Everything from sophisticated business automation platforms, to robust email clients, to complex ecommerce platforms leverage web application development to provide powerful software to the world in real-time.
At Icreon, web development forms a cornerstone of our business technology practice. We use technologies like Java, PHP, .NET & Python to build scalable, enterprise-grade software that stands up to rigorous use across a variety of verticals.
Websites are often the lifeblood of an organization. Marketing a brand online, setting up an eCommerce operation, and publishing news and other content via blogs are critical strategies for businesses today. The various functions and capabilities of a website are often tied to the perception of a brand.
Reaching the right customers through optimized content, and immersing visitors with effective web design techniques allow for many businesses to differentiate themselves from competitors (and garner increased market share). But when a website lags behind in terms of trending technologies and approaches to web development, the increasingly tech-savvy consumer will negatively judge a brand by their website.
In the same way that retailers and restaurant chains strategically assess and carefully implement updates to physical locations, brands should hold their websites to the same scrutiny and attention to detail. If you’re wondering whether or not your own website is meeting the expectations of today’s digital consumer, the following list will help you assess a website and decide if it’s time for a redesign or complete rebuild.
Mobile devices are the new standard when it comes to computing. We are officially in the Post-PC era when it comes to the device of choice for consumers. In fact, 25% of all web traffic in the world came from a smartphone or tablet (which means brands must optimize their websites for mobile users).
Not only do websites need to be optimized for mobile device screen sizes, but they must also attend to touchscreens and finger-tips rather than a mouse click. Buttons, content, and other user interface features must adapt to smartphones and tablets. If not, consumers will encounter a clunky mobile version of a site and cancel their purchase.
Responsive web design (RWD) is an approach to web design that adapts page elements for specific devices. RWD can allow for one website that optimizes itself for tablets, smartphones, and PCs accordingly. Leading to open access for potential customers regardless of the device they use to surf the web.
Load times are more important than ever when it comes to reaching consumers online. Some studies have gone to pinpoint how each additional second of load time can reduce online sales by 7%. Given that many consumers are spending hours a day with light-weight speedy mobile apps, that expectation regarding responsiveness and quality will carry over to websites whether brands like it or not.
To counteract this problem, brands must consult with web development teams to discover what aspects of a website are holding it back from optimal performance. Is it poor code? Are images and video files bulking down the site? There are countless factors that come into play. Brands should also reach out to their web hosting provider to assess bandwidth usage and potential solutions.
Studies have shown that visitors will judge a website within 6 seconds of seeing the homepage. This reality drives home the importance of compelling and immersive web design. Web design evolves at a tremendous rate, meaning that talented designers who position themselves at the crest of innovation are necessary to stand out in today’s increasingly digital landscape.
A recent Nielsen study found that the average American spends around 60 hours every week on a digital device. This adds up to a consumer base that is increasingly perceptive when it comes to critiquing digital experiences (specifically when it comes to the redesign of a website or mobile app). Mobile apps have also added to the pace of progress in web design.
Catering to touchscreens has resulted in the proliferation of flat design on many websites. Often times when the technical features of a competitors site are equal to your own, design elements can serve as a final factor in communicating the spirit of a brand.
Humans, for the most part, are visual learners. Many studies have shown that visual messaging can supplement written content and increase engagement with a page. Specifically for eCommerce operations presenting products to consumers, images and high quality visuals are the gateway to finalizing transactions.
Amazon has a great feature for HD zooming on products. Users can zoom in and closely inspect a product as if they were holding it up to their eye. Any way that a brand can bridge the gap between physical inspection of a product online will immerse the user and increase the likelihood of a transaction.
Strategic use of graphics can also amplify the impact of web content. Specified visuals that help drive home the idea of an article, or the call to action on a landing page, are central to today’s web experiences. Another aspect of visuals to consider is the physical size of the files on a site. Clunky images can have a direct impact on load times and usability of a page.
Written content is still critical despite the popularity of YouTube, Vine, and Instagram. Text must be adapted for the age of mobile users. Screen sizes are smaller and touchscreens have replaced the mouse. In the same way that graphics and icons have changed in response to finger-tips, written content must take into account mobile users.
Larger text, the use of sub-sections, and shorter more focused content writing is central for today’s websites. Not only does the written content detail a company’s services and products, it can also serve as a channel to distributes calls to actions (such as singing up for a whitepaper, or filling out a contact form).
Content, when used strategically, can help funnel potential customers towards reaching a touch point or finalizing a transaction.
The web has evolved, and establishing a brand online has changed with it. Design trends and web development techniques are in the midst of a profound renaissance. And this period of change and progress is directly related to the world's smartphone and tablet obsession.
With an expanding variety of device types and mobile operating systems (OS) web teams are being forced to adapt content, visual aesthetics, and user interface features. Not to mention the millions of apps on the market consuming hours of people's time everyday.
