2020 Vision: How tech shapes the future of web design

This was posted on June 21st, 2019
Technology is shaping the future of web design

We are at the point in the twenty-first century when technology has probably invaded everything we do.  The internet is everywhere.  Locating us as we travel. Counting our steps as we run.  Delivering our news to us before we get out of bed.  Still, the internet is nothing without the tech to access it with.  Unless you have found a way to browse in thin air.

As marketers we are aware of this technology.  Companies like Email on Acid have the inbox testing feature designed for to view an email marketing campaign on various handsets before it is sent.  Different technologies render marketing materials in different ways.  So, it stands to reason that, at least in part, the future of web design lies in the tech at the consumer end.

Let’s be frank about this.  Tech is in control here.  A customer will spend their money primarily on the gadgets and gizmos and expect the apps and internet to be optimised for that device.  Not the other way around.  The eight second attention span will still apply.  By that I mean, if your websites aren’t optimised for the brand new fandangleberry, they will bounce to a website that is.

Unless your website is worth throwing £1000’s of device away for of course.

What challenges are coming for the web designers?  How is tech going to shape the future of web design?

Foldable mobile phones

Samsung have often let the way with pioneering mobile technology, and this year has been no different.  The Galaxy Fold is both tablet and smartphone, folding in and out depending upon what it the user wants it for.  Of course, the device already renders websites perfectly, despite going from a slim and sexy handset into a walloping great tablet instantaneously.  The tech literally shapeshifts the future of web design, and its potential.

With other brands already trying to follow up with their own version of the Fold, this tech could present some interesting challenges and goals for web design.  These new devices will provide designers with a new field in UI design.  One that hasn’t yet been fully explored by either web designers or users. 

Tech virtual reality AR VR

VR & AR

You could be forgiven for overlooking virtual and augmented reality.  They are almost exclusively linked to gaming as it stands.  With VR headsets you are able to wander through the frozen or dragon scorched wastes of Skyrim, or drive formula one cars.  Whereas VR creates and entire world AR overlays digital elements to your real world.  It might feel like a novel way to play games, and you might raise an eyebrow at the idea of them shaping the future of web design.

But remember, Xbox, PlayStation and Nintendo were once novel devices to play games on.  Now they pretty much do anything a mobile phone would do.

With the rise of both AR and VR, websites could capitalise on the immersive appeal of this breakthrough technology.  Designing for a surrounding sphere of vision will create new and exciting challenges for the web designers looking to increase website engagement.

Heavier websites 8 second attention span

5G networks

With the internet available almost at the speed of thought, these rapid connections will open doors for web designers to create futuristic mobile designs that can respond.  The expected download speed of 5G networks is in the region of 1 Gbps.  This will change the way we optimise websites for mobiles.

Currently heavier sites struggle to race against that 8 second attention span we worry so much about.  With that, everything has to be stripped and lightened so that interesting and “cool” features have to be reconsidered.  Entire websites have been reconfigured for the expressway of information that the mobile age has thrust upon us.  This means certain interactive features are just not available for mobile users.

The increased speed means that these interactive and stylish elements can once again be incorporated as they can be rendered faster. 

Evolution of tech future web design

The future of web design is smart

As the introduction of this article alludes to, we are learning to co-exist with technology.  In fact, we are almost becoming cyborgs.  Years ago, it was only computers that web designers had to consider.  Then it was mobile phones.  Now it could pretty much be anything.  Like those coffee machines in swanky hotels that have the BBC news website going over the screen.  Thing is, everything is getting smart.

By that I mean things like smart watches.

Smart shoes.  Smart toilets.

Nothing is sacred in the smart revolution.

So, if you are the sort of web designer that is involved with making apps then the rise in smart devices will certainly up the stakes.  The human reliance upon technology has become so enveloping that it has become part of our evolution.  As such smart gadgets are only going to become more prevalent as the fascination with technology grows.

Inevitable web design video

Revolutionary video and animation tools

Let’s flog a dead horse for a moment. 

