We have all heard about it: digitalization. Everything goes digital, and customer behavior is transforming too. It is a fact that changing customer behavioral patterns have made an enormous impact on digital experiences and digital projects, but how did this come to pass?

Let’s take a trip down memory lane and examine the essential history.

More demanding customers

A decade ago it was enough to redecorate or revamp your website every five years, but now it’s a continuous journey to improve your digital experiences to meet your customer needs.

Today the consumers have far more demands to brands, solutions and companies than ever before. Why is that so?

Technological development

Let’s begin with the technological development, namely the progress achieved in infrastructure. The Internet is dependent on delivery through hardware: mainly cables. The development in this field, together with software innovations in Internet protocols etc. have enabled increasingly larger portions of data to be transferred more efficiently.

In the mid 90’s we had modems which were slow and probably choking your inline phone connection as well. From there on out we saw the rise of technologies like ISDN, ADSL, broadband, and fiber optics, and a similar development can be observed in the mobile data world: from 2G and 3G to 4G and 5G.

The infrastructure was not the only piece of tech to see innovation and progress. Luckily the consumer has been able to use increasingly better devices, from stationary PCs and laptops to tablets, and from cell phones to smartphones.

More tech revolution: Supercharge your site with Next.js and headless CMS »

Adding to this are even more software revolutions, especially in the Internet browser market. Here we could enjoy the looks of early 90’s HTML sites, to sites with more complex design and functionality thanks partly to CSS, to the present day’s HTML5—which has basically made the browser into an operating system, with richer clients and more functionality.

Parallel to these factors is the development of advanced technology like artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, Blockchain, and big data, which has helped pave way for even more technologically rich offerings for the end-users.

Learn the history: Websites: past and present »

UX development

Now, whereas technology certainly is a prerequisite of us sitting here—creating and consuming stuff digitally in the first place, there has also been some important developments in the field of user experience (UX), in regard to consumer behavior and digital experiences.

A fitting place to start is social media. These networks connecting people has had a tremendous impact on how we interact with each other and with brands—the ramifications are resonated far beyond the social networks themselves. Consumers now expect everything to be solved online, due to the influx of big social media networks with dynamic solutions.

See also: Top 10 trends in digital experiences »

Mobile and apps have also helped influence the way we think about UX. Users now expect nothing less than the very best usability and user-friendliness—all the time and everywhere. The best apps set the standard for everyone else and this also translates to your digital experiences on the web.

Speaking of the web, as mentioned above we now have richer clients and more browser features than ever before. UI frameworks built by the giants are used by most people and makes it easier to develop great UX faster than before. It’s a win-win situation.

One of the front-end framework rising stars is Next.js »

Bottom line: Empowered by technology

The better the technology, the more alternatives are present for the end-user. People are thus more enlightened and empowered—they can choose and pick freely among a flotilla of services, solutions, and products on the sea that is the world wide web. In the past, companies and brands had the technological edge, but nowadays the tables have turned; it’s “buyer’s market.”

While you can certainly say that it’s the other way around, that technology has shaped consumer behavior, the opposite is markedly true as well. We humans always crave for things to be better, more effective, and we love to solve riddles and problems. This has been the impetus behind all technological advances in the first place.

With more demanding customers than ever, it is important to emphasize the fact that you should adapt to your customers, their needs, and their behavior rather than the other way around. The way of the world is not static, but dynamic. If your organization wants not just to stay on top of the game but to survive in the first place, you need to adapt and identify the ongoing changes.

Guide: How to Future Proof Your Digital Experiences

First published 8 October 2018, updated 5 August 2022.

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