery with high-quality software, something significant was left behind. And that was security.

To solve that issue and minimize digital transformation risk, it needed to introduce a solid defense mechanism. That way, cybersecurity entered the scene, bringing technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning, and the cloud into web security solutions.

  • Mobile technology 

Today, having a responsive website or mobile version it’s more of a standard rather than extended functionality. However, it wasn’t the case a decade ago. Since mobile entered the web, smartphones, from being a simple means of communication, evolved into the so-called center of customers’ connected environment. It enabled businesses to be accessible for users anytime from everywhere. And why miss such an opportunity? That made mobile a gateway to extended digital presence, paving the way for intensive digital transformation.

What does it mean for corporate website design

A corporate website, being one of the most vital business assets, could no longer stay resilient to the changes brought by digital transformation. Apart from the importance of responsiveness and cybersecurity, corporate website design shifted its focus to many other significant aspects – it needs to meet a whole set of considerations. At the same time, it should remain consistent and continue to transmit the original value to escape wiping off the website’s authentic purpose. Although it might seem right to enable several top-notch features to your platform, it won’t truly align with the new role of a website within the digital transformation landscape. For corporate website design, it means much more than upgraded functionality or revamp. But what’s exactly?

The first thing to recognize is that a business website can now be designed to handle problems without your day-to-day involvement. Turning autonomous, the platform will bring profit not only for your business but also for the users. In other words, if looking at this issue from the digital transformation perspective, a business website can deliver a first-rate experience on its own. That will leave you more space for building out external performance because internal communication will be carried out thanks to automation. 

If we take machine learning as an example, by enabling it into your platform, you can save much time as it will automatically point out the core needs of your target audience. And if you won’t be here to offer your customers the right products or services, your website functionality empowered by digital transformation will always be.

However, to make that all happen, it’s also vital to understand that a business website is not a stand-alone platform, at least not anymore. That is because digital assets gave it the right to become an omnichannel of communication, delivering the same omnichannel experience. And that is a considerable benefit for those who accelerate digital transformation, as companies with robust omnichannel experience retain 89% of their customers, compared to 33% retention for companies with a weak one. A valuable data to consider, isn’t it? Accordingly, corporate website design should move from being an intermediary between the customers and the businesses (as it was previously) and include the third party into that scheme, namely technology. And linking them all will contribute to what an omnichannel website is. 

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The reasons to embrace that change 

As a rule, customer expectations are transforming with each input the digital epoch brings, so the first and foremost reason to make your business website omnichannel is to be able to meet the renewed consumers’ needs to stay competitive within the market.

Let’s take an artist we mentioned, and compare him to another who succeeded in embracing digital transformation. The second artist sells his paintings via the website, which unifies the demand, the supply, and the data because it is omnichannel. What does it mean? The website features his works, making it possible to respond to the demand. At the same time, it makes it possible for the customers to order the desired painting or choose shipping options that resonate with the supply. And finally, the digital transformation data makes both previous activities possible and even more. If we take chatbots, they can support potential buyers and answer their questions while the artist is happily busy drawing new art. Such a triptych approach makes both buyers and artists satisfied. Ultimately, digital transformation properly done takes a company to a whole new level. But if it isn’t enough for you, there is a list of other benefits of digital transformation adoption:

  • Immersive customer experience

In addition to satisfying customers’ expectations with CDP, thanks to digital technology adapted to your website, you can do even beyond – provide them with an enriched experience. And since 37% of IT initiatives worldwide are focused on improving customer experience (Flexera, 2021), it might be a considerable benefit. If a website is an omnichannel source, customers won’t need to go somewhere else to solve their particular issues. As simple as it is, having everything-right-here-and-now for your users can tip the scales in favor of your business. 

  • Costs and efforts saved

With an omnichannel website, you can do more with less. If speaking about automation, the more automated processes you employ, the more space there is for creativity or more serious business issues. Also, you will save your budget since there is no need to hire consultants or customer support services because of automated assistance (if the scope of the business allows).

  • Increased agility

When implementing agile processes and digital solutions, businesses naturally adapt faster to the changing environment, which gives them flexibility. And being flexible in a fast-changing world is essential to be ahead of the industry. 

  • Innovation 

Embracing digital change means taking advantage of the newest technologies and innovation. For instance, the cloud, as one of the digital transformation elements, enables you to protect your business’ data with the strongest line of digital defense, meaning encryption. That goes further with cybersecurity, making your website a reliable source since customers’ data is also protected. And high security can be significant leverage to the overall business continuity.

How to make your website respond to the innovation brought by digital transformation

Once you know the role of a business website within digital transformation and the benefits of embracing these changes, another question might come to mind – how to effectively ratify innovation and stay consistent with a renewed strategy? If you’re not sure whether you can manage it, you can always refer to a competent digital transformation consulting service. But if you’re a solo player, there are the top 5 digital innovation assets with the best examples to consider for your corporate website design in 2022:

01 Artificial intelligence

AI can do a lot to your website to become digitally empowered. In particular, it can enhance the platform’s appearance, strengthen its search abilities, manage and organize the content better, improve UX, and help with digital marketing campaigns. Sounds impressive, but what does AI stand for? Essentially, it is a technological intelligence that aims to replace human tasks making various operations faster and with fewer efforts. And with the growth of digital transformation, AI has become an integral part of modern web design and development. Thus, at least 90% of new enterprise apps will deploy AI technology within their processes and products by 2025, (IDC).

