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Is your website ready for Generation Z?

How are perceptions of the web changing with younger generations?

Gen Z is becoming a driving force in virtually every type of user and consumer trend. This large, diverse generation of digital natives is growing up in a vastly different world than any previous generation. They have never known an analog world, which produces a different set of expectations for the future of technology, particularly in regard to their digital experiences.

The expectation is not just that the web will play an increasingly larger role in their life, but that it is, and will continue to be, an absolutely integral part of their life. For example, 57 percent of Gen Z believes that in five years the digital world will determine what they do on a daily basis, 60 percent believes their online reputation will determine their dating options, and a surprising 71 percent believes that online actions, including social media posts and past purchases, will affect future job offers.

With the rise of Gen-Z audiences, are websites prepared to meet new demands?

They need to be or they risk losing millions of dollars in revenue. Gen Z already influences billions of dollars in annual spending and will soon be the driver of every major consumer trend. In fact, it’s predicted that by 2020, Gen Z will constitute 40 percent of all consumers. This presents an incredible opportunity for companies targeting their business and makes a brand’s digital face to the world – their website – the single most important place to express their purpose and deliver value. To effectively reach this younger generation, a brand’s digital experience needs to deliver value by establishing an ongoing dialogue with these stakeholders in an authentic, personalised and secure way. Brands that can’t adapt to the unique needs and behavior of these true digital and mobile natives are likely to fade into obsolescence and miss out on their incredible purchasing power.

How can marketers measure a website’s success?

To truly impact the bottom line, marketers must ask what website actions drive value, track those actions, and use a blended view of value to inform how to optimise their website. Instead of just tracking conversions, marketers need to look for innovative ways to track the value of those conversions. They need to be able to analyse variables like the sale amount, sale type (new/returning customer), and any other metadata related to the conversion that would give you a complete picture of the value your site is generating. In this manner you’ll be able to more quickly adapt to trends and you’ll be optimising for what’s really important, revenue, and not simply conversions.

What are some of the ways that marketers and IT professionals can boost website performance?

Using tools like webpagetest.org or the WordPress focused wpengine.com/speed-tool, webmasters can identify what specific parts of their site might be causing performance issues. Some of the more common fixes for boosting performance include the use of a content distribution network, optimising the images on your site, and hosting on a performant digital experience platform.

With there being such a wide array of marketing technology solutions available today, how will this affect IT decision making?

While the IT department is still likely to make the final decision for digital technology spend, marketers have a growing, powerful voice in what technology is purchase and used today. In a recent international survey of enterprise-level IT and marketing professionals, almost a quarter of enterprise executives said that the marketing department decides on the digital technology spend. So more and more, IT and Marketing are partnering to decide on the right technology for their needs. Both disciplines are needed to solve the demands of personalisation and expectation that we are seeing emerge with Gen Z.

What can marketers look forward to from the upcoming WordPress 5 release?

The current WordPress visual editor hasn’t had many changes over the years. With the Gutenberg editor coming out in the WordPress 5.0 release, users will have a completely revised and refreshing experience. Gutenberg offers a way to create a website quickly by dragging elements (or ‘blocks’) to desired locations which makes adding rich content to WordPress simple and enjoyable. The new interface is more intuitive, it works far better on mobile and it should bring even more advocates to WordPress. This is the future of WordPress – the architecture that powers 30% of the entire web. The advent of Gutenberg as part of the editing experience will further put power into the hands of marketers everywhere – enabling non-technical users to create high performing, secure websites quickly and with ease. Where the original WordPress brought the democratisation of publishing to the masses, Gutenberg will bring the democratisation of simplified page building as well.

What do businesses need to know about the future of web development?

To put it simply, the future is open source. The era of legacy, expensive, proprietary software and CMSs is over. In the international survey mentioned earlier, a near unanimity (93 per cent) of IT and Marketing respondents believe that there are multiple benefits to having a secondary CMS. Those benefits include faster time to market, ease of use, agility and the ability to experiment and customise quickly. And WordPress is the leading secondary CMS among enterprise companies and, in a growing number of cases, the primary one. Clearly those companies are seeing the intrinsic benefits of using multiple CMSs to help run their business. The decision to go with more than one CMS is most often made at the executive level, proving the strategic value that multiple CMS deliver to businesses of all sizes.

Mary Ellen Dugan is Chief Marketing Officer at WP Engine

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