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One of the reasons we love web design and development is that it is constantly evolving. You could spend several hours each day reading about the latest developments out of London and Silicon Valley and other savvy places and still miss some important trends.
But it pays to stay on top of these trends, because following them. And discerning the genuine trends from the flops is one of the best ways you can go about future proofing your website.
You don’t always need to be an early adopter. In many industries, customers don’t need or expect the latest bells and whistles.
But if you fail to keep up with the times then you run the risk of looking like a dinosaur. To stay relevant, you need to keep your website and brand up to date.
With that in mind, here are our four most important web design and development trends to watch out for next year.
Companies have been scrambling to give customers a personal touch without spending huge sums on labour for years. With automated customer support representatives, chatbots, they are on the road to cracking it.
Many websites have adopted chat functionality, where customers can chat to somebody who is logged in at the office. These can work well, but they are distracting someone from doing something else to add value to the business. And it only works during business hours.
Automated chat systems give customers a 24/7 point of contact. And while they are by no means perfect, some bots can answer frequently asked questions, direct people to pages and help them complete online transactions.
And customers are getting used to this kind of online help. Driven by artificial intelligence, these bots can also collect information about what is important to customers who contact customer support, so they can be improved in the future.
Chatbots have got smarter and smarter in recent years, serving new purposes. One chatbot, Woebot, claims to help users battle depression.
The Facebook Messenger app starts a conversation with users each day, encouraging users to engage with their feelings. In trials the app was found to be twice as effective in combating depression as some other therapies.
But there are limits to what these new chatbots are capable of.
Woebot’s creators are keen to emphasise that their Facebook Messenger AI doesn’t ‘do therapy’ but can help people think about their mood and mental health.
Single-page websites aren’t just for freelancers and side projects. These really simple websites are being used by more and more companies, but there are some issues that you need to watch out for.
Single-page websites kick complicated navigation to the curb, displaying information about your company or project in a nice linear way.
Any navigation links on the single page will just scroll users further down the page, but there is a clear narrative to the content and how people consume it.
The websites load quickly and are ideal for stripped back companies that don’t want to overload customers with lots of information.
Designing single page websites presents some design challenges, and there are questions about how compatible SEO-friendly the websites are. But for small, concise messages – single page websites work very well.
If you are a developer, you will probably have seen progressive website apps trumpeted about for some time now. If you aren’t a developer, then you might have seen some progressive web apps without really realising what it is.
Progressive web apps will change the way that we access information.
They are websites made to look and behave as if they are native applications that you would access on your phone.
Perfect for websites with lots of mobile traffic, progressive web applications go beyond ‘mobile-first’ design and development acting as a hybrid website and app.
As well as looking more like native apps, web apps can send push notifications to users and can be accessed offline – functionality that is perfect for mobile users.
Ericsson predicts that mobile data traffic will increase ten times between 2016 and 2022. As more companies prepare for increases in mobile traffic, progressive web applications will become more and more important.
Here are some examples of good progressive web apps:
According to Cisco, online video will account for more than 80% of all consumer internet traffic by 2020.
Strategic use of video is a fantastic way to engage your audience. Using video on your homepage helps you tell your company story in a compelling way that will convince people to buy from you.
Short, sharp and engaging videos can be enough to encourage action from your customers. Especially when compared to tired stock photographs.
One big trend is to have a video playing in the background of a website homepage, to give people something visually appealing to look at.
But this can cause some website usability issues – it can slow down your website if the videos aren’t optimized correctly.
If you don’t want to invest too much in video, at least commission some professional photographs. Let 2018 be the year that obvious stock photography finally disappears.
At We Are Creation Digital we like to stay on the cutting edge of web-design and development. Get in touch today to discuss a project. Call: 0161 875 2535.