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The future of online engagement - what are the trends and where are we heading

Developments in the web space are rapid, and the face of online business is constantly changing. With the findings of the Engaged Web in New Zealand Report still fresh in my head, I set about surfing the net to find some of the world’s most engaging websites and to identify some emerging trends and common themes when it comes to websites that truly engage with their visitors.

My surfing expedition now complete, here’s what I came back with…

Mobile movement

It’s approaching a lot faster than anyone expected. Smartphones are outselling PCs according to a study done by IDC, changing the face of the computer to an array of shapes and sizes. Many websites are geared towards PCs and netbooks and future forecasts by industry leaders such as Mary Meeker, dubbed the ‘Queen of the Net’, predict that the majority of visitors will turn to their mobile device and tablet for browsing the internet.

With mobile browsing becoming more prevalent, ensuring websites are easy to use and engaging for not only a PC and Netbook but also smartphones and tablets is important. All websites will need to consider the smartphone for not only the near future, but for 2011. For now, all organisations need to gear their website to a mobile-friendly version for 2011.

A good example of an effective translation of a website from a PC screen to a smartphone screen is Stuff’s website.


Stuff website


Smartphones also offer advertising opportunities via a new platform; however, these present websites with limited space. With space at a premium in this new format, it’s essential to ensure your mobile-friendly website version has design that is clear and concise. Emarketer found that smartphone users prefer simple advertising, such as coupons and newsletters, over video and commercial advertising. The touchscreen also offers a relatively new way of navigating around a website and it’s an integral part of the smartphone functionality, so designing mobile friendly websites that function well for touchscreen is also vital.

Mobile browsing is here and the mobile market is growing so gearing your website towards smartphones is definitely something to seriously consider in 2011.


Social media

Social media is something all businesses should by now at least be aware of. It was interesting to note that in our Engaged Web Report, 27% of the websites we surveyed didn’t have a social media network page or online community for their organisation. With the websites we assessed being the most visited websites in New Zealand for their sector, many would think that they would have some form of social media or online community.

The most popular social media network that businesses need to embrace is Facebook. Globally, there are over 600 million Facebook users and it reaches an audience over 629 million per day. On the 3rd of March 2011 New Zealand had an audience of 1,846,020 – and the estimated population of NZ in 2010 was 4,393,500 – that’s nearly half of the NZ population on Facebook. The NZ Herald DigiPoll that looked at New Zealand’s social networking habits showed over half of New Zealanders have a profile page and half of them check it daily. Not only that, but one person in 10 admits they’re addicted to Facebook and 46% say it’s improved the way they communicate with others. Facebook is not just taking over the US and other major countries; it’s quite obviously having a major effect on New Zealand.


Facebook map


Many users are of the younger generation; however the older generation is growing and now represents a significant presence. Of the NZ Facebook users 25.3% were aged 18-24, 23.7% were aged 25-34 and 16.1% were aged 35-44.


New Zealand Facebook


Facebook allows businesses to connect with their customers and offers marketing opportunities via another platform. As New Zealand social media expert Simon Young points out, “It's much more of a two-way model. People can comment on the businesses' wall and let them know their feedback instantly. Most businesses do have a Facebook profile these days."

48% of the younger generation in America find out about news through Facebook and 48% of 18-34 year olds check Facebook as soon as they wake up. Check out this video here, it gives a little more insight into the Facebook phenomenon (American based).

Social Media also requires a lot of attention from an organisation. Currently, online marketing subscriptions such as Emarketer, Marketing Professionals and Marketing Sherpa are particularly focused on offering social media tips and advice such as ‘9 rules for social media’ and ‘research to improve your Facebook marketing’.

What's more, new organisations such as SY are dedicating their time to teaching businesses about social media. And new career opportunities and positions such as ‘Social Media Analyst’ are being created. All this suggests that social media, especially Facebook, is now a central part of business activity.

With over half of New Zealand on Facebook, and the 35-65+ age group growing significantly on this platform, many businesses could embrace this social media network to better engage with their customers and open themselves up to the business opportunities Facebook offers.



Here are some website designs that will spark inspiration… and in the near future could become a norm for the business web space (bandwidth and web speeds permitting). Click on the links and have a closer look!


 Microsoft Office 2010 - I love Mum and Dad e-card competition Winner of 2010 Best Computer Software site awarded by the Web Marketing association

Microsoft Website


Night Owl

Night owl website



Joyent website



Cappen website


Never a better time

Never a better time website


 Marie Catribs

Marie Catribs website


 Future of web design

future of web design website


Moods of Norway

Moods of Norway website


Mark Ecko

Mark Ecko website


What else is happening (or about to happen) in the world of web engagement?


You can read The Engaged Web in New Zealand Report here for free!

Posted by: Rose Harris, Marketing Assistant | 10 March 2011

Tags: Community, Engaged Web, 2011 predictions

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