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Website Design & Digital Trends for 2014 (Part 1)
Mark Reinholz from Yorkshire digital agency Vital Online Studio discusses the digital and web trends for 2014.
The article added that "mobile also grew to 44 per cent of all online traffic, an increase of 67 per cent on Cyber Monday in 2012, according to online retail figures from IBM”.
So, if ever there has been evidence to consider, at the very least, a responsive approach to a digital strategy, then this is surely it.
I've written previously that design for desktop will eventually move to somewhat of an after-thought. As smartphone technology continues to grow and users become ever more comfortable carrying and, in some cases, speaking to bigger devices so the demand for device ready content will only increase.
2013 was predicted to be the year of smart-wear (think Google Glass), social media monetisation opportunities and, indeed, a year that finally recognised the huge uptake in smartphone usage with an increased demand for the development of responsive website development.
But what exactly did we get and what design trends are waiting around the corner in 2014? As far as wearable technology goes, I simply cannot see Google Glass taking off; there are too many social barriers and negative associations with technology like this. In my view, a smart-watch would come with less scepticism but beyond a fashion accessory, I cannot see the benefits.
Last November, Twitter debuted on the NYSE and within two weeks it was trading well above its offer price of $26; this was in stark contrast to Facebook which traded well below its offer price for a significant period of time.
With Facebook’s share value almost doubling in two months, apparently due to an overhaul of its advertising model, and Twitter reported to be following a similar model many analysts have been quick to ask what areas of business these two will look to pursue beyond display ads to offer value to stakeholders.
I believe that the consumer is the currency and the vast trail of information we leave behind us as we surf the web will ultimately cost us our privacy somewhere down the line.
When you combine Twitter's cookie-based advertising with mobile geo-location information, the opportunities become apparent. It’s no coincidence that Google has jumped on the mobile bandwagon by launching Hummingbird and it will surely only be a matter of time before we see how they monetise this apparently groundbreaking algorithm.
It looks likely that 2013 has provided a foundation for web development in 2014; it is widely thought that the concept of responsive web design will be finally understood and embraced.
2014 will also be the year of the image and video. Social media platforms such as Pinterest and apps like Vine and Snapchat are asking marketeers to rethink their brand delivery and mobile users are embracing video content; as mobile download speeds increase, video optimisation techniques improve and browser limitations are overcome, surfers shouldn’t be surprised to see video replacing static images in the background of a website.
In the past, large background images were a distraction and often not connected to the brand message but background images, and now video, can work as long as they subtly enhance and improve a site’s design and don’t become the main focal point.
Who knows where we’ll be in five years’ time? With the arrival of Hummingbird and speech based information retrieval it may be only a matter of time before websites become more like interactive commercials controlled by speech commands; perhaps the days of the desktop mouse are numbered too?
Emerging technology and digital trends are having an effect on website design. In 2013, web designers cautiously introduced continuous scrolling and flat user interface design and both approaches are expected to flourish in 2014.
Continuous scrolling is no longer offensive and really replicates a mobile experience and the overall experience of using social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, but marketeers must think about the content thoughtfully;
With mobile usage in mind, designers will be encouraged to build simple and flat user interfaces that mimic the Windows 8 and iOS 7 experience. With fewer images and simpler design elements users should experience improved download speeds but there is a potential conflict of interest.
Simple interfaces and continuous scrolling is all well and good but 2014 is expected to be also the year of the image and video so it will be interesting to see how designers bring the two together.
Parallax scrolling and fixed header bars will also be in the mix so marketeers need to think carefully before briefing their developers, but I do think that taking a mobile first approach is probably the best way forward.