Kids are going mad for Star Wars, Chelsea are in the bottom half of the table and men with bad hair once again threaten to take over the US presidency. But despite appearances to the contrary, next year is not 1978 but 2016, so we thought we’d look ahead to what the future will mean for online brands…
Instagram and Pinterest have made the web beautiful again after text-based platforms ruined it – people evidently find it easier to point a camera phone and apply a filter than to use proper punctuation and TURN OFF CAPSLOCK!!!
As the web gets more picture-y, sites will increasingly highlight content in rectangular and square ‘cards’ – a bold photographic image, sometimes with a short tagline overlayed, designed to lure the reader into a click – rather than with the tradition headline-and-excerpt teaser.
Adaptable blocks of content in this style also lend themselves to the variety of screen sizes every site must cater for, as well as the clumsy fingers of mobile/tablet users.
Here’s an example, picked completely at random*:
*May or may not be a page from the new Fifteen site currently preparing for launch.
After Microsoft, Apple and Google set the trend for flat, blocky, sans-serif font styles in recent years, designers are moving back towards more creative approaches as new technology lifts some of the restrictions the mobile era ushered in.
Don’t expect to see drop-shadow daubed all over the web like a Goth’s eyeliner or a resurgence of bevelling, but do look out for more imaginative layering, textured backgrounds, brighter colours and quirkier fonts, like this random example**:
**Okay, that’s us again.
For a few years, developers have shied away from big images and videos because, no sooner than broadband sped everything up for us like a new ring road around the web, 3G slowed us down like morning traffic on the first day of heavy snow.
But with connection speeds up on the up again, ‘hero’ images (attention-grabbing full-screen splashes with a simple tagline overlayed), rich animations, cinemagraphs (a posh name for animated GIFs) and auto-playing videos are making a comeback in respectable web design, replacing sliders as the optimum method of putting multiple messages above ‘the fold’.
Just to pick an example out of thin air…***
***Alright, alright, it’s the new Fifteen site again. Last time, I promise.
Brands are increasingly aware that the key to online sales is customer engagement. Some famous names are even ditching their own websites, instead putting all their content on social platforms – Nescafé announced a move to Tumblr in September, for example – where users can instantly interact with it by liking, sharing and commenting.
Products and services will also increasingly be tied to mini-sites and pages where visitors participate in ‘journeys’ or ‘stories’, which is marketing speak for clicking on stuff to make other stuff happen. This site may be taking things to an extreme, making you kick a virtual bottom before you can enter, but the point is that you will kick that virtual bottom and you will remember doing so.
The increasing dominance of paid-for search results, particularly on mobiles where visible results are inevitably more limited (and for some reason the search engines prioritise those sites paying for links over organic results), means that written content is actually becoming less important.
When you are paying for clicks (even if that means paying for them through hard work on your content and page rankings) you want to give visitors engaging content to keep them on your page once they land. Don’t waste that valuable click by bombarding them with reams of text – increasing broadband and mobile data speeds mean images and video can be your friend again when it comes to holding people’s attention and reducing bounce rates.
I’d link to another page on the new Fifteen site to illustrate this point, but you’re already on one that’s got quite a lot of visual content on it. And there’s a photoshopped image of a flying monkey courier coming up, so really it’s not going to get any better than this…
With Amazon upping the ante by introducing same-day delivery in London last month, customers will increasingly expect their items delivered post-haste (as opposed to Post Office haste).
In the race to offer the fastest possible delivery, the big online retailers will soon start promising parcels delivered within the hour by flying monkeys on zero-hour contracts (or perhaps hover drones… we’ll see). If you are still asking your customers to ‘please allow 28 days for delivery’, or indeed anything over 48 hours, you need to up your game and lower your lead time.
And just as customers are expecting shorter delivery times, they also want shorter check-outs. Contactless cards and payments via mobile have made day-to-day purchases quicker as the high street fights back against Electric Avenue. In 2016, online retailers should think about streamlining their ordering process by demanding less information from customers and offering multiple payment options for those who don’t want to be held up filling in credit card numbers when they are expecting a flying monkey delivery at any moment…
Want to keep up with the latest web trends? Get in touch with Fifteen today!