Web design is always influenced by new devices and features. One of the latest iterations is the "internet of things," or IoT. IoT can mean many things, but as it relates to web design, it centers around smart technology and connected devices. This can be as simple as smart lighting to something more complex like a smart assistant, which can control everything from refrigerators to locks and thermostats. So, how can you build a website that’s user-friendly for IoT?
Is IoT Really Important for Web Design?
While it might seem like IoT is in a separate sphere, the answer is yes — IoT matters for web design. Think about the fact that people access the internet through more than a desktop, laptop, or smartphone. In some cases, people are browsing the web through personal assistants like Alexa, Siri, or Cortana. In the case of wearable devices like smartwatches, the watch is designed to communicate with other connected devices such as a smartphone to share health and fitness metrics.
This means that your website needs to be designed with IoT access in mind. As more people rely on an intermediary device to browse the web or manage additional tasks, your website needs to be ready to work in tandem with an IoT-connected device without interrupting the end user’s experience.
What Key Factors Should Be Addressed in IoT Web Development?
IoT introduces new concerns that must be tackled if a website is going to be effective when used with IoT devices.
Data Collection and Processing
IoT collects and processes massive amounts of data. Usually, with IoT devices, this information is collected through sensors and stored in the cloud for easy sharing across an encrypted network. But for a website, data transmission of that size could cause delays that might slow loading speeds or cause the website to crash.
To get around this, businesses need to source web developers with a background in language and framework expertise for IoT. These developers are capable of creating the scalable frameworks needed for multiple IoT applications. The focus is normally continuous data collection that transfers quickly to servers. Likewise, you’ll need a team that constantly monitors your system to flag and correct bugs, upgrade systems, or overhaul them as needed.
Intelligent User Interfaces
Of course, the design is always important. Websites or platforms that are difficult to navigate detract from your conversion goals and, over time, drive traffic elsewhere. But creating an intelligent user interface (UI) that’s nice to look at and is also IoT-friendly is easier said than done.
This is especially true because of the rise of dynamic UI. “Dynamic UI” is defined as “portlets or pages that are dynamically created based on the definition of an existing page or portlet definition.” This means that the interface is flexible to accommodate multiple functions at once and can display somewhat differently depending on the user profile.
One of the biggest barriers is that IoT technology evolves constantly. You may need to perform a little trial and error, along with A/B testing, to determine which interface works best and converts with your target audience.
The Rise of Chatbots
Chatbots aren’t new, but the consumer’s expectation of how a chatbot will interact with them has changed. While earlier iterations could be robotic, consumers now expect chatbots that are intuitive and responsive. In many cases, a chatbot can resolve customer problems and eliminate the need to send every query to a live agent.
To achieve that goal, you’ll need to have a chatbot that relies on machine learning algorithms to adjust to queries and then answer them. Likewise, chatbots that can accommodate voice search are also essential as voice search continues to rise in prominence.
With all of that data being collected, your backend security needs to be prioritized. While IoT can make life easier for consumers, it also serves as a prime target for hackers. Digital security must be a key factor, which means your design team will need to implement the following:
- Minimize the use of plugins and add-ons as they provide weak spots that are easy to hack
- Use an SSL certification and ensure that connections are encrypted
- Invest in a good firewall to protect data and strengthen website security
- Constantly test your design during the build-out phase for vulnerabilities
Don’t Forget the Page Experience
Google’s aptly-named new algorithm is going to put a higher rank on websites with a better page experience than those that are clunky. And just because you’re prioritizing IoT interactions doesn’t mean you should ignore Google’s Page Experience criteria. As you create a mobile-friendly site, make sure that your website loads quickly and that pages and their elements are stable.
Making the Leap to IoT-first Web Design
At a glance, prioritizing IoT in your web design can feel overwhelming. And that’s understandable considering the constantly changing technologies that surround it. However, as voice search continues to rise, and reliance on IoT devices doesn’t show any sign of slowing, it’s important to incorporate it into your web development plans. If you don’t have an in-house team that is able to tackle the various requirements for proper IoT-compatible design, the team at The Creative Momentum is here to help. Our developers are experienced in designing IoT-friendly websites that are agile, secure, and user-friendly.