Website design trends in 2012
Website design in 2012 is all about the customer experience and customers want functionality, faster online access and social interactivity. If your website still appears as a static extension of your company brochure, with very little functionality or consumer interaction, it probably is time for a major overhaul.
The best websites today are purpose-designed. They are built around the actions you want your customers to take when they visit your site or land on a particular page.
If you are planning on upgrading your website or rebuilding it from scratch, you should be incorporating the following elements.
Social media integration
Social media is also set to become an integral part of website communications, customer relationship-building and retention in 2012. Corporate attitudes to social media are changing and more organisations are developing integrated strategies to support their Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or YouTube presence. We will see more websites using their social media channels this year to talk to and learn from their customers, build relationships with them, manage complaints and provide support. Expect to see Twitter for business use really taking-off in 2012.
Smart phone searches will grow significantly this year with more than one in five internet searches expected to be via a mobile device and the trend will increase significantly over the next five years. If your website is not mobile -friendly, frustrated visitors who find it difficult to read and slow to load will go elsewhere. Content too should be compatible. Headlines and text should adjust to fit the smartphone browser so that the visitor doesn’t have to scroll over to see it.
Forget Flash – it’s HTML5
Speed of access is what people want. Smart phones will not be installing Flash for consumers which makes using HTML5 extremely important for businesses.
Intelligent and useful content
Reader-friendliness, quality of information and usefulness are what attract customers and search engines like Google to a website. Make sure you research your market before making improvements. It’s important to listen to the people you want to reach, understand their needs and provide content and imagery that will attract and interest them. If you can give them what they want they will engage with your site and get others to link to it.
Consumers also want to find what they are looking for quickly in a language that they understand and identify with. The language style, tone and voice of your website should therefore be compatible and familiar to the people you want to reach so, again, listen and learn from your audience before you start to ‘speak’.
Continuous ‘fresh’ content
Search engines like Google as well as consumers don’t want to see and read the same old boring stuff over and over again. They are hungry for fresh content that’s interesting, useful and engaging. You should regularly refresh your site with new information, video, photos, info graphics, slide presentations, news releases and more.
Big interesting pictures and attention-grabbing headlines
Again, big, dynamic images, high impact headlines, interesting infographics and larger icons are all features which savvy websites are using to keep consumer returning to their websites, engaging with it and referring it to other potential customers.
More community and environmental commitment
Last but not least, consumers expect to see real examples of community, ethical and environmental commitment with testimonials, case studies, events calendars and social media interactivity within this section of your website.