2016 Digital Trends

Online and digital technology seems to never stop evolving, and the speed of change can be so relentlessly fast that business owners could easily be forgiven for feeling like the proverbial deer in the headlights, bewildered as one technological advance supersedes another. But if your website plays a crucial role in the success of your business, it is always wise to consult a web design professional on a regular basis, to ensure your website and digital marketing strategy is constantly ahead of the game – or at least ahead of your competitors!

This article looks at a few of the top trends in website design and search engine optimisation for 2016, to give you some guidance on how to keep your business successful online.

Mobile-friendly websites

Since the launch of the first smartphones (2007) and tablets (2010), having a website that is “responsive” and is optimised to display in the best possible way on a variety of mobile devices has become more and more important. This trend continues to grow rapidly in 2016, as there is strong evidence that now over half of web users access content from a mobile device rather than the traditional desktop / laptop PC.

Not only will a mobile-ready website be optimised to display your content/ message perfectly on your customer’s smartphone or tablet, but with Google’s search ranking algorithms now favouring mobile-friendly sites, you will have a greater chance of customers finding you in the first place.

Genuine, quality online content

In the bad old days of SEO, nefarious web developers would use various “blackhat” techniques to get their client’s websites to the top of search engine results. Over-stuffing keywords into online content, creating bogus duplicate webpages and reams of seemingly pointless links on every page may have helped websites achieve good search results, but frequently led to a frustrating, annoying and often baffling experience for normal web users desperately searching for information that they actually wanted or found useful.

Search engines like Google are now very savvy to these dodgy and outdated practices. If your website uses any of these techniques, beware – search engines will spot them and penalise your website, greatly affecting your search ranking.

Online search is thankfully now geared far more in favour of the web user and any successful SEO strategy these days will be based on providing well-written and sharable online content that your customers find useful and relevant.

"Customer-centric web design promotes designers and site owners to envision the customers’ journey through your website and to optimize the site in order to make the journey better"

Safe, secure websites

The potential for hackers to steal or access your customers’ personal or financial details is becoming a growing concern for business owners which depend on a secure e-commerce website. This issue was highlighted several times in 2015 with high-profile security breaches of sites such as Ashley Madison and TalkTalk.

Having a safe and secure website is essential for your customers to feel confident in buying from you online. Expert web designers will use the latest communication protocols on clients’ websites to help protect customer details, and Google will soon start to favour sites which implement these latest developments.

Clean, fast websites

A reputable web developer with a sound understanding of SEO will work to ensure your website looks appealing, but is also designed to be as “clean” as possible. In other words, your site should be free from any unnecessary content, links that don’t go anywhere or that have expired, content or links that mislead the visitor, or any of those dodgy “blackhat” techniques listed above.

A “clean” website that features pages/ content that loads quickly will make for a far more pleasant and rewarding experience for your customers. They will visit your site for longer and more often and consequently, will be more likely to buy from you. Not only that, but search engines also favour faster and cleaner sites in their search results.

Keeping your website and digital marketing strategy up to speed with the latest developments in online technology is not simply some vanity project. It is essential for ensuring that the right sort of customers can find you, before they find your competitors. That they can see your site and marketing messages in the best way possible, on the devices and media they prefer to use.