Did you know videos and animations increase prospect engagement? 

No? 

Then let me direct you to a thousand or so articles that will tell you different.  The thing is, animation and video has become easier with the technology available, as well as the app-based services you can find on the internet.

Video has almost become inevitable with web design recently.  Let’s not forget the prevalence of video on social media.  Social media sites are spending disgusting money to ensure the efficiency of video is entirely optimised.  And now companies like Adobe are making animation easier even for those who have all the tech-savviness of a baby armadillo.

With this sort of tech readily available, web designers of all levels will be making use of eye-catching animation.  With this, more websites will capture that fleeting attention span that we are so used to designing websites for.

Future of web design is anticipated

Wrapping up the future of web design.

Technology will always advance.  We have been worried and excited about it since Mary Shelley penned Frankenstein at the turn of the 19th century.  As always, we will look at the developments made with a mixture of fear and awestruck admiration.  No matter how often we think that technology can’t advance any more, we will be proven wrong.

With such advances, the future of web design is not only assured, but jitterily anticipated.

Think of the scope that technology will always provide web designers with opportunities to advance and create.  What a beautiful mess we will be in trying to build such an interactive future.

If there is anything you wish to add, then please comment below.

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Digital Shakespeares: How to write awesome website copy

This was posted on June 3rd, 2019

To write, or not to write, that is the question.  Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to hire a copywriter for an outrageous fortune.  Or, to take arms against a sea of troubles, and write the website copy yourself.  Awesome website copy doesn’t take Shakespeare.  In fact, such flourishing language would do you more harm than good online.

Do you not remember the pain of GCSE English?

Luckily, in the twenty-first century, people want things simple.  They don’t want to waste the entirety of their eight second attention span trying to translate your point.  With that in mind, perhaps I should have begun this blog another way.

Oh well, it is too late now.

When it comes to building websites, people are more interested in having all the flashes and bangs of brand-new technology than they are writing the copy.  Some people are even convinced that they won’t be read.  I sit in an office with people who are happier to hand the crafting of text over to me than to try their hand.

That is fine by me.  But, if you’re on a budget, or your business is suffering under the crush of industry, then you might not have the resources to outsource.  It might be time to roll up those sleeves and lick the end of your quills.

Here is how to write that awesome website copy.

Awesome website copy inane babble

Write a plan to write

Unless you want your website to read like a stream of inane babble, it is best to start off by knowing what you want to say.  What is the message of your website?  Do you know what point you’re trying to make?

Often the aim of a website is to convince a prospect to invest in your product or service.  However, an unstructured stream of consciousness is not going to achieve that.  You can’t write awesome website copy without knowing what objectives you’re trying to fulfil.

So, plan.

Especially if you have a specific demographic in mind.

Have it printed in front of you so that you can see where everything leads.  Under each page, write a brief sentence describing what this page wants to achieve.  Does it simply want to educate or inform your prospects about your services?  Are you offering free advice?  Is the page intended to bring people onto your mailing list.

By forearming yourself with a plan, you can structure your website for optimal engagement.

Lists aren't memorable

Focus on the benefits

Perhaps, the temptation to write a list of products and their prices is great.  It would be easy to do. It wouldn’t be time consuming.  But it would not be awesome website copy.  You would be creating a list.  Like the one your mum writes before going shopping.

There are two problems with this.

Firstly, lists are boring to read.  One list doesn’t stand out from another.  There is a reason that we carry the shopping list with us when we go to buy our paella ingredients.  Lists just aren’t memorable.

Secondly, writing such a list is all about you. It is all about what your company does.  You need to write your customers into the website. 

Remember, potential digital Shakespeare, your buyer persona is your hero.

If you’re an ecommerce site that intends to sell shoes, you need to remember one important thing. 

You’re not selling shoes.

You’re selling comfort.  Your prospects want a secure fit and striking design.  Shoes can be bought anywhere.  But your shoes?  What benefit is there to your prospect?  As Brian Clark eloquently asserts:  stress benefits, not features.

