17 digital trends impacting website design, development and marketing

I have outlined 17 digital trends in 2018 impacting those in web design, web development and online marketing.

This report look at website software, marketplaces, marketing channels, advertising, seo and content.

Website CMS trends

A CMS is a content management system to hold your web pages, words, pictures and files.

Without one, you probably won’t have a website.

WordPress v Wix v Squarespace v Shopify v Weebly

I have selected and analysed what I believe to be the top 5 content management systems that are searched for over the past 5 years.

WordPress dominates the content management system market with Wix, Weebly, SquareSpace and Shopify having steady growth.

Action you could take

Consider having a page on your website that compares and contrasts the main software platforms.

You may favour one platform for ecommerce and one platform for business to business websites.

Also, considering having a page or a resource about switching from Wix and Weebly to your preferred solution.

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Ecommerce CMS Trends

Shopify is the most searched for ecommerce platform when compared to BigCommerce, Woo, SquareSpace and Magento.

Squarespace doesn’t just specialise in ecommerce as they also offer websites for service businesses.

I did a small SquareSpace website a month ago and I really like their block module for creating pages.

Notice the seasonality in interest for SquareSpace; do people return from their Christmas holidays and decide to start a website after Super bowl advertising ?

Action you could take

Start a Shopify store for yourself or company and use it as a case study to show and attract clients.

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Landing Page Software

A landing page is a web page that the user will land on after they click your advertisement.

Landing page software has been fuelled by the low barriers to running social media and Google advertising.

As Google Adwords and pay per click has matured, smart technologists and advertisers figured out how to see products and services.

Unbounce was probably the first solution I noticed 5/6 years ago.

Leadpages took the landing page market by storm 5 years ago however ClickFunnels has seen a dramatic rise in interest since 2014.

For those people and companies tied to WordPress there has been a trend towards developing point and click page builders.

Action you could take

If you want to know more about buying traffic and using landing pages I suggest you read Seth Godin’s free ebook called Knock Knock.

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WordPress page builders

I built my first WordPress site 2 years ago to test out the platform and see what I was missing out on.

I found the Elegant Themes Divi Builder, a drop and drag page builder plugin for WordPress.

But there are many other page builders including Visual Composer (now called WP Bakery), Elementor and Beaver Builder.

Notice the decline in interest of Visual Composer and how the rebranded WP Bakery hasn’t commanded the same interest.

A case study in how rebranding could affect interest in your business.

However WP Bakery claim 2 millions users on their homepage.

I personally found WordPress page builders very time consuming to use and my coding skills are fairly average.

Being active in a few marketing and development groups I’m fairly confident that many web developers use WordPress page builders as one of their go to tools.

Action you could take

Set up a WordPress site and install one of the page builders.

Give a junior staff member this website as a project to maintain or grow.

Teaching and online course CMS trends

John Grant wrote the book, The New Marketing Manifesto, in the early 2000’s and said this decade would be the learning decade.

I have dabbled in creating online training courses with Teachable and Podia to sell to other web professionals.

I also used Vimeo and YouTube to provide video support to customers and demonstrate coding issues to my developers.

The interest in Teachable has grown considerably in the last 2 years; they market the solution very well and the platform is easy to use.

I see online training and courses continuing to grow in the next 5 years.

Action you could take

Get a free Teachable account and put together a small free course for clients.

See how clients react to your training.

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Website DIY Trends

With an abundance of low cost CMS website solutions, many people have bypassed hiring designers and developers and look for website building platform to do it themselves.

Website Builder Trend

A decline in people looking for free websites.

Good for web designers ?

Perhaps an increased in advertising by Wix and GoDaddy promoting their level entry services ?

Not so good for web designers.

To provide some perspective, 84,000 people searches for free website compared to 1.23 million people searching for Wix.

Today’s do it yourself website owners is tomorrow’s paid for client perhaps.

Action you could take

Have content on your website that compares different platforms and an easy path for people to migrate to you.

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Web Designers Trend

Interest in web designers and web developers has removed fairly constant over the past 5 years.

Although an interest in web design has dropped.

Could this be the more educated searcher is looking for front end designers or platform specific developers ?

Action you could take

Ensure you have an extensive portfolio on Behance or your platform of choice; that’s where I found my front end Webflow designer.