Brands hoping to reach customers must provide high end web experiences. Not only does a website have to communicate a brand's mission, culture and attitude in a consistent fashion, but the technical aspects incorporated into a site serve to further exemplify a brand’s commitment to excellence.
Ideally, a website should serve as a central customer hub. But without strategic approaches and use of present day web development trends, a website will not accomplish its goal of engaging with customers and increasing revenue.
A new smartphone or tablet is seemingly released every 48 hours. And the differing devices come with varying OS types, screen sizes, and device specific features to make use of. As a result the process of building a website needs to begin before any code is conceptualized.
The best way to optimize the success of a web development project is to diligently assess how potential and existing customers browse the Internet. Are the majority of visitors to an existing site Android or Apple users? What is the breakdown of tablet, smartphone, and PC traffic?
Establishing a detailed understanding of the audience’s existing interaction with a brand’s website, allows for a clear road-map to optimize widespread access to the site. For eCommerce websites especially, deciding upon the right devices to optimize for can be the difference between a profitable month or a loss.
If a customer cannot access a brand’s website from the device they’re using (or if the experience is sub-par), a sale is lost before an interaction can even begin.
In the past, developers and programmers would remain behind the scenes while designers focused on user interface (UI) issues and aesthetics after the fact. For today's customers, strategically built websites must excel at delivery for both front end users and back end processes.
When developers design UI, they're thinking from a quantitative code-based mindset. If the information is on the screen, no matter how cluttered, its usually fine for a developer who spends hours reading lines of code or analyzing hundreds of rows and columns in spreadsheets.
But for a salesmen who has a specified workflow and business environment that is a completely different world to that of an engineer, the UI can make the software unusable. Designing for a specific end-user is even more important for websites used for conducting business.
If a site does not deliver adequate experience that meet a target demographics expectations, the ability for it to increase conversions and transactions is reduced. For brands to appeal to customers who spend over 60 hours per week on digital devices, their digital experiences must stand out.
Especially when it comes to UI features and rapid load times, websites must offer something as immersive as the mobile apps that capture the attention of users. In order to build engagement through a website, attention to the front end user and well executed back end work is crucial.
No longer can the two teams work in their personal silos with minimal collaboration.
Following the collaboration between design and development teams, the incorporation of immersive high-end content is crucial for today's websites. Mobile device users for instance spend more time with well designed mobile content in apps than they do in a browser. This is a definite sign that the fluid nature and usability of apps are outpacing that of websites.
With HTML5 and other trends in web development, brands can create immersive content experiences that draw in an audience. Parallax scrolling, canvas enabled backgrounds, and powerful cloud hosted applications are staples of next-generation websites.
Incorporating an infinite scroll webpage dedicated to a case study or a page detailing a mission or profiling executives, can help brands strongly engage with customers. This reflects the appetite of many users in regards to well-crafted digital experiences. Designers and developers must consider the intended content experiences on a site during the development phases of a website, to achieve the seamless usability found in mobile apps.
By knowing what content will be incorporated, developers and designers can build a site around a clearly defined web content strategy. Defining a road-map for content on the website will lead to a more cohesive web experience overall.
Building a website in today's tech savvy world hasn't gotten any easier. But by following the aforementioned strategies a brand can develop a site that pries a customers attention away from their mobile apps. Despite widespread consensus that we officially live in a Post-PC era, a website still holds value for businesses aiming to connect with new customers and maintain the loyalty of existing ones.
To drive brand engagement from a website in a world consumed by apps, brands must adapt their approaches to web development for a more discerning customer.
According to Connie Guglielmo at Forbes, "demand for mobile computing, cloud services, big data analytics and social networking together will drive a 5% jump in worldwide spending on IT to $2.1 trillion in 2014". Prevalence of social media and cloud technology combined with the proliferation of smart mobile devices have profoundly altered consumer expectations regarding web experiences.
Well beyond the point of trending buzzwords, mobile, cloud and social are becoming legitimate revenue drivers. Businesses across the globe are infusing digital marketing, enterprise applications and customer support strategies with these three technologies. To assist you in optimizing the incorporation of these trends, Icreon Tech’s web development team has assembled a breakdown of how social, mobile and cloud technology is changing web development.
A social media strategy is essential for all organizations. With over a billion users, online social networks are the new go-to places for advice on what to buy, where to buy and even where to work. While most industries use social media for connecting with customers, many have now invested in using social media for sales and marketing.
The lure of ads, feeds and contests in social media channels are making Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn an ideal place for marketing. When it comes to Facebook and Twitter, B2C companies are ideal. While LinkedIn, being a professional social networking site, is ideal for B2B. These sites are a daily destination for millions of consumers who spend an average of 37 minutes per day on these channels.
