If you’re like us, your inbox is probably full of “2015 Best Of” and “Top 10” lists, and that’s got us in the mood to reflect. As 2015 comes to an end, we take stock of some of the challenges, changes and trends we saw come our way on the World Wide Web.
Challenge – Mobile friendliness as a search ranking signal
In April 2015, Google’s ever-evolving search ranking system started using mobile-friendliness as a factor when providing search results. This means that if your site is not mobile-optimized, it may no longer rank as highly as a site that is mobile-optimized.
Is your website mobile-friendly? Use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test to see if it’s time for you to consider upgrading to a responsive design.
To accommodate this, all of our new site designs are created using responsive design, meaning they are programmed to automatically adjust to be optimally viewed on any device – from smartphone, to tablet, to laptop, to desktop. We also are offering services to make an existing site responsive, if the overall design is still in keeping with today’s design standards.
Change – Social saturation driving switch to direct email
Now that everyone and their grandma (literally) seems to be using social media, it is so highly saturated that it’s hard for anyone to reach their desired audience, no matter the quality of content or how frequently it is posted. With Facebook now so reliant on paid reach, there is a return to direct email as an important marketing tool. Users are now able to subscribe or unsubscribe to their hearts’ content, making it essential to deliver valuable messaging that attracts subscribers.
Find out what your customers and potential customers want to read about, and make sure you are delivering that content. What are the most frequently asked questions from your clients? Can you expand on one and make it into an email article or blog post? Make sure you have a newsletter opt-in and/or subscribe button in a highly-visible place on your website.
(Just make sure you are adhering to the recent Anti-Spam Legislation if you are operating within Canada.)
Top 5 Trends of 2015 – Designing for consumers on the go
Now for the fun part: when we get to put on our fortune teller’s hat and predict what trends we will see continue into 2016. Many of these trends are formed by the fact that Canadians are now spending more time surfing the web on their mobile devices than on the computer (The Toronto Star, January 2015). People are on the go, and don’t have much time or attention for sites that appear out of date.
Without further ado, let’s gaze into the crystal ball…
1. The “Hamburger” Menu
You may be seeing this guy showing up in place of a more traditional side or header navigation. This menu icon usually appears as three horizontal lines near the top of the screen, and it expands when clicked to show the site’s pages.
The trend of creating ample white space – areas free of text or busy graphic elements – has resulted in designs that are clean and easy to navigate. Flat design, with no drop shadow or 3D effect decreases visual distraction, and will be present more so in 2016.
3. The Long (sometimes infinite) Scroll
The days of “above the fold” have gone the way of the dodo. With the popularity of mobile surfing, scrolling has become second nature with the ease of the finger swipe. We may even start to see more horizontal swipe/scrolling action in the New Year as more mobile apps are using this functionality.
4. Hero Images
These are images that take up most of the screen for a highly visual user experience. It is essential that they are of exceptional quality to ensure they are eye-catching and will appear clean and crisp on any device. With retina display that is available on most smart devices, you’re going to want high-quality images.
5. Large Typography
Highly visible headlines, bigger font sizes, and lots of space between lines of text that make for easy readability will continue into 2016.
And lastly, your greatest fortune is the friends you have – in web design. 😉