Awesome website copy is scanable

We like a scannable read from time to time

Now this might seem like it goes against the afore-ranted sermon about lists – but here goes.  You need to make sure your web copy is scannable.  You know, a bit like a list.

But, entirely different.

Big clear punchy headings are useful for leads when they are looking through your website.  Your product or service might offer thirty-gazillion features.  Yet, your prospect might only be interested in one or two of them.

The last thing that you want is for the prospect to have to trawl through reams of text looking for the portion that is relevant.  Lay your awesome website copy out so that, if needs be, your prospect can scroll through to the elements that make them feel all warm and fuzzy.

They might be in the market right now for a service like yours.  They also might have another ten websites to get through whilst they shop around.  It is best to make their job easier for them.

People read blogs scan websites

Awesome website copy isn’t clever

This point is going to hurt to write.  It might even hurt the more creative of you to read.  However, the copy for a website needs to be as simple as possible.

If you’re the sort of writer who wants to inscribe their website with marvellous haikus and alliterative paragraphs written in the iambic pentameter, then your day is going to be long and unproductive.  Your website needs to be direct.  To the point.  Delivered in a nice easy conversational tone.  Getting clever with your prospects will do you no favours.

Says the blogger who began this article butchering Hamlet’s soliloquy.

However, therein marks the difference between a blog and a website.  People read blogs to keep informed about things going on in their industry.  People sip their tea and get involved with the text that a blog provides because it is educational.  The truth echoes our previous point.  People scan websites. 

Think of the last website you read every word of.

Is there one?

Probably not.

Clever language might be a signifier for all that stored up literary potential that you’re harbouring, but it isn’t going to impress someone who just wants to know what your services truly entail.  Furthermore, whilst you’re omitting verbose flowery language from your awesome website copy, you should ensure that you’re removing any complicated jargon.

Especially if your less-savvy prospects aren’t going to understand what your hyper-active-triple-java-core-processor really does for your coffee machine.

Tippex edit by hand highlighters

Re-write that awesome website copy

Do you remember that time when you wrote a website in one sitting and it was perfect? 

I didn’t think you would.  Under the assumption you have undergone some form of education in your life, you will know that you never submit your first draft.

Your website needs to read well and sound good.  So, you are going to have to edit and redraft. 

Print off all your website copy and sit down with it.  Get your highlighters, your red pens, or your Tippex and edit by hand.  The issue with editing on screen is that you end up getting lazy with it.  Your eyes glide over mistakes and you can miss the odd typo or badly phrased sentence.

For the same reason you should also ask a colleague to read through your work.  There might be an issue in your awesome website copy that you didn’t pick up on. 

Restraint stamina website copy

Wrapping it all up

Writing a blog is more enjoyable than the prospect of writing the text for another website.  You can be a little freer with the copy.  The intent is to engage the reader to want to continue going through the article.  Often the blog topics aren’t exactly the sort of thing the next Stephen King would relish crafting.  However, you have a little more licence and can afford some flourish with a blog post.

But that doesn’t mean writing a website is easy.

On the contrary, demonstrating the restraint and patience that it takes to write a website is a difficult skill in itself.  In fact, writing a website is a work of stamina.

And coffee.

Lots of it.

Don’t be disheartened.  Once you are in the rhythm of writing you will cover a lot of ground quickly.  And if you want to have a bit of fun in your first draft – do it.  It might just be the thing that gets you through writing an entire website of copy. 

You can always prune the bush when it is fully grown.

(As far as metaphors go that was bad).

If there is anything you feel I have left out of this article, or something that you wish to add then please don’t hesitate to comment.  It will certainly help anyone else researching this topic.

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5 Signs That You Need A New Website

This was posted on May 17th, 2019
You need a new website

There was a time when you would look at a website and think you were standing in the future.  It couldn’t get better.  You would never need a new website, because this did everything.  Alright, you couldn’t use the phone whilst you were looking at it.  And, you could watch a series of Game of Thrones whilst you waited for it to download anything.