This results in millions of eyeballs for every ad or sponsored update. Incorporating social media into a web strategy is crucial. Content Management Systems (CMS) are necessary for fluid updating and creation of content. With an easier way to publish intriguing content on a website, the more likely a brand is to drive referrals from social media by sharing that content.
By driving referrals from social networks with interesting content created by a CMS on a brands website, businesses can embrace social and drive lead generation, referral traffic, and revenue. Businesses in the future need to integrate their social media efforts with their web development strategies and commit the necessary time and resources needed for ROI.
Mobile websites rather than desktop sites will now be boilerplate for companies in 2014. The goal for many companies should be to design mobile websites with Responsive Web Design (RWD) that are uncomplicated, simple to use and easy to navigate. The User Experience (UX) goals are especially important when it comes to smartphone users accessing a site from anywhere and any context.
The more complex a mobile site, the more likely consumers will be to disregard it and move on to simpler more navigable sites. Remember that 88% of U.S. consumers use mobile as a second screen while shopping. It is essential that mobile websites aren't overloaded with useless functionality. Ideally a brand's mobile app will augment the in-store shopping experience or help immerse a physical shopper in the in-store experience.
The goal for many companies should be to design mobile sites that are simple to use and navigate on multiple platforms. For instance, with HTML5 developers can create HTML5 web applications that are accessible from a desktop, smartphone or tablet. This stands in contrast to developing native apps that only work on a single device (built on iOS, Android, or Windows 8).
Cloud computing has advanced into a powerful business tool for both global enterprises and small businesses alike. According to Gartner, the cloud is changing the way web applications are designed, tested and deployed, resulting in a significant shift in application development priorities. It has and will become an effective new technology for building applications that reach new markets as well as empower workers to streamline operations.
The cloud is being used for a multitude of web development efforts and businesses are using the cloud to host web applications available for customers and employees. Data can be stored on the cloud using a web application, avoiding any unnecessary load on hardware. Employees can open a web application on any device (tablet, PC, or smartphone). There are also options to store information from reports and emails offline within a browser using HTML5.
A recent Forrester survey confirms that 55% of firms are considering private cloud as a top infrastructure priority and that 31% plan to adopt public cloud in the form of Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) in the coming year.
When it comes to web development in 2014, the majority trends will be driven by opportunity in social, mobile, and cloud technologies. Integration and confluence of these technologies will form the bedrock of future solutions and approaches to websites and web applications. These supplementary web technologies will provide businesses with multiple options for connecting with target markets and engaging with customers online.
For the first time ever, mobile device users are spending more time within apps than surfing the web. The high speed performance and superb design of today’s leading mobile apps are attracting attention and increasing expectations when it comes to digital experiences.
Customers are spending more time than ever interacting with software and web applications, and the resulting impact on how a business approaches web design is undeniable. Traditional header menus are disappearing in favor of side drawer menus. Icons are getting larger, and visuals and graphics are becoming flatter.
All of these trends in web development are directly inspired by mobile developers. Web design teams that are aiming to build websites that appeal to today's tech-savvy consumer base, should attempt to emulate the look and feel of mobile apps.
One of the best ways to make a website feel like an app on a mobile device, and even on a desktop, is responsive web design (RWD). Regardless of the device type used to access a website built with RWD, the site will actually adapt to the screen size. With RWD in place a website’s content and visuals will appear consistent.
Brand's aiming to represent themselves on the web in the best way possible, should focus heavily on providing consistent and quality web experiences. Attending to touch screen users is crucial. Graphics and icons should attempt to find a balance between desktop users and mobile users.
When the window re-sizes thanks to RWD, the graphics and icons must fit as well. App features such as the commonly used sidebar menu can slide out from the left side of a window. Drop-down menus that fit inconspicuously in the corner of a web page can allow for increased room for content.
Mobile developers are masters of strategic utilization of screen real estate, given the limitations compared to traditional web developers. Web development teams and business leaders should undoubtedly look to trends in app development when attempting to reinvigorate their web presence.
When it comes to apps, the speed and lightweight file size make them ideal for constant access. The memory consumed does not stress the device, making for an enjoyable and seamless experience. When it comes to websites, slow load times and clunky loading are a sales killer.
Every extra second it takes for a website to low will negatively impact a business. Users need instant gratification. So a website that takes more than 7 seconds to load will force users to leave (and visit a competitor's faster, more well designed website).
Research firm StrangeLoop, breaks it down to the point that every extra second it takes a website to load will reduce conversions by 7%. With such high stakes involved with an effective web presence and the bottom line, businesses must stress the importance of high performing websites that are comparable to apps in terms of performance.
While development and design of a website are crucial to performance, the web hosting provider is where a business should also focus attention.
A recent Nielsen poll found that the average American spends over 60 hours per week on a digital device. At this point in time, the average customer is incredibly discerning when it comes to software, apps, and websites. As a result of our increasingly tech-savvy and mobile driven lives, brands must revamp their web presence for today’s mobile audiences.