At Land Digital, we love nothing more than digesting the latest goings-on in the world of digital, but we don’t want to keep this knowledge to ourselves - we want to share it with you, too!
So, our team of digital experts have put together an industry roundup, revealing all you need to know about some of the hottest topics - from the streamlining capabilities of design systems to machine learning in search and Shopify’s latest features.
Design systems: a look at their evolution
The idea behind design systems is to provide a complete set of rules and reusable components to better manage design processes. This covers both back-end and front-end design, enabling effective collaboration and coherent design between developers and designers at every stage.
In recent years, we’ve watched design systems evolve from something used exclusively by big-league corporations to create cohesive, consistent and scalable digital design to a must-have for organisations of all sizes.
As demand increases on designers and developers to build more online platforms, products and services, design systems that deliver lean and efficient digital design processes are key.
“These design systems champion consistency for app and platform creation to bolster brand perception, while also enabling swift and more effective expansion and prototype building across complex projects,” adds Scott.
These systems don’t come cheap, though. Marrying UI and UX with complex coding elements that can be scaled up at speed typically require heavy investment and time to create.
Building a design system from scratch requires huge portions of front-loaded time at the design stage, as well as ensuring it has the capability to constantly evolve.
To date, this has excluded smaller brands from the party. But that’s a thing of the past.
Many brands like Airbnb, Google and Shopify have seized an opportunity to leverage some brand awareness by making their design systems available for public use by other brands.
The result benefits both parties. Design system providers become even more ubiquitous in their sectors while hosting brands get an adaptable design system with a tried and tested set of standards their users already know. Not only that - they can also be easily scaled up as demand for new products and services change.
“As UX and UI become ever more important for website design, we’d expect to see this ‘sharing’ of design systems to become the norm, streamlining design processes and scalability for brands of all sizes” Scott summarises.
The lowdown on how machine learning impacts search engines
Whether we’re aware of it or not, Artificial Intelligence (AI) has become part of our daily lives - and it isn’t going anywhere.
While current AI - also known as Narrow or Weak AI - is largely operating with algorithms that are ‘taught’ processes, there’s heavy investment in machine learning by tech giants like Google, Microsoft and Intel Capital.
This substantial backing means faster advancements in artificial intelligence, bringing more intuitive General or Strong AI (AGI) and Artificial Superintelligence (that we only see in movies) one step closer. Yikes.
From an online marketing perspective, there’s still a lot for us to learn about AI, but here are some of the important things we do know when it comes to machine learning and search engines.
Firstly, AI helps search engines take a zero-tolerance approach to low-quality content, lazy SEO and bad digital marketing habits through its ability to detect patterns within your content.
As Google becomes more and more able to interpret search intent and tailor results based on individual users’ search history and wider search behaviour, what may once have been a wild goose chase becomes a worthy quest for visibility.
Google’s natural learning processing framework, BERT, is able to interpret the context of a user’s search query. Meanwhile, the RankBrain algorithm has its own sophisticated internal thesaurus of sorts. Combined, this means Google is now more than capable of understanding what the user means by their search, how your content relates to that search, and what relation your content bears to the larger topic at hand.
“Natural language processing is a game-changer for copywriters of the SEO world”, says Tori. “From being frowned upon to ultimately being forbidden, keyword-stuffing and unnatural keyword use have gradually, and thankfully, diminished - but for a time, this left old-school SEOs in doubt as to how they could communicate their content’s relevance to a given topic to Google. The good news is this is now essentially a non-issue.”
AI in its current state is far from a finished product (and realistically never will be as it evolves and changes over time). One thing is clear, though: search engines will continue to harness the power of machine learning in their quest to improve user experience.
From an online marketing point of view, it’s official: writing informative, relevant, easy-to-read digital content is the gold standard.
The inside scoop on the latest Shopify features
Back in June, Shopify announced a bunch of exciting new features that have the potential to offer developers a lot more scope for building better, customised solutions for Shopify merchants.
To give you the inside scoop on what Shopify has in store for the ecommerce world, let's run through the top highlights you need to know.
One of the biggest announcements is the new Online Store 2.0. The introduction includes updated theme architecture, new app theme extensions and app blocks, flexible store content and developer tools like Dawn - an open-source reference theme designed to be lightweight and quick.
In addition, the Shopify Theme Store reopened in July 2021, allowing developers to build theme templates for use by merchants across the globe.
“These latest updates and additions for Online Store 2.0 should see a more streamlined and efficient storefront functionality for both developers and merchants, not to mention their customers”, Nathan predicts.
From a back-end point of view, there’s a lot of buzz around the introduction of Hydrogen.
Other significant features include making Shopify checkout extensions available to all Shopify users, not just Plus customers. This means developers can build apps that offer customised checkout experiences, whether that’s small tweaks or more complex user interfaces.
Updated Storefront APIs will also go towards giving developers more control over platform builds. These updates include inContext GraphQL directives for better buyer context around local pickup and international pricing, along with Storefront API scheme updates.
Overall, these new changes look set to make Shopify an even more robust platform that continues to put user experience at the core of its functionality.
So there you have it, our expert insights on some of the latest industry news for online marketing, design and development and how they can shape the future of our ever-changing landscape.
To futureproof your online presence, get in touch with our team of digital aficionados today for a bespoke digital solution.