Digital Trends for 2017

Posted on by jordanhaines

1. More brands going mobile first

If you are a developer, or work in marketing, it must seem like you’re listening to a stuck record. How many times have you listened to a talk or read an article about designing ‘mobile first’? It’s a hot topic and has been for some time.

When industry leaders consistently repeat a message, it finally gets through to clients. We’re finding more clients are asking for a mobile first approach to their website as their knowledge increases about mobile, and the importance in designing a good user experience for smaller screen sizes.

2. Focus on originality and the decline of stock imagery

During 2016 within the web development community there has been an ongoing conversation that all websites are starting to look the same. The same layout, the same text, the same functionality, now while some argue that this is not a bad thing. Because if all websites work roughly the same then it will be easier on users, some are saying that sites are loosing there identity.

This brings us on to photography. Image rich websites now are very popular.  They’re are more engaging for users of our websites, and with the rise in demand for photography came be birth of stock photography websites.

The trouble with this though is that it is quite easy to spot stock photography on a website and the chances are you may have seen the image on another site. we’re finding more frequent requests to use client photography, which we often provide the service for in order to retain brand focus and to provide a breadth of shots suitable for the different online and offline uses required.  By using original photography it allows the company to connect to their user more effectively, and also they will know that no other site will have these images on there site, thus keeping there originality and independence.

3 Online Chat Services

We are spending more and more time in chat programs. This is evident with the rise in popularity of WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. Merge this with customer expectation to have everything on demand thanks to companies like Netflix, Spotify and Uber, we are faced with more consumers that expect everything to be now.

Inline with this, we’ve found a rise in chat programs use to help and support a section of the site. Companies providing providing online services or products are taking advantage of this more than others. When a customer is logged in to the site, all they have to do is click the ‘help now’ button. Once the customer has clicked that button, the customer is able to chat to someone about their issue immediately. They don’t have to make the effort of calling or waiting on hold for 20 minutes listening to loudest most distorted music in the world!

For most customers they have a better overall customer experience. Clicking this one button is effortless, and in my own personal experience, you get your problem solved quicker as well.

Adding online help / chat to your site may seem appealing, but you need a team internally to respond to the questions.  However, there is a half way house.  We can help you evaluate the times of day when useage of your site is heaviest, and just provide online help functionality to appear during those times, when you have a team available to support.  The Internet is a 24 hour living thing, but obviously you need to ensure that you have the ROI for when providing such services.  A staggered approach to growing this area of your business may be the way to begin.

4 Video First World

Lets look back to pre-2014. Google has long been pushing people to have video on their websites as they say it is more engaging. But up take was slow as video was not a good thing to have on mobile based sites as it might use up to much data on peoples mobile phone plans.

Move forward to 2014 when Facebook decided to change its layout and algorithm to put the importance on Video content. People where up in arms about it as it was a change but no one cared that same year when the famous ALS ice bucket challenge came along and then we were all laughing at each others funny video, Video content had become a hit!

Move to 2016, more apps are pushing video content. Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter to name a few. Facebook also ups the game for its video buy allowing its users to broadcast live video from there mobile phone, which proved to be an extremely popular feature. Then WordPress, the most popular CMS, releases a new updated with a new standard theme which allows for video headers on pages and posts.

With services like YouTube and Vimeo available and so simple to use, it’s easier than ever to host video content on your website.  Gone are the days of a person presenting to camera and huge budgets to provide something professional enough for a company to use.  We now see short demo animations with voiceover, time lapse videos to show a build evolve (for an example), cinema 4D, and a combination of it all.  Video is indeed more engaging and more accessible than ever.

We are expecting to see more demand for video content which can be used on websites and social media.  Factor 3 have the team available to support any video creation and useage ideas that you can dream up!

5 Rapid Innovation

The web is a fast evolving beast which if you do not keep up with you can quickly find yourself out of date and well behind everyone. Proactive innovation is one of the best ways to stay competitive in an evolving marketplace. New web technology and ideas need to be assessed, tested more quickly.

A “Fail fast, to succeed faster,” mentality has arisen due to the fact that we can no longer afford to waste time and resources implementing new tools that offer no real value. Some projects will work straight away, others will have significant learning curves and then develop into other implementation.

The ability to go from idea to implementation in a quick time is going to become even more of a factor in 2017. Factor 3 are able to work like, contact us now to see how we can help you.

While Factor 3 does work in a speedy manor implementing ideas, either from suggests we have that we have put to the client or ideas the client have had themselves, we also do not like to waste our clients money on useless technologies. This is why we are always researching new ideas and the new technologies that appear to see if they can help our clients in anyway.

Factor 3 have found that with researching new technologies and keeping an eye on there development we can have a better understanding and also have better suggestions to our clients if we thing something will help them achieve there marketing goals. Nearly every week our developers are trying out or revisiting new technology to see how its progressed and if we can use it in production work. By doing this we have answers to clients when they ask about a certain technology or process they may of herd about, We could also show them examples if needed but if the technology is not ready or main stream we could show them the reasons why.

6 Big, bold type

Clients are finally moving their focus to content which has given the web designers a chance to focus more on typography, which can also be a powerful visual medium, able to create personality, evoke emotion and set tone. As device resolutions become sharper and type becomes more easy to read on-screen.

Factor 3 are expecting to see an increase in over-sized and full screen type which breaks the grid, beautiful, unique, hand-rendered typography with lots of dynamic text. While beautiful rich image sites are not going anywhere anytime soon, and why should they. The ability to use type gives designers / developers another way to make your website stand out.

Using large text and less images is a win win, Less images means your site will load quicker as there is less data to download and we can also scale fonts up and down without losing any sharpness, Its also completely fallback proof. If you have clients that are still using older browsers then with today’s web technologies its possible to serve a slightly different layout to older browsers which means the site does not break and users are still able to ready your content.

7 Complex layouts

Last but not least is a technology that I am very excited about and can not stop telling Seb all about it in the office. CSS Grid Layout, is coming in March 2017.

The new CSS specification will allow us to create much more complex and interesting layouts which are rooted in graphic design principles. This should hopefully get us past the web layout constraints caused by the CSS limitations which have been with us for the past few years.

CSS Grid Layout is seen by many as a route to get away from this “Websites look all the same” movement which is going through the web community at the moment. The true challenge for this new CSS spec like any other new CSS spec is going to understand how it integrates with current web development processes and how well it is with responsive layouts. We will also need to take in to account older browser, there are many people still browsing the web on older devices as they either do not want to upgrade or can not, its important that they can still access the information on a website.

Another key to this technology being a success is to not over use it and try force it on clients and users. Remember the old days of the animated gif or flash, It was everywhere and so much so that people started to hate it. We must only use it when it is right for our clients and not just because its the latest and greatest tool and as developers we want to use it.

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