In the past few years, internet has changed drastically, based on customer’s needs as well as technology advancements. Some changes have stayed for a longer period of time, while others have disappeared with the passage of time. Based on a quick glance to a website, you can easily tell if this website has been designed in the 90’s, or very recently. Let’s discuss 15 major trends that have impacted the web:
- Mobile-friendly websites
Initially, you could only access the internet from a desktop computer, but mobile devices like smart phones and tablets took over the web, as they got faster, smarter and more affordable. That’s why web pages had to be designed to fit different screen sizes, which is referred to as mobile-responsive. Nowadays, anyone can easily access the internet on their mobile devices the same way they can on a desktop computer, due to which more than 60% of web traffic is generated from mobile devices.
- Interacting without a mouse
As explained above, many internet surfers use mobile devices with touch functionality to browse internet, without relying on a mouse. So web pages have had to be designed to make interaction simple and effective for those users, thus ensuring that various web pages or specific functions don’t act weird, just because someone is not using a mouse.
- Poor internet connection
Just because we have access to fast internet connection doesn’t mean everyone else does. There is still someone somewhere who is relying on very slow 3G connection to access different websites. It’s important for websites to be designed with the needs of such users in mind, like keeping pages light with graphics, images, using caching mechanism, etc.
- Processor speed is not increasing dramatically
For a number of years, computers were getting faster very quickly, infact speed was doubling every 18 months (as per Moore’s law). This dramatic increase was evident in desktop computers, but is not the same with mobile devices. Users are focusing on different priorities other than just processor speed. People nowadays prefer phones that have a longer battery life and are cost effective. Manufacturers no longer focus on increasing processor speed because it may undermine these factors.
- Different forms of interaction
Modern devices are designed to offer users options as to how they can interact. With a touch device, you need to tap in order to trigger a button. With a mouse, you’ll have to click and a keyboard requires you to press the enter key. Each device is designed with features that allow users to do many other things.
Website designers have to be very careful when thinking about devices used to interact with them. For instance, when a design element reveals content after hovering a mouse, what would it do when the user has a touch screen device? Something to think about and plan around.
- More focus on content
Today’s web pages are created in such a way that they place special emphasis on the content of the page itself, instead of directing the visitor to other web pages via links. So designers are making sure content is interesting, readable, and useful.
- Google rank affects your website’s visibility
Google is giving more importance to the website speed by using it as one of the parameters for its algorithm to rank pages. So your website’s speed will impact your Google page rankings. As you already know, Google’s rank is critical to driving traffic to your website. So if your page loads slower for users, it will also become harder for potential customers to find you.
- Changing privacy laws will demand your compliance
With recent Facebook fiasco, there is more focus on privacy of users and protection of personally identifiable information (PII) – especially as the new internet era invites the potential for private information to be auctioned off by ISPs.
- What information is collected
- How it is stored
- How that data may be used
- More social media platforms have been born
In 2006, the leading social media platform was MySpace. Today, there are other social media platforms that a lot of people prefer most, like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, etc.
Facebook is one of the most popular social sites in use today. 2011 and 2012 were the years of Facebook, during which time its users hit the one billion mark. It was in 2012 that the platform acquired Instagram, whose popularity spread in no time at all.
Businesses are using social media to engage with their users, potential customers, as well as drive more traffic to their website by integrating it with their website and blog pages.
- Competition of Web browsers
At the start of internet, the only available browsers were Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator. These were the only options to choose from. Nowadays, many better browsers have emerged and internet users have a wide range of options to choose from, including Chrome by Google, followed closely by Opera Mini, Microsoft Edge, and Mozilla Firefox among others. Designers need to ensure that any website designed needs to be presentable and visually appealing in all major browsers.
- ‘At a glance’ content
In the beginning, a lot of content was key in providing internet users with the information they needed from the various sites they visited. This has changed so much from the past years, to at a glance content. With shorter attention span and multi-tasking, everyone wants to go over the content on a website as quickly as possible. For e.g., people prefer Infographic instead of long sentences. What they need is a website that is engaging but at the same time one that is very easy to navigate, gives the right level of information in a summarized manner.
- Immersive interaction experience
Customer experience has now become an important factor in web development. Designers think more about how their end users will feel about their website than how their websites look. One of things that make many internet users flock to a website is the experience they get there. There are quite a good number of techniques that come with immersive experience, some of which include animations, transitions, interactive narratives, micro interactions among others.
- Photos took hold of the internet
Photos play an important role in web development these days. It was just the other day that full-bleed photos started gaining popularity. More visual elements are required for one to create a successful website these days. Most of the internet users are attracted to images more than plain content. If you want to attract and engage users on the internet, you have to use quality images together with quality content.
- Emergence of Mobile Apps
In 2010, majority of people had started using their mobile phones to access the internet. This is where the interest for apps came in, since most of these phones could feature apps. Today, apps are the easiest way to access products or services online. Many companies rely on apps to market and sell more of their products and services, and people are downloading these apps every day. Some companies focus more on mobile app users, instead of their website visitors.
- Long scrolling websites
A few years ago, all critical content was displayed above the fold. The most important content on a website was placed at the top sections of the webpage. Since it was easily accessible, there was no need for internet users to scroll in order to find it. This trend gradually shifted to long-scrolling websites, where internet users are required to scroll down actively in order to find content. This kind of design needs to be planned carefully so that it is easy to use and website visitors are able to find relevant information quickly before they give up and jump to another website which suits their needs.
This by no means is an exhaustive list of web trends and will soon become out-of-date with the rapid pace of changes coming almost every day. As technology evolves, we can expect more drastic changes to the web based on users’ demands and needs. This is why we need to stay up to date with the current internet trends and make necessary adjustments that impact the way business is conducted throughout the digital world.
If you are aware of any web trends that are not mentioned here, please share it in the comments below. Thanks.