At this point, Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Apple, Facebook, Twitter and more all understand what is at stake. It is really control over the heart of the user and how they interact with technology. In 2014, it will be a race to see who can deliver it first, in an intuitive and heavily adopted way. What am I talking about? I speaking about one intuitive user interface that encompasses everything the users want to be able to interact with. Let me explain.
I have a tablet, a smart phone, a laptop, a PC, a computer in my car and I often use similar devices that are not mine. These devices should all operate the same, and be based on my own customization and personal preferences. These major players are looking for a way to create this. Google is a step ahead of the game here. This is particularly true if you use Chrome. For example, if you do a search on your PC and then click on a result Google will record that information and if you do a similar search on your phone it will tell you that you have visited that page. Another example would be if you input an event in your Google calendar in your PC, it would update you on your phone.
While things are improving here, they still have a ways to go. As we move into the tail end of 2014 I expect this to be a major initiative for the larger players online. They will of course have a very hard time getting around Google’s leadership in the area and their massive hold of the smart phone market with Android.
One Search Engine
Over the last 10 or 15 years search engines have primarily delivered webpage listings and then of course ads on the side. Within the last 5 years or so they have started introducing social media profiles and even social media updates. During this time, search engines also started showing personal results such as your own photos, surfacing your emails showing what your friends had clicked and/or recommended, etc.
With the introduction of knowledge graph, Google is now in some cases not even showing a result, but instead just answering your question for you. This year Google made it possible to also optimize applications for the first time. This gives you the ability to get your application listed in Google. Facebook had already made this possible, allowing users to search for only Facebook apps through their internal search engine. It is important to note here that Facebook really hit a home run with Opengraph. It allowed them to become a central part of many websites online and capture extensive amounts of data.
Microsoft took their Bing search engine to the next level when they integrated it with Windows 8. It allows for users to search the entire operating systems. When performing a search, it delivers results from the web, your device, apps, and the cloud, all with one search.
What we really have here is an opportunity for each of these companies, and others, to provide search results that account for modern day queries, are tailored correctly to individual users preferences and provide a new wave of data in a digestible way.
One Social Media Dashboard
The idea of a dashboard falls in line with one major login, but making different social media updates digestible will be critical. Many have tried and Hootsuite, Wildfire, Radian 6 and Sprout Social have all done a decent job of this. But these are more on the business management side. There are of course sites for personal social media update aggregation. Examples would be Klout, Flavors.me, Rebel Mouse, Ming.ly, Buffer, SocialOomph, TweetDeck, etc. Who has really done the best job, from a digestible information standpoint for an individual user, is Android and Gmail. Android has a very easy drop down that shows all of your social updates in one place. Want to read one, just click on it. If you don’t want to read one, just close it out (or even close all of them out at once). Then of course Gmail has the new tabs for primary emails, promotional and social. This helps keep things segmented as well.
Major players will be working to find the best way to deliver this social media information for individual users. The way this information is displayed will have major implications for marketing.
Enhanced Predictive Abilities
If you are not using Google Now and getting Cards sent to you then you are in for a treat. The Google Now program predicts what you would be searching for at a certain time and simply makes the information available to you on your smart phone screen. Examples of this would be the weather for the day, time to work, a football game score or time, important breaking news, stock prices, etc.
The information provided by Google Now is already very helpful. Google will be improving abilities here and others will be working hard to catch up.
One Inclusive Interface, Where Limited Thinking and Interaction is Needed
So what does this all boil down to? Don’t make me think! That is actually the title of a great book on usability and conversion rate optimization, “Don’t make me think.” It is pretty old but worth a read. But this is the concept. If we want to evolve and get to point where we have an almost symbiotic relationship (technology is not an organic life form, but you get the idea) with our technology it needs to adapt seamlessly to us. It should know what we want before we even want it. With the introduction of more and more screens, each of these screens need to function in the same way and provide the information we need with as little resistance as possible. In 2014, the major players will be trying to create this experience. It is going to be fun to watch and you can bet Ignite Visibility will have new and improved Internet marketing strategies to take advantage of the new world as it evolves.