It all started with the Grid as the first example of AI in web design, but now there are many more AI-powered solutions to implement. For instance, look at the Netflix AI recommendations that help it deliver highly customizable experiences to the viewers. The technology traces the users’ journey through their on-site search route and then automatically offers the content suitable for their preferences.

Netflix_Ester_Digital
from www.netflix.com

Another good example is Amazon’s AI-enhanced algorithms that provide the insights needed to give the consumers what they may want to buy based on their previous items lists.

Amazon_Ester_Digital
from www.amazon.com

If you want more, look at how the World Health Organization uses artificial intelligence to translate the content of its website. That makes the platform accessible for people from different cultures, which is vital for organizations of such scale and other industrial giants.

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from www.who.int

Ultimately, artificial intelligence has a massive output on web design, and chatbots being part of that, can also help your website enter the digital transformation. Here is how the Liverpool City Council website embarks on that bandwagon with its artificial intelligence chatbot and makes it quite successful.

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from www.liverpool.gov.uk

02 Machine learning

Living in epoch machine learning, we can’t deny its importance to the business website design list. Acting similarly to artificial intelligence, machine learning helps spot and recognize trends, make decisions, forecast, and improve the user experience. In other words, it goes far beyond the visible customers’ expectations and drives them further by offering exactly what they need. Such a data-driven approach can guarantee higher customer involvement, making your website a valuable assistant for them. 

The most vivid example of machine learning is Google search. It uses the weighting of connections to predict words that can appear together in search queries. That significantly saves the users’ time, making them more loyal to the engine.

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from www.google.com

03 VR

VR is often called the future of web design, and there are quite a few reasons for that. Not only does it help to deepen the user experience, but it also contributes to higher engagement and interactivity. Having it on your website can increase retention as curious visitors won’t be able to leave without experiencing that joy. 

Apart from entertainment, VR can significantly help you in business performance. Take the real estate industry that eagerly uses VR in home listings to provide virtual walkthrough options for home buyers. The full presence effect can be strong decision-making leverage, helping you get more closed deals without even holding real meetings with potential clients. Sotheby real estate definitely knows how to get an advantage from that.

Sotheby_Ester_Digital
from www.sothebysrealty.com

04 Accessibility

You may involve numerous of the latest top-notch technologies to your website, but if the site is not accessible, what’s the point then? Around 20% of the population lives with a disability, which signifies one in five web visitors may need assistive technology. Thus, having an accessible website is everything, especially in the settings of digital transformation. 

In a nutshell, digital accessibility means that users of all abilities can manage your website at ease, regardless of what device they launch it on, and without any obstacles depriving them of the site’s functionality. And if it isn’t so, you may face low conversion rates and the same low customer loyalty, and a high chance to lag behind the competition. So, if you want your website to fit the digital transformation settings, it’s critical to ensure it is accessible like the Paypal website does it.

PayPal_Ester_Digital
from www.paypal.com

Also, take a look at Apple Siri. It uses voice UI to simplify the search process, which positively impacts accessibility and brings user experience to another, more prolific level.

Siri_Ester_Digital
from www.apple.com

05 Digital transformation strategy 

The ultimate thing to remember is that strategy, not technology, drives digital transformation. And when speaking about what website needs to adapt to the changes effectively, the answer is clear. So, let us not reinvent the wheel. 

Digital transformation strategy is not always the same from business to business or website to website. However, there are some practices that are true to whatever strategy and can guarantee success:

  • outline your aims
  • know your target audience
  • define means you need to reach the goals 
  • plan out your budget
  • improve 

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There are numerous digital transformation success stories to inspire you. But we name the two exciting examples. Nike’s digital transformation strategy appeared to be an effective tool to advance brand awareness and grow sales. Nike partnered with Amazon extending its digital presence and reaching out to more customers. Also, the brand employed AR to empower its Fit app, providing an exclusive yet entirely accessible brand experience to all.

Nike_Ester_Digital
from www.nike.com

Another success story is IKEA. Since COVID-19 entered the scene, the limitations caused by the pandemic urged the company to shift its focus to digital solutions. Its website empowered Augmented Reality home projects that allowed the customers to virtually furnish their homes before the deal. As a result, online purchases boosted. And that is how the balance between the business, customer, and technology within an omnichannel website can help you embark on digital transformation.

IKEA_Ester_Digital
from www.ikea.com

On a final note

Within the digital transformation scenario, the business website has gained a new role to play. Thanks to innovative digital assets, it turned into an omnichannel of communication, making it possible to tie business, customer, and technology together. Now, you can collect and use customers’ data to extend and advance their experience, automate tasks and increase agility. However, to make technology work in tandem with two other communication essentials, you should build a clear digital transformation strategy. Only that way will it be possible to find the right direction and not lose it in a sea of inconsistency. 

If you’re not sure about how to handle digital transformation within your corporate website – feel free to contact us. We will provide you with more valuable insight to help you manage this issue.

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