At times the digital media industry seems like a revolving door of everchanging trends, new functionality and updated standards that are all must-haves for your latest project. Research attempts can be overwhelming with lengthy blog posts, videos and 140 character tweets with relevant hashtags. To simplify the noise, below is a recap of a few defining trends the AYC Media team will be focusing on as we approach projects in 2015.
1. The Mobile Takeover
In the last 6 months of 2014, internet usage was reported to be higher on mobile devices than on desktop. User actions, including mobile ecommerce shopping or searching for a restaurant on the go, demonstrate consumer behavior being impacted by mobile users. As developers and leaders in the industry, we must plan website structures accordingly.
Google has implemented mobile-friendly badges, identifying responsive and mobile optimized websites in search results. This latest update indicates the importance search engines place on mobile usability and the likelihood it will become a significant ranking factor in website performance. Conversely, sites that generate mobile errors have been penalized by Google in search results. A current focus at AYC Media is how to build better forms for mobile users, simplifying functionality such as ecommerce payments as much as possible. Stay tuned for our solution.
2. Less Clicking, More Scrolling
Effects of increased mobile usage are visible in updates to website structure with responsive design encouraging scalable formats easily converting to all screen sizes. As a result, the industry is developing sites with longer pages, navigable to a user by scrolling rather than clicking. Scrolling on a tablet or mobile device is often preferable to continuously clicking and awaiting a new page to load. Increasing the length of the page should not be confused with stuffing the layout with too much content. The goal is to create a well organized, easily digestible structure with changes in typography to denote a hierarchy of messaging. With varying screen sizes, resolutions and devices, the term ‘above the fold’ is widely viewed as less relevant. With no way to determine where the fold will fall for the majority of website users, understanding the hierarchy of priority with website content is a great planning exercise when considering site structure and scrolling on a particular website page.
3. Responsible Performance
In the age of ordering groceries or a chauffeured SUV to arrive at your doorstep within the hour, it’s no surprise that users expect website pages to load within 4 seconds. Good website developers strive to build faster and more efficient online experiences considering all screen sizes, and the reward is increased user engagement and conversions for client websites. Optimizing a website doesn’t just mean making a large, 2000-pixel website successfully transition to a mobile size; rather, it requires focusing on how and when a site delivers specific code and assets. Among other adjustments, AYC Media developers incorporate Scalable Vector Graphics (SVGs) whenever possible in place of images. These vector graphics maintain their quality at any size in any resolution, ideal for minimizing requests and page load on any device from a mobile phone to a retina desktop screen.
4. Micro Interactions
AYC project meetings often consist of team members breaking down website User Experience (UX) components to microscopic detail, debating the best decision that can be made for users on a particular website page or module. Successful websites are the result of equal consideration to both overall design and details alike. The small details that encourage users to complete a single task, such as sharing a blog post or subscribing to an email list, are micro interactions and while small, their impact is huge. When done well, micro interactions can shape how customers view a brand and increase conversions.
5. Security & Privacy
With websites and apps storing enough personal data to make an FBI background check look miniscule, it’s no surprise online privacy tops the list of user concerns in 2015. Google has indicated that websites with Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) that securely store user information might get a slight boost in rankings. Building websites with SSL technology ensures the most possible secure online experience, encrypting sensitive information including passwords, credit card numbers or financial information. Additionally the server environment where a website is hosted should be protected with firewall security, protecting against malicious attempts to access personal information of website users.