These were the days before LimeWire.

Am I showing my age yet?

Since then our interactions with the internet have reached stratospheric proportions.  We can walk the earth and literally pluck the internet out of the sky.  Those telephone bricks we used to carry around with us have slimmed down, and we spend more time browsing the internet than we do phoning or texting.

So, if your website can be reached from a field, and a foreign country (and probably parts of outer space) surely it will never need renewing.

Will it?

How do you know when you need a new website?

1. My Nan runs faster than your website

Focus.  Are you paying attention?  According to Al Gomez I have your 8-second attention span to beat.  Microsoft said it, so it must be true.

Despite other people telling us that the 8 second attention span is a myth, what it signifies is still applicable.  We have become so reliant on an express delivery system of information and entertainment, that if it isn’t served up to us near-instantaneously, then we search elsewhere.  This is what technology has done to our lifestyle.

And it isn’t only the user that has grown impatient.  Speed affects your rankings with Google.  The biggest search engine will favour the faster websites.  In short, a slow website is seriously damaging to your brand.  It might just be time to admit you need a new website.

Online Technology Evolved

2. Simple website edits are costing too much

When websites were first conceived you would have needed a degree in programming, or to have been fluent in HTML just so you could add a single page to your website.  Way before online technology evolved, it seemed that only horrifically qualified, enigmatic hermits were able to create anything.

Needless to say, things have got a whole lot easier.

To do basic changes to your website in the twenty-first century, there are content management systems that enables anyone to make changes.  If you are having to hard code new content, then you need a new website.

Google is your friend

3.  Google has you listed…somewhere…perhaps

Google is good.  Google is your friend.  Without a shadow of a doubt it is the most used search engine on the internet.  In fact, its name has become the verb synonymous with using a search engine.  We don’t just search.  We google. 

That’s how important it is.

So, if your website is not ranking very highly on Google, then your website is going to need a complete overhaul.  Your SEO is important.  Moreover, if your content is optimised and you are still having the same problem, then it is a nice early sign that you need a new website.

SEO is a sensitive and delicate animal to try and appease.  An out-dated website is unlikely to have the stamina to satiate its voracious appetite.

You need a new website slow

4. It looks rubbish on mobile

By this point in the twenty-first century you would expect this point to be so moot and redundant that we wouldn’t still be writing about it.  However, there are still websites out there that are not optimised for the mobile experience. 

Look at your own site on a mobile.  If just looking at it makes you feel nauseous, brings on a fluid rush of vertigo, or pains you in some way then you need a new website.  Remember the eight second attention span, but also remember the user experience.

If your user has to continually attempt to resize your website on their phone, you need a new one.  If a cassette game on a Commodore 64 loads quicker than your website does on mobile, you need a new one.

Glittering Unicorn

5. It simply looks old and battered

Sometimes the best way to judge whether or not you need a new website, is to just look at it.  Is this a product you are proud of?  I mean, it might be like that bloated sofa in your sitting room.  It just about does its job, and you love the familiarity of it.  But then, if you were to bring someone new to the house you would throw a massive blanket over it. 

It may just be that it no longer fits your brand.  Perhaps, as your industry has evolved, your company has had to move away from the branding your website presents.  There are many reasons why you now cringe at your homepage.  That’s fine, nothing was built to last forever.

Trust yourself, trust your instincts.  Back yourself, and your instincts up with a bit of research.  However, you know your position within your industry better than anyone.

Wrapping up

It is a shame that websites weren’t built to last forever.  We will always need to update or rebuild.  That goes for everyone, whether you are a global conglomerate, or a local business for local people.

But redesigning and building a new website is an exciting time.  It means you can play with your brand, look at new ideas, see what is popular in the industry.  You can bring your brand marching into the twenty-first century with a glittering unicorn of a website.  Believe me, if it improves your user’s experience, it is worth the expense.

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