Is Your Website Ready for 2018?
Seems like it was just yesterday that we were asking if your website was still partying like it was 1999. And now, as we round third and head into the final stretch of 2017, it seems as good a time as any to suggest that you re-evaluate how your website is working for your brand. The web evolves at warp speed, and your site needs to keep up if it’s going to continue to provide the optimal experience for your users. The question is, is your website ready for 2018?
We asked the best website authorities we know—our own rock star design and development team–to share their thoughts on the top must-haves for a brand’s website as we head into 2018.
These are their top must-haves in web design for 2018:
1. Pictures with a purpose
We see too many brands spending endless hours laboring over each word of text that goes on their website, only to accompany that text with bland stock photos that are an obvious afterthought. The web is a highly visual platform, so chosen correctly, the images you include can be a powerful opportunity to make an immediate emotional connection with your audience.
Images are usually the first thing your site visitors notice, so here’s your initial chance to tell them who your brand is, and what it’s all about. Choose the same old stock photography they’ve likely seen before, and you might be telling them that you’re no different than everyone else. But show them unique and authentic images that truly represent your brand, and you’ll convey your voice before you say a word. Even more than the textual content of a site, photos offer you the chance to humanize your brand, and control the emotions your site generates.
If a picture is worth 1,000 words, what’s the value of a video?
Researchers have found that before reading a single word of text, 60% of visitors to a website will watch a video if one is available. It’s understandable—in this age of almost limitless amounts of information and very limited attention spans, users are always seeking the fastest and most entertaining way to get the information they need. Video delivers one of the easiest and most effective ways to engage a site visitor, and represents another opportunity to forge that authentic, emotional connection with your audience.
If that’s not enough, search engines like video, too. By increasing the amount of time a visitor spends on your site, embedded video helps improve your site’s rank in search results. Sites with video generally tend to have higher click-through, engagement and conversion rates.
3. Micro Animations
In the words of Walt Disney, “there is no magic in the magic, it’s all in the details.”
While he probably wasn’t talking about micro animations in web design, he may as well have been. These small, purposeful animations that assist users in a single task on your website aren’t critical to the functionality of the site, but they sure do make it more interesting. Tastefully designed and used strategically, these tiny moments, like a check mark that appears when a form has been submitted, or a button that wiggles when it comes into view, will draw your user in and make the time they spend on your site that much more engaging.
Alas, you can have too much of a good thing, and in 2018, less is more when it comes to incorporating micro animations into your web design. Overdo it with unnecessary bells and whistles and instead of enriching the user experience, you’ll end up overcomplicating it, and probably chasing your user away.
4. Ways to convert
Your site looks great, draws your audience in…and then what? Making conversion easy on your website seems like a no-brainer, but you’d be amazed how many brands forget to offer the user an obvious way to register, request more information or otherwise seal the deal.
Current trends in web design make including an effective call-to-action both seamless and simple. Strong headlines and compelling graphics are a good start. Incorporating graphical callouts, like arrows, circles, pull quotes or boxes, and sticky banner callouts that are fixed to the top or bottom of your page, are also must-have tools to further highlight particular content, or direct your users’ focus where you want it.
And contrary to what you might have heard, the contact form is still alive and well as one of the best ways to convert a visitor. To make sure it’s ready for 2018, your brand’s contact form should be simple, short and bearing the same look and feel as the rest of your website.
We never cease to be amazed at the sites we come across in that latter part of 2017 that are still not optimized for performance on mobile devices.
You don’t have to go far to realize we are living in a mobile-first culture where users are increasingly captivated by their smartphones and tablets. Mobile traffic is currently responsible for 53% of internet traffic, up from 42% just a year ago.
Chances are, the overwhelming majority of your audience is visiting your site via a mobile device, so why wouldn’t you want to provide them with the usability and functionality they expect to find when they get there? If that’s not enough reason to go responsive with your web design, Google has made it clear that it prioritizes mobile-friendly websites in search results. And when Google talks, we listen.
In 2015, Google announced that it was giving brands the opportunity to AMP their websites. AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) is a content delivery network that helps pages load at lightning fast speed on mobile devices. It not only provides site visitors with a great user experience but helps push your site to the head of the class in Google search rankings.
Responsive design in 2018 means faster page loading time, speedy navigation and mobile-compatible usability. Your page needs to look great no matter how your audience reaches it.
Have you noticed that some sites are HTTP and others are HTTPS? The ‘S’ doesn’t stand for safety, but it might as well. HTTPS sites feature the SSL, or Secure Sockets Layer, which is a way to encrypt information that is exchanged between a browser and a web server. In a nutshell, the ‘S’ is what protects your site’s users from a hacker who tries to steal their private information, like a credit card number or password.
Google, which aims to provide its users with the best possible experience, favors sites in search results that feature these encrypted connections so that any information exchanged by their users is secure. What’s more, as news emerges of Google’s intention to label sites without SSL as ‘Not Secure’ in the near future, the switch to include SSL will go immediately from a luxury to a necessity for any brand. Currently, more than 30% of sites which appear in the first page of Google results are HTTPS, and this number will only increase as we head into 2018.
Is Your Website Ready for 2018?
There’s no time like the present to make sure your website is keeping up with the ever-changing digital landscape. Let the Colts Neck, NJ-based CMDS team put the latest trends in web design into action for your brand to ensure that you’re ready for 2018 and into the future.