By anyone’s standards, 2016 was an extraordinary year. From a web designer’s point of view, it has been interesting to note how the online world has had such a significant influence on the seismic geopolitical and cultural shifts that have occurred. From Donald Trump’s late night tweets, to online activism through social media, to the growth in fake news, the power of digital communication has been extraordinary. Proof, if any were needed, that in 2017, your brand’s presence online is more important than ever.

As we ease ourselves into the New Year, we take a quick look at some of the developments and trends in online technology and web design, and how they might affect your business now and into the future.

Telling your story with web design

The explosion of mobile technology over the last decade has transformed how we explore the online world. Where we once pointed, clicked and dragged with a mouse, we now pinch and swipe with our fingers, scrolling down a webpage with a simple sweep of a finger. This trend for Long Scrolling becomes ever more essential as more of your customers visit your website via a smartphone.
The move towards long scrolling web designs also allows you to take a more narrative approach to communicating with your customers. Where previously visitors would have to click between several pages to get the information they needed, a modern website will allow you to effectively tell a complete “story” as the visitor gradually swipes their way down the screen. Each stage of this “story” can be clearly signposted with distinct design/ graphics.

Minimalistic Design for User Experience (UX Design)

It has been said a thousand times before, that less is more. Yet, sadly, there are still many web designers that continue to ignore this advice; cramming their websites full of unnecessary graphics, gimmicks, too many buttons to click on and far too much information to take in. Their poor clients end up with slow unattractive websites that confuse and repel customers with cluttered messy content.

In 2017, the professional web developer knows the importance of building space into their website designs; removing any unnecessary visual clutter, gimmicks and excessive text. Using clear appealing graphics and text, visitors to the site are not bombarded by an information overload, but enjoy an intuitive experience, where A clearly and cleanly leads to B. The client’s sales message is concise and easy to understand, and purchasing a product online or enquiring about a service could not be more straightforward.

Dynamic and animated web design

In 2014, Google launched its innovative Material Design language. This new development allows web developers to incorporate animation and 3D visual effects into the design of websites without needing to use animated gif files and flash plug-ins which can slow websites down. The less-talented web designer will be tempted to overuse this technology, animating every single aspect of a webpage, and every single piece of information set with a drop shadow effect – creating an ugly, confusing and irritating experience for the web user. A more respected and experienced web designer on the other hand, will use this powerful new tool with care and wisdom: creating an engaging and dynamic web experience for your customers, but without sacrificing the aesthetic design of a good website or clarity of your communication.

Getting chatty with your customers

A “chatbot” is a program which effectively has a conversation, either by text or spoken, with a customer. Incorporating a chatbot function on your website can allow you to provide a virtual customer service to online visitors 24/7, answering questions about products, advising them which services may be best suited to them, or even arranging a meeting with one of your staff. A chatbot can also be part of your social media marketing strategy, posting relevant content on your behalf or responding to your followers.

Of course the idea of an artificial intelligence effectively speaking on behalf of your company is a scary one. We can all recall times when there have been misunderstandings and miscommunication in emails and tweets between two human beings – communicating with a chatbot could also run the risk of winding customers up the wrong way. As this technology continues to develop, web designers will need to work closely with copywriters to ensure that chatbots communicate with the same sense of friendly professionalism we would demand from a real human member of staff.

Your company website, built for the future

The trends described above only scratch the surface of what tomorrow’s online business environment might look like. As Virtual Reality (VR) technology has now made its way into ordinary high-street stores, how might this affect how we browse the web? And as we get more and more accustomed to responding to online content with a “like” or an emoji, how will our hunger for such micro-interactions affect how your company website is designed and built?

Web technology is constantly evolving; sometimes changing customer behaviour, sometimes responding to it. Talk to our professional web designers and digital marketing experts to see how your business can benefit from the best of today’s cutting-edge technology.