A new website is built every three seconds.
This stat from Forbes illustrates just how quickly today’s digital landscape moves — and nods to the pace of competition that comes with it.
At Webflow Conf 2023, Miles Cox, Chief Experience Officer at VMLY&R, and Wil Brooks, Senior Principal at Slalom, joined Webflow’s Director of Partnerships, Neil Smith to discuss what’s driving shifts in today’s tech landscape, how companies can tap into modern tech like visual development platforms to remain agile as they scale, and the strategies growing teams can bring into their day-to-day to remain competitive and adapt to changing markets.
Here are a few key takeaways from the session — which you can watch in it's entirety below.
It's the era of the citizen developer
Developers are some of the most valuable assets to modern enterprises, but oftentimes, they get trapped spending precious time on repetitive, low-value tasks. “We’re seeing a lot of clients starting to reevaluate what their engineering team is doing in terms of their website development, in terms of reinventing the wheel, and really trying to optimize [the website],” Wil shares. He continues: “They are asking, “Is this really contributing toward a unique customer experience?’”
Not only do company leaders want to ensure their teams are focused on high-impact work that boosts the business’ ROI, but technical teams want this as well. “IT and developer teams want to be challenged and not work on simple, repeatable tasks,” Miles says, “and the same is true for designers.” It’s this very sentiment that has catalyzed a growing trend among enterprise businesses: transforming more business users into citizen developers.
Citizen web developers are people without coding or technical skills who use technology and platforms to build websites and web experiences. These folks sit outside of IT, providing in-house teams with the agility they need to move quickly when it comes to building and maintaining web experiences. This is a trend that analysts have been tracking for the last decade with the rise of low-code and no-code tools, Neil explains, sharing that Gartner predicts by 2026, 80% of work that involves delivering digital experiences will take place outside of IT departments.
Wil shared common questions he’s been hearing from Slalom clients: “How can we start leveraging our marketing team? How can we expedite our speed to market?” He explains that more businesses are laser-focused on improving agility, speed, and scale, and more decision makers are under pressure to attach a positive ROI to the way their websites are being developed. As a result, more and more of his clients have started to trade slow, expensive ways of building for the web for visual development tools like Webflow that give them the ability to empower more of their in-house team without compromising the quality of the end-user experience.
Experienced partners can help enterprises develop new processes
Neil touches on the reality that many organizations have spent years and tons of money developing internal processes, frameworks, and methodologies to deliver web experiences that don’t perfectly translate or apply to newer approaches to building for the web.
Miles of VMLY&R points out the challenges that come with getting enterprises to come to terms with the tradeoffs that come with onboarding new technologies and developing processes to support them. He notes the frequency with which clients ask about how to create new internal and external processes if they decide to bring on new technology, how to start shrinking development timelines, and more. And over the past 6-10 months, he shared they often take a “trial by fire approach,” assuring their clients that they have an experienced partner with whom they can learn and work through these challenges together.
Wil, meanwhile, touched on the importance of strategy during periods of change, especially when it comes to change management. This is where Slalom specializes, using data and experience to effectively help their clients “upscale resources, reallocate resources throughout an organization, and identify new opportunities for the business.”
Modern web tools can elevate customer experiences
Taking on a new way of working can be both intimidating and challenging for enterprises used to building digital experiences using traditional development models. With decades of experience working with major enterprise businesses, Miles and Wil shared advice for businesses who are contemplating bringing on visual development tools to their organizations.
For Wil, it always comes back to the customer experience (CX). “What are you trying to drive? What is the ideal experience that you want? And what is the ecosystem you need to put in place to drive these experiences?” he asks. He goes on to explain how delaying initiatives by 3, 6, 9 months can put businesses at a major disadvantage against competitors — which today’s enterprise cannot afford. The case for modern web tools, in his eyes, is this ability to not only focus on and test customer experiences, but also deliver them as quickly as possible.
Miles echoes this sentiment of focusing on CX: “You have to think about what you’re creating, why you’re creating it, and how you can then deliver that experience.” But he also cautions against feeling the pressure to have every piece of process and strategy nailed down 100% before making a change: “Just go. There’s a little bit of planning and strategy, yes, but there’s also power in trust and trying something new to figure out if it’s right for your team, right for you client, and right for your partners — and working through that together.”
Expertise is priceless
As businesses continue to explore opportunities and solutions that help them keep up with the pace of innovation, adapt to changing markets, and deliver more engaging digital experiences, having experts to support your vision and needs is critical. So we want to extend a huge thank you to our friends at Slalom and VMLY&R for sharing their knowledge and expertise with our community at Webflow Conf 2023. Be sure to catch their full conversation here.
To learn more about how Webflow can help you address key web challenges at scale, get in touch with our team today.