Our changing relationship with the web

February 26, 2021

Much has changed over the past 12 months including our relationship with websites. People are arguably using the web in a different way now and, in some cases, we are being ‘forced’ to interact with it simply to achieve every day tasks.

We’ve heard of many older people who have really improved their web skills since Covid-19 hit. Some now think nothing of getting involved with a family Zoom call; we heard of a couple in their late-80s who are now regularly online. The other week it was their granddaughter’s 30th birthday and her husband asked a local cake maker to deliver a slice of cake to her family and friends, along with a Zoom link. The couple received the cake and clicked online at the correct time. 

“We would never have believed that we’d be online like this 12 months ago,” they said. “We felt we had to adapt and be a little brave, else we’d miss out on seeing our family.”

Also, we are all reading more content online now – often because we’ve simply got more time to do that. Other people have found themselves ordering more online – from the weekly shop to meals from local restaurants and pubs.

Added to this, many people who provide exercise of some sort – from personal trainers to pilates teachers – have adapted what they offer to deliver classes online.

According to Ofcom, UK adults are now spending more than a quarter of their waking day online – the highest on record.  Ofcom’s annual report, Online Nation, revealed that, in April 2020 – at the height of the first lockdown – UK adults spent a daily average of four hours and two minutes online – up from just under three and a half hours in September the previous year.

Businesses have had to adapt to the fact that their website is no longer simply ‘a holding page’ but a first port of call for potential customers. For this reason, companies have been adding elements to the website to make the buying process easier – such as a pop-up calculator, so clients can work out what something will cost. 

While people are getting more confident and, indeed, more used to parting with their money online, companies are having to reach out online a bit more than they did before. For instance, many businesses have made getting in touch by telephone a lot easier – with this option made more prominent on the website – while companies have become more transparent about their pricing, listing costs online when they might not have done before.

We have also seen businesses – from law firms to tradespeople - adding short introduction videos to their websites, so that potential customers can see who they are dealing with. 

Little more than 12 months ago, if we needed some work doing in our home, we might well invite three or four tradespeople along to provide a quote – which was also a good way of finding out what they were like. Now, we are much more hesitant, for obvious reasons, about having people in our homes. For this reason, an introduction video, which shows somebody to be friendly, trustworthy and knowledgeable could mean the difference between them securing new business or not.

During this time, many small shops have really come into their own, some offering home deliveries for the first time, while also turning their website into their shop window. Again, some retailers have taken the time to produce videos, introducing the outlet and showing customers around virtually, pointing out new items and special offers. 

Unsurprisingly, the businesses which have been flexible and ready to adapt have been the most successful.
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