Website Design for the Ultra-Connected Customer

If you want to reach your online consumers, it is no longer enough to simply have a website. Nowadays the public are craving more engaging content which is easy to use and can be accessed across a number of devices. Ignore this audience and you could be in big trouble.

In the past few years the art of reaching your customers through the web has changed. As we journey into the digital era, we have seen a rise in the ultra-connected customer; people using multiple devices, multiple times a day and who are ultra-connected and addressable via social media. People are no longer willing to search tirelessly to find information about your business, nor are they willing to wait for you to get up to speed with the new rules of web.

The bottom line is, if a consumer can easily find what they are looking for with another company, they will. In this post, we will look at the new trends of web design in 2013 to help improve your website’s effectiveness by tapping into the minds of today’s ultra-connected customer.

Responsive Design

2013 has been deemed ‘the year of responsive web design’ and with the sale of mobile devices now surpassing those of laptops and PC’s easy to see why being available across a number of devices has never been more relevant. Simply put, a responsive website is a site that will respond to the screen size and resolution of different devices, platforms and browsers.

It’s about having a single website which is able to react and adjust to its environment without the need to invest in a number of sites and/or applications for each device. But why should your website be available across all of these devices? If you have a site already chances are mobile users are already trying to access it, however in order to consume your content these users are likely to be putting up with slow download speeds, tirelessly pinching in and out of their screens to read text and tolerating small icons and links impossible to click.

For a mobile user, this is deemed unacceptable with 61% of customers admitting they are likely to go to a competitor site after visiting a mobile unfriendly site. Adopting a responsive design allows your site to adapt to the behaviour of your users, providing larger, more legible text, faster upload speeds and larger icons and components to make it easier for your customer touch, click and navigate round your site without compromising on design and impact.

Mobile isn’t going anywhere, and the fact is it’s only going to bet bigger so investing in responsive design now is an investment for the future.

Image of a website on an iPad, responsive web design

Better User Experience (UX)

In today’s competitive market it has become increasingly easier to find attractive, creative and beautiful sites, however a good looking site is not necessarily an effective one. You may have stunning graphics, eye-catching typography and a fancy colour scheme, but if your users cannot easily find what they are looking for then they will simply go elsewhere.

The past few years we have seen a shift in the rules of traditional web design as designers are coming up with new and clever ways to facilitate the journeys of users within their sites. Navigation within sites is moving from the traditional hierarchical based menu bar to more sophisticated and creative navigations such as the infinite scroll, sticky menu bars and parallax scrolling. As we see a change in the way users consume content, we’ve also seen a rise in full-screen photographs, videos, interactive elements and animation so that information can be digested easily in a more engaging way.

Websites are there to serve a purpose, whether it’s to sell your products, promote your services or simply a space customers can view your opening times and find out a bit more about your company, so ensuring customers can easily do exactly what your website aims to do is crucial to stop them from visiting competitor sites.

The key is to put yourself into the mind of the consumer to gain an understanding of the journeys users are making through your site you can begin to see how the design and navigation of your site is able to facilitate these journeys.

Infinite Scrolling

Just a few short years ago ‘above the fold’ was the web design etiquette for driving traffic to the most important parts of your site. It was believed that users were less likely to scroll down to view content that appeared below the point of scrolling and therefore web designers were faced with the challenge of squeezing as much content as possible in the top section of the page.

This has now become a thing of the past as actually we have found users are now more than happy to scroll through a web page. With this we have seen the rise of the infinite scroll, a page which holds more content and continues to download as the user travels down the web page.

Some great examples of this are Google’s new image search layout and the Twitter news feed both of which continue to show more content as the user travels down the page, eliminating the need to move from page to page. This trend has become particularly popular as the rise in mobile usage continues to grow and people become accustomed to ‘swiping’ through website content without interruption.

Social Engagement

Nowadays it is difficult to ignore the huge impact social media is having on our lives. It has now been estimated that well over half of the UK population are active social media users, and with the rise of mobile usage, these users are now accessing their favourite social sites on the move, multiple times a day. Social engagement has now become a key consideration for web design projects as users crave more interactive content they can share with their online community.

This is an exciting time for businesses who want to create a unique voice for their company as the opportunity for strong relationship building and creating advocates of your brand continues to grow. Creating content designed for social sharing allows your users to post their favourite parts of your site to their online community whether it’s your products and services, images, videos or blog articles, helping you to create further brand visibility through your customers and building your presence within these social platforms.

The opportunity to create a dialogue with users has also been accelerated with the advent of blogging and online forums within websites in which company can post articles, news stories and discussions in real-time, allowing users to comment and respond to posts allowing businesses to create a community of users within the site.