Don’t Lose Touch!

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CBN_14_June4_KellyWalker

Web Design Developments You Need to Know!

Stunning changes have swept through the world of marketing in the last couple of decades. Those marketers unable to adapt have been left behind, wandering in what is now an unrecognizable landscape. An abundance of content is now being created and consumed in the digital realms, but many businesses have not yet fully adapted their website design to this new reality. As a result of using design practices that are in some cases outdated or not optimized for the digital world, too many enterprises are failing to grab and hold web searchers’ attention within such a highly-competitive realm.

It is vital to ensure that your content is fully optimized for a new digital world that is constantly evolving. It is important to understand and follow design best practices for more effective digital content—studies show that users of digital media have high and accelerating expectations regarding ease of use. One report by Google revealed that 78 percent of consumers leave a site when content isn’t sufficiently digitally friendly! The biggest key as you design is to keep your audience in mind, always thinking about how they consume content.

A major case in point is that over 50 percent of Americans own a web-connected smartphone, yet many websites are not optimized to serve these mobile consumers. This can be a fatal flaw, as one study showed that 61 percent of users are unlikely to return if content isn’t optimized for mobile, and another study projected $23.8 billion as the worldwide online mobile sales in 2015.While it is true that most standard websites are capable of being viewed on a web-enabled phone, few consumers are still willing to fumble their way around on a standard site jammed into a small screen. In the past, the development of a dedicated mobile site required a significant outlay of resources, but this is no longer the case. With the advent of Responsive web Design (RWD), which automatically adapts the website to the user device, the ball game has been changed.

Another critical aspect of design is that people tend not to have the attention spans that they once had. So how can you immediately grab and hold onto their attention long