Reponsive Web Design responding well
2013 has been a year of continual growth in the world of web design. As we predicted in a blog post last year, Responsive Web Design has gone from buzzword status at a few leading US technology companies to almost standard practice when it comes to the creation of new sites. This has been fuelled by the further growth of tablet computing, an area of sales that continues to grow and now offers a range from a £30 tablet to the latest iPad Air. The launch of Tesco’s own Hudl received widespread enthusiasm across the UK and has introduced the convenience and comfort of browsing from the sofa to a new generation.
As increasing numbers of devices come online, and bring increasing screen size and resolution variations with them, flexibility and adaptability are key to an effective online presence and this will only become more evident throughout 2014.
INTERNET OF THINGS - GO GO GADGET… THING?
Whilst the appearance of smartwatches on the mass market failed to really capture any consumer attention – spending hundreds on a wrist-mounted remote control for the phone in their pocket didn’t appeal to many – there are a couple lined up for 2014, including one from Apple.
With a fan base of people who love shiny things some sales are guaranteed, but don’t underestimate Cupertino’s ability to take an existing product and make it desirable - MP3 players and smartphones were around before the iPod and iPhone.
However there’s an increasing voice that says varying the format of essentially a PC has finite possibilities. So what next? An increasing number of experts are looking to the Internet of Things. Put simply, this is a loose term to describe a collection of sensors and control systems embedded in everyday devices. These devices can then be controlled remotely, using an internet connection. For example, a chip in your kettle that connects to your home wifi could receive a signal from your phone’s GPS signaling you are home and switching on for a cuppa just before you get through the door.
A more business orientated example might be wireless lightbulbs. A module on your website could be used to change the light settings in your shop window display remotely, so you can adjust for time of day and season without ever having to set foot on the premises…
Viral Marketing 2.0 – A bug worth catching?
Prepare for auto playing embedded videos on Facebook, Zuck’s latest ad-vancement will see more corporate messages filling up your newsfeed in the New Year. For many companies, this will be an opportunity to shoehorn a ‘viral video’ into public consciousness. But beware the risks of trying to create something that mostly happens by chance, accident or simply not in the way it was intended to be received i.e. so bad it’s good, though not necessarily good for you. This is not to say it never works, the success of Volvo’s advertising campaign recently was an international success, but assuming you don’t have access to Jean Claude Van Damm, helicopter mounted cameras and a full creative advertising team, it might be worth concentrating on what your business is about at its core.
For a lot of companies, the successes achievable with well-edited corporate video are worth remembering, and are likely to attract more useful views that lead to enquiries rather than being posted on a thousand Tumblr accounts.
Online Security – why a good padlock beats a tinfoil hat
Embassy sofa-surfer Edward Snowden continues to evade the US government, to the point there are now whispers of plea bargains from the top brass if he promises to stop revealing secrets...
...But the documents he has leaked already have sent shudders through corporations and provoked many to start planning new levels of software encryption. However ‘NSA-proofing your emails’, as some sites are talking about, represents a level of naiveté best avoided. As security guru Bruce Schneier said recently when referring to enhanced security at large corporations such as Microsoft and Google: ‘Even if they succeed in improving their own internal security. The best they'll be able to say is: "We have secured ourselves from the NSA, except for the parts that we either don't know about or can't talk about."
At a time when an astonishing number of users still have passwords like ‘password’, and write pin numbers down next to their keyboards, ensuring your communications are secure is important, but in 2014 we’d recommend concentrating on secure payment gateways for m-commerce instead. The majority of cybercrime that will affect your business is criminals stealing banking details, rather than Men in Black discovering your alien autopsy videos.
Hand-coded Websites – all the smart companies will be wearing them
In 2012, around 50 million new websites were added to the approximate total of 635 million currently online, and you can bet when the stats are in for 2013 you can add another 50m+ to that number.
Increasingly, companies are advertising ‘off-the-shelf’ websites that seem to offer all you could need at bargain basement prices. But think about it like this: You’re about to go to a party with 635 people at it. 500 of them are already wearing of them will be wearing one of five outfits brought off the peg. The rest will be wearing bespoke clothing tailored to their individual taste and style and carefully designed to fit them perfectly. Who will you want to talk to and how do you want to present yourself?
Additionally, a hand-coded website allows for easy expansion and alteration as your business evolves. Buying off the peg may be right for your first day as a start-up, but when you discover you need to offer unique options via e-commerce and your one-size-fits-all site doesn’t stretch to that, it can be an expensive process to start from scratch.