The web never stands still and neither should your site. Even just in the last 12 months there have been some huge changes in the way that people are interacting online, changes that you need to make sure your business is addressing and capitalising on. It goes without saying that your site must work behind the scenes. It must take people where they want to go, it must integrate with your back office systems and it mustn’t crash on different machines. But what about design – what should we all be looking out for this year and implementing on our sites?
The biggest development is the huge growth in mobile and iPad style browsing. Appreciating how people use these devices (and how it differs from a mouse and keyboard) is key to designing a successful site. Expect to see multiple versions of sites catering for each technology. Navigation elements such as buttons are likely to be bigger to fit our podgy fingers and thumbs on touchscreen devices.
Have you heard of f-commerce yet? It’s e-commerce but on Facebook. Big brands such as French Connection and Dove are already at it and it will be fascinating to see how this plays out and how much further Facebook will infiltrate all our lives.
In terms of the pretty stuff, sites are likely to feature bigger graphics and more dynamic content such as videos and animations. With data speeds and devices getting ever faster, what can be achieved without long download times improves every year. You should never slow down your user’s experience with ‘heavy’ content, but there’s a balance to be struck between having content that engages your visitors and keeping it a fast experience. Ovo Energy (http://www.ovoenergy.com) are doing a great job of getting this balance right. Their site shows that you can have dynamic stuff without it getting in the way of functionality.
But whatever the trends are, don’t forget to constantly monitor your site to see what your customers are doing. They’re the ones who will really tell you what you need to do to your site to make it better.