Composer Theodore Hook once said, “The best way to predict the future is to invent it.”

Web designers and developers are intimately familiar with what it means to invent the future, as they’re often the ones using cutting-edge technology to shape the ways we buy, sell, consume, interact, and communicate.

Inventing the future was a dominant theme in the most recent Crafted Future panel discussion, 2024, On the Radar, as panelists explored the key factors brands and agencies will have to consider when adapting their operating strategies in the fast-approaching new year.

The Crafted Future series shines a light on some of the most important topics surrounding the way developers, marketers, and other creative professionals are shaping the web and the future.

Read on for a brief overview of the most recent panel discussion as well as additional insight into the Crafted Future series, The Webbys, and WP Engine’s role in continuing to educate and uplift the developers who are shaping the future of the web.

2024, On the Radar

In this most recent installment of the Crafted Future series, WP Engine Chief Marketing Officer and and SVP of Marketing Sachin Puri joined a panel of experts to discuss the ways brands and agencies are reimagining their strategies as the Internet continues to change how, where, and with whom we work.

The discussion was moderated by Claire Graves, President of The Webby Awards, and panel members included Kwame Taylor-Hayford, Co-founder of KIN, and Lauren Kushner, CEO at Kettle.

The Internet is ever-changing; platforms are transforming; emerging tech is shifting the digital landscape and how we interact with it. As these factors continue to transform the way we work, the discussion also touched on the nuanced challenges that are redefining digital work in 2024.

AI Amplifies People and Processes

The impact of artificial intelligence on current and future workflows is hard to deny. AI tools really blossomed in 2023, leaving many pioneers on the digital frontier to question how, where, and why they should include AI in their working processes.

“Right now we’re in a new era of experimentation brought on by all the AI tools available to us,” Kushner said, adding that Kettle is using AI to improve processes from an operational standpoint.

“We’re also trying to use these tools to fast-track creative work,” Kushner said “Let AI take care of easy tasks and low-hanging fruit, and free up space for our creative thinkers to do more for our clients.”

While panelists agreed that it was important to harness the power of AI tools now, others noted the importance of continuing to drive discussions about the ethical use of AI.

“I challenge the idea of what AI will be, because it’s already here—we’re living in it,” said KIN’s Taylor-Hayford.

“We’re never going to stop innovation or evolution, and I think—like most people—I don’t really have a dystopian view of the future,” he said. “I think these things are net positive, but we do have to control for and protect for the worst outcomes.”

In terms of an evolving strategy, WP Engine’s Puri took time to address four trends he deemed most likely to affect success in 2024:

  1. Artificial Intelligence: Puri emphasized the importance of learning to collaborate with tools by adopting an “AI and me” mindset (as opposed to an “AI versus me” perspective).
  2. Remote Work: Remote working models are here to stay, and allowing your employees to contribute and be productive from wherever makes sense to them.
  3. Personalized Content: Using emerging technologies, like headless site architecture, to serve up personalized experiences for users will help you cut through the noise and make an impact on your visitors.
  4. Brand Trust: Companies who want to collect any information from their audience—whether it’s a simple email address or their private credit card information—will need to prove they’re responsible enough to be trusted with it.

“The last piece is around trust,” Puri said. “Trust in terms of privacy, and—from the consumer perspective—whether you’re going to be responsible in how you’re using my information as a company.”

Crafted Future: 2024, On the Radar. Moderator Claire Graves introduces the panel participants

The Power of Creative Thinking

Panelists also spoke about the benefits of creative thinking, noting its role as a powerful tool in the agency arsenal. Building teams of creative thinkers allows businesses to find innovative ways to connect the dots between brands and consumers. 

“It’s important to understand how creative thinking can affect so many different aspects of a brand,” said Taylor-Hayford. “It’s not just marketing.” 

“There are so many other areas where the kind of work we do and the creative thinking we bring to the table can be really impactful. So really, it’s about understanding the business of a brand and using your creative thinking to find opportunities to add value.”

Puri took this concept of brands further, highlighting creativity as a vital aspect in the recipe for success.

“Your brand is a promise to a value that lives in the minds of your customers, and that’s what we’re investing in,” said Puri. 

“For example, at WP Engine, we believe that we power the freedom to create online. So, as part of our lifecycle marketing efforts, we’re reimagining how we show up as a brand at any point where a customer interacts with our team.”

Creating Connection in a Disparate Digital Landscape

The discussion focused on the idea that our goal as digital creators is to build connection. 

Whether it’s building trust in your own business or agency with your customers, or finding new ways to tell a customer’s story to uplift their business, creating connection between customers and businesses can be extremely difficult in a noisy digital landscape, and the challenge lies in finding creative solutions to do so. 

“One of the key values of WP Engine has always been Customer Inspired, and it has never been more important than this year,” said Puri. “It’s important to keep reminding yourself that customer success is your success.”

Another important space you’ll have to foster connection is among employees. Especially for those who work in tech, a hybrid work model is here to stay. So, it’s more important than ever to build community among employees, because positive working relationships are necessary to produce the best possible results, both for your business and your clients.

“The remote-first world is working very well for a lot of us,” said Kushner. 

“A part of what’s worked well for Kettle internally is that we’ve spent a lot of time documenting things about our business, how we work, and how we work with our clients over the last couple of years, which has allowed us to facilitate work faster in a remote world,” said Taylor-Hayford.

For agencies and site builders, you have to take time to think about the larger impact of your work on your clients, their businesses, and the communities they are a part of. Only by doing so can you create something that stands the test of time.

“In a lot of what we develop for our clients, we think a lot about: How is this connecting to a community? How is this building community? How is this accelerating a positive impact for a community?” said Taylor-Hayford. 

“Also, how does this endure? You can’t just be a firework or a flash in the pan.”

What is Crafted Future?

Crafted Future is a series of panel discussions presented in partnership by The Webby Awards and WP Engine. The virtual event series explores topics impacting the work of site builders—from the latest design trends and tools to the future potential of headless development to the impact of remote and hybrid work on agencies and site creators.

You can find all the previous Crafted Future discussions, as well as highlights from The Webby Awards and the stories behind nominated site designs on The Webby Awards’ YouTube channel

WP Engine & The Webbys

WP Engine has built a deep relationship with The Webby Awards team, beginning with the inception of Crafted With Code in 2019. Crafted With Code honors a special subset of Webby Award winners and nominees who built their sites on WordPress.

We take a deep dive into the specifics of these projects, providing a behind-the-scenes look at all the work that goes into creating a world-class digital experience.

Check out all the 2023 Crafted With Code projects to see who’s thriving on WordPress, from Elton John to Reese’s Puffs to Gucci to Marvel!

Create the Future on WP Engine

We extend our gratitude to everyone who watches this virtual event and hope the insights shared make you excited about using emerging technologies, leaning into creative thinking, and building community around your business.
For WordPress lovers, make sure to check out WP Engine for a world-class WordPress hosting experience that keeps your sites secure and performant!