2016 Guide to the Web

By Cody Carnachan
4th March 2016

Many business owners put their website in the too-hard basket. We don’t blame you.

The web industry is a highly technical, fast paced industry that’s continually evolving. You don’t have the time to keep up with it and why should you? As with every business owner, your time is best spent focussed towards growing your business.

Keeping up with digital trends, new tools, design styles and changes to Google’s search algorithm — that’s our job.

Whether you already have a website or are looking to build a new one, the concepts are the same. In this article, we’ve pulled together a comprehensive cheatsheet that will tell you all you need to know for your business in 2016.

So, here it is.

“I want an auction-capable, news social network with job search functionality”

Believe it or not, that’s an actual enquiry we’ve received.

When building a website, it’s really important that you define early on what you are trying to do as this can provide a lot of clarity around costs & timeframes.

When meeting with new clients, we talk about websites in three main groups:

  1. Standard websites
  2. E-commerce websites
  3. Custom solutions

In order from least complex to most complex, the above categories fit most website types and it’s really easy to find out which one you need by asking yourself the questions below:

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  1. Do I have a small budget or am I looking to get something basic up as quickly as possible? If yes, go for a standard website.
  2. Will I be selling any products on my website? If yes, you will need an E-commerce website.
  3. Do I have any advanced or specific functionality I need as part of my website? If yes, you are in need of a custom solution.

The next step is to decide on the visual style you are looking for. Design trends change quite frequently in the web industry, but here are a few styles that are modern, relevant and clean.

Design Styles

Flat 2.0

Flat design rose to popularity with it’s introduction on iOS and Android devices throughout 2014 and 2015.

Characterised by clean designs with fewer colours, more imagery & little-to-no gradients and shadows, Flat has become the go to design style for most web designers.

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Riiot Labs

One of the biggest criticisms of Flat design is that the user experience isn’t as clear and some of the differentiations between links, buttons, normal text & other components is vague.

Throughout 2016, we will see the proliferation of Flat 2.0 which solves this problem by providing design components that show depth. In the above design template, the superimposed imagery over the design really makes the page pop.

Modular layouts

The release of Windows 8 brought modular design into the public eye.

Modular layouts consist of page elements separated into distinct areas known as ‘cards’. The clear definition between cards aids in usability and readability, allowing you to separate the different areas of your website from each other.

Design by Balraj Chana

Modular layouts are a great design choice if you are looking for something very modern or if you have many different offerings as this style brings clarity to sites with many options or pathways.

Geometric shapes

As part of the evolution to more modern & clean websites, we are seeing an increase in the use of geometric shapes in website design.

Shown below is a great example of how to use polygons to add character while not detracting from a professional & sleek style.

Design by Vivek Venkatraman

Responsive design vs. fluid design

Now that you’ve decided on an aesthetic for your website it’s important to make a key business decision on which devices you will support. The decision is between the following two principles:

Responsive web design is the process of ensuring your website works well at a number of key devices sizes (iPhone, Samsung S6, iPad, Laptop, Desktop) and averagely at every size between.

Fluid web design is the process of making your entire website based on percentages so that it displays well at any given screen size.

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Did you know that mobile website usage has surpassed desktop usage? On top of this, we are now seeing a plethora of new web-capable devices ranging from smartwatches to smart TVs.

The decision is between designing a website that supports a select number of devices vs. a website that supports any device.

We think this is a no brainer: Fluid is the way to go.

Other important considerations

From time to time, Google will make changes to it’s search ranking algorithm. Staying up to date with these changes could not only save you from plummeting down in search ranking but also give you a competitive advantage over your competitors.

The hottest search ranking topics entering into 2016 are:

Security - is your website secure and using an HTTPS certificate to encrypt all website traffic and protect your customers?

Speed - is your website fully optimised to ensure it’s loading as fast as it can. This is particularly relevant for users browsing the web on mobile data connections.

Mobile friendly - is your website mobile friendly? If your website doesn’t support mobile, it will be penalised by google in mobile search results.

A well designed website is your best, most reliable sales person.

Just like staff treated well, your website can work wonders for your business.

The difference between your sales staff and your website is that it will never tire, it works 24/7 and can be reached from anyone from anywhere in the world all at the same time.

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Try to think of a website as an investment, not an expense. Regularly optimising & tweaking your website can ensure it’s converting more business & running as best as it can.

That’s why it’s so important you find a digital agency to partner with that totally understands your company, what you are trying to achieve and has the know-how of what’s going on in the industry.

So if you’re looking for a partner who understands the importance of communication, quality and creating a website that consistently delivers results, then get in touch with us today.