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Web Developer v Web Designer

There’s slightly more interest in web developers and web designers.

The 2 search trends are almost identical.

Could this be the end user cannot differentiate between a designer and a developer and searches for both ?

Action you could take

Ask yourself if you are a jack of all trades or master of none.

Offer full service but pick one area of development to specialise in; that’s where higher billings can be achieved.

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Web Development Trends

Are you still handed Photoshop files and chop up PSDs ?

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Web frameworks

Photoshop used to be the starting point for websites before responsive frameworks emerged.

Whilst Bootstrap is the most search front end framework there’s actually more interest in web developers seeking to build web apps or useful solutions with React and Angular.

My website uses Skel; a relatively unknown framework but with plenty of html 5 templates to utilise.

Action you could take

Take a look at; they provide a neat framework with designed html 5 templates and include the Photoshop files.

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In the browser web design tools

Design in the browser works like this.

You design a website with front end tools and the tool creates css and html to be handed over to a web developer or put into a hosted CMS platform.

Adobe Muse

Adobe Muse made an impact on the “design in the browser” market in 2011.

Muse was aimed at traditional graphic designers missing out on web design revenue.

You design with Muse and export to Business Catalyst to host or other web providers.


Webflow is more aimed at front end designers – in house or freelance.

You design in Webflow and either export the code or use the Webflow hosted CMS platform.

I’ve used Webflow on 3 large corporate projects and exported the code for integration with the Adobe Business Catalyst platform.


Invision is aimed more at web agencies and is more of a web prototype tool where you hand off your demo to web developers; who then code.

However Invision did purchase Macaw; bringing Invision closer to Muse and Webflow functionality.

Then there’s Sketch App.

Think of Sketch like Illustrator for designing web apps and websites.

Again design in the browser or app, export the code, hand off to developer.

Finally, there’s Dreamweaver.

Look at the declining interest.

I was going to add in Adobe XD into the chart but Google Trends only lets you compare 5 search terms.

Adobe XD is probably closer to the other in the browser design tools than Dreamweaver.

Dreamweaver used to be a web designer’s main tool to start coding up a website.

Another solution Adobe has dropped the ball on.

Action you could take

Whilst customising a template is quick and profitable there are still clients willing to pay for bespoke web design or a website built from scratch.

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CRM Trends

Salesforce command the greatest interest in the CRM market; customer relationship management.

Or in layman’s terms; the database of your customers information and activity.

The CRM market is very fragmented but I thought a Microsoft CRM would have earned more interest.

Salesforce are very strong; probably catering for the small business (as opposed to the micro up to 5 person business).

Personally, I switched from the Adobe Business Catalyst CRM to Drip CRM about 16 months ago and I am only scratching the surface with their features.

The emerging trend in CRM over the next 5 years will be personalisation.

Check out what Brennan Dunn is doing with Right Message; that’s the direction CRM’s will go.

Action you could take

Try Get Drip; it’s free for the first 100 subscribers.

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Marketing Automation and Integration Trends

For example, a customer orders from me with Paypal and I send them a link to a Google Form.

When they fill in the Google Form, the information they enter is added to their profile on my CRM system and I’m sent an email of the answers they provided.

That’s integration and automation.

You need a plumber to connect a pipe from something like Shopify to a pipe like MailChimp.

These plumbers online are IFTTT, Zapier, One Saas and Microsoft Flow to name a few.

Action you could take

Look at your CMS knowledge base for any Zapier or IFTTT integrations or ask their support desk.

If there’s no information about IFTTT or Zapier you are probably missing out or paying huge API costs.

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Payment processor trends

When you sell products and services online you need a 3rd party to process the payments.

I’ve excluded Paypal searches because it will skew my chart; those interested in Paypal are interested in buying as well as selling.

Interesting to see the peak in Apple Pay in later 2014; but this did not last.

I was working on a Shopify project last month and not one transaction was processing via Apple Pay.

So I asked the client to remove the Apple Pay functionality from their basket and checkout.

I tried to set up Apple Pay with my Capital One Mastercard and Royal Bank of Scotland debit account on my iPhone but these banks were not recognised.

Action you could take

Get an account with Stripe.

I have Harvest connected to my Stripe account so I can easily create an invoice and get paid quickly.

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Social media marketing trends

I’m going to investigate the interest in photography, copy and content marketing.

Stock Photography Trends

I examined some of the major stock photography providers.

  • iStockPhoto
  • Getty Images
  • Pixabay
  • Unsplash
  • Adobe Stock

Again this is another very fragmented market.

I would have included Burst by Shopify and Pexels but I am limited to 5 search comparisons.

An interesting drop in interest in iStockPhoto and the emergence of Adobe Stock and Unsplash.

Action you could take

Find a local professional photographer and one who specialises in the main industries you service.

Give him or her a small photography brief for a project.

Compare the quality of stock versus bespoke photography and the time spent on sourcing both.

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Copy Writing v Content Marketing v Infographics Trend

Websites are unfurnished houses without words and images.

Copywriting was the main furniture of websites until social media moved us towards an image driven world.

Infographics appear to have been popular 4 years ago but now they have the same level of interest as copywriting and content marketing.

So people are still looking for the written word.

Action you could take

Take an article from your website and write down 5 steps and turn it into an Infographic with a Canva templete.

The upload and share the Infographic using or embed the graphic on your page.

Check back in 3 months to see if the graphics was shared or linked to.

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Canva v Adobe Spark v Photoshop

Whilst interest in Photoshop has declined over the past 5 years it is still a more popular tool than Canva and Adobe Spark.

I just ended the Photoshop subscription I’ve had for the last 6 years.

I can’t edit SVG images; Canva can.

With Canva it is much quicker to create social media and website graphics.

Action you could take

Get a free Canva account and create a graphic then create the same graphic in Spark and Photoshop.

Compare quality and time taken.

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Email marketing trends

Email hasn’t really changed in 30 years and remains the main tool for digital marketing.

Whilst Constant Contact was the leading provider in email marketing solutions, MailChimp overtook them around 2015.

Perhaps this is the benefit of their ‘alliance’ with Shopify.

MailChimp could be riding on the tails of Shopify’s growth as the 2 tools integrate seamlessly.

The novice can use Mailchimp, it integrates with most leading content management systems and it has an enterprise level offering for large companies.

The entry level features within Mailchimp ensures an individual or business owner does not need a web designer or web developer to send an email marketing campaign.

Simply use one of their pre-built email design templates, add content, preview, test and send.

However at the other, enterprise, end of the solution, that is where web designers and developers can really shine.

MailChimp have integration options that allow email to be connected with 3rd party CMS databases and website for synchronising email campaigns, managing users, tracking campaign performances, open rates and purchase rates.

I also used Mailchimp in conjunction with a Shopify store.

There is a built in product recommendations module where you insert products suited to those who have previously purchased.

That feature should speed up email marketing content creation.

Yet again the ‘do it yourself’ trend is eating into the web designers territory.

Action you could take

Set up a free MailChimp or Drip account; they are free up to a point.

Create a form, test the form yourself and create a follow up email or form of automation.

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SEO and online advertising trends

Search engine optimisation and online advertising represent the 2 biggest sources of traffic for many websites.

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Seo trends

Organic search traffic is enormous and will continue to be.

Look at this chart coming organic clicks versus paid clicks.

However, there has been a significant increase in searches resulting in no clicks.

This is a result of Google introducing featured snippets that reveal an answer to your question without you clicking on a research result.

Action you could take

Create a piece of long form content around a topic you know very well and see how much organic traffic you can earn in the next 12 months.

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Trends in research and analytical tools

I thought it would be interesting to study the free and paid research tools that are popular amongst digital marketers.

Keyword Planner v Webmaster Tools v Google Analytics

Interest in Google Analytics has dropped over the past 5 years.

Google Analytics helps you track and measure your website performance from nearly every angle.

Google rebranded Webmaster Tools to Search Console a few years ago.

Search Console really is under-rated for website analysis; especially the new version.

I’m very surprised at the low interest in keyword planner; the free Google tool that marketers mistakenly use for organic search volume estimates that’s actually a tool for paid ads.

Action you could take

Try the new version of Search Console.

Open the performance report and look on a page level at your keyword queries over the past 16 months; fascinating.

Ahrefs vs Semrush vs Moz vs Majestic

Looking at the paid research tool, the main players are Moz, Semrush, Ahrefs and Majestic.

In terms of organic traffic, Moz has 3 times more traffic than Semrush and ten times more traffic than Ahrefs and Majestic.

This Google Trends chart reflects the analysis I did in Ahrefs of these 4 companies.

Being a fan and customer of Ahrefs, I thought their growth would be greater.

Action you could take

Pick one tools, they normally offer a free trial, and analyse your own website versus a competitor.

Look for their best ranking keywords; look at the search volume of the top keyword and the estimated traffic to that page.

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SEO vs Adwords Trend

SEO or search engine optimization is the art and skill of ranking web pages near the top of the search engines.

I wanted to compare the interest in SEO/Search Engine Optimization with the interest in Pay Per Click and Adwords – Google’s system for operating online advertising on a pay per click basis.

I like to tell clients that they have 2 options to generate website traffic; the slow option is SEO and the fast option is pay per click advertising.

Interest in PPC and SEO was generally the same until Google revised their data and you can see the spike in SEO interest in 2016.

Action you could take

Don’t focus on one channel; have a blend of SEO, paid advertising, email and social media.

Facebook Advertising v Adwords v Instagram v Shopping Ads Trend

I have taken SEO out of my analysis and looked at paid advertising channels.

  • Facebook Advertising
  • Twitter Advertising
  • Adwords
  • Google Shopping
  • Instagram advertising

Interest in Adwords dwarves Facebook Advertising; but I suppose people looking to advertise on Facebook search and find it on Facebook.

Google Shopping has declined; that surprised me as it’s a powerful advertising solution for ecommerce store.

Although those looking for Google Shopping may find the solution whilst looking for adwords.

Action you could take

Add the Facebook and Google remarketing pixel and try running a remarketing campaign on one platform to measure the actions returning visitors take.

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Marketplace trends

There are 2 marketplaces for web professionals.

Places to sell your products and places to sell your services.

WordPress Marketplaces

Let’s start with places to sell your products.

Web professionals will sell website templates, collections of images, graphics, fonts, icons, video clips and design work such as stationery templates.

Themeforest is the marketplace to sell website templates.

It’s owned by Envato; which is a brand that has a collection of assets catering for different needs.

A decline in interest of ThemeForest and a growth in interest of Creative Market.

I’m surprised by the growth of Creative Market; I thought they only provided font and images but there are more website templates than expected.

Action you could take

You must have at least one asset you could create, offer and sell.

Set up an sellers account on ThemeForest or Creative Market and let me know how you get on.

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Freelance work marketplaces

These are the places some web professionals hope to be hired for projects and tasks.

I have picked out Upwork, Fiverr, Elance, Freelancer and 99Designs as the main marketplaces where people seek web professionals for project work.

Whilst there is a lot of work to be gained in these marketplaces, most web professionals do not like these platforms.

One very interesting development by Fiverr is their purchase of an app called And Co.

And Co is a project management, billing, invoicing, time tracking and expenses app.

I use an alternative solution called Harvest to raise invoices and track time.

Perhaps Fiverr are trying to attract a different audience or move in a different direction.

Action you could take

Download the And Co app; I have; although I still use Harvest.

Data scraping trends

One trend to watch out for is data scraping.

A company or entrepreneur will scrape data from social platforms and create a service solution.

I am seeing many services launched that let you find email addresses of people at companies.

These services are typically used for email cold calling and link building outreach.

Keep an eye on companies such as,,

Action you could take

Go to and enter the name of a person at a company you know and see what information they return.

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Research Methodology

All the data is sourced from the Google Trends website which measures the interest over time for web searches.

Search Location

Even though I am based in the UK I used the United States of America as the search location.

How to read the graphs

As Google explain “The numbers that appear show total searches for a term relative to the total number of searches done on Google over time.

A line trending downward means that a search terms relative popularity is decreasing.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean the total number of searches for that term is decreasing.

It just means its popularity is decreasing compared to other searches.”

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Trends and Interpretation

I trust that my 27 years in all aspects of on and offline marketing allow me to be subjective is this article.

Everything written is open to interpretation or argument.

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