Don’t shoot your web firm!

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What to do when website design keeps shifting

We’re all familiar now with the ObamaCare website debacle. Rather scary. But the latest changes in web design may prove to be just as scary for businesses and nonprofits. In this past year alone, we have seen more shifts in web design than any other year previously.

A look back at 5 major shifts in web design this year

1) Responsive design
From the latter part of 2012 and the beginning of 2013, the trend was to have a website that was responsive — meaning optimized for mobile. This meant that a website was “hip” if it could also work well on smartphones and tablets. But during just a few short months of the year, “hip” turned to critical. As the rise of searches on mobile devices are around 50%, if a website doesn’t play nice with those devices we hold dear to our person, then people will quickly move on to a website that does.

2) Large images
Huge photos or background images became quite popular this year. As we see the rise of everything visual from infographics to videos, large imagery on websites has become commonplace.

3) Flat design
Minimal design which removes clutter and dimension is quite the rage right now. That means you’re seeing fewer shadows and 3D elements, especially with the UI (user interface), such as nav buttons. Windows 8 is a great example of this, with the flat boxes of color and simple icons. (Speaking of flat design, did you notice that Google just changed their logo from 3D and shadowed, to flat letters?)

4) Parallax scrolling
Next this year came the parallax scrolling fad. We’re calling this a “fad” because it is more for aesthetics than it is functional. It’s a very cool effect of having elements scroll at different rates. It’s used more often for B2C rather than B2B websites.

5) One long, scrolling webpage
Now we’re on to the next fad in 2013: single-page, long, scrolling websites (which, by the way does include many of the above items). It is rich with large images. Navigation doesn’t take you to a new page, it just scrolls down to a particular part of the long web page. Whereas just a couple of years ago it was taboo to have items “below the fold” on your home page, now just the opposite is becoming the norm…long, scrollable home pages. Depending on the amount of information needed on a website, this trend isn’t necessarily a good fit for many B2B websites.

And the year isn’t over! At ECI, we believe all of these trends stem from the necessity of websites being optimized for mobile devices. It’s easier to keep scrolling with your finger on an iPhone or tablet to see more information, and to select large, simple buttons or swipe photos.

So what’s a business owner to do when technology and web trends are changing every few months?

Five major shifts in website design in one year. How is an organization supposed to keep up with this? Years ago, we were telling companies to change their websites after 5 years, then a couple of years ago, we recommended redoing websites every 3 years to keep up. Now, technology has forced organizations to deliberate a major website change every 12 months. Here are the items to consider:

1) First and foremost, if you don’t have a responsive website NOW, you are definitely missing out on prospective business. People are quick to leave sites that are not optimized for mobile. Contact us today to discuss options for a mobile solution.

2) See what your competitors’ websites look like on your smartphone. If their website is responsive, they are leaving you in the dust.

3) Blaming your web firm for changing technology is like “shooting the messenger.” Nobody holds a crystal ball. Of course, you probably spent good money to get a decent website. Yet, even if your website is only a year or two old, unfortunately, it probably isn’t optimized for mobile. Now is the time to fix that.

4) Understand that SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and the rules on how to play the game are constantly changing. Seriously — even the SEO experts aren’t in agreement as to the best strategy — it’s more of a trial and error approach. Yes, blogs continue to be at the top of the list to get your website seen. But the biggest frustration this quarter is that Google has turned the SEO cart upside down. Previously, webmasters and business owners could see what keywords people used to search in order to find their website…which was very valuable information. Now, if you don’t pay to play, you don’t rank. Here’s a good article we found to explain.

Why we’re a great business partner
Keep in mind that ECI is a creative communications firm, not a “web firm.” This is to your benefit: we are trained to uphold the integrity of your brand no matter what medium is used and what the latest is in technology. How should your brand look on a smartphone? What will happen when iWatches are popular? What if down the road I want an ad to be played on Google Glass? We keep up with everything so you don’t have to. Remember: at ECI, we’re designing the future of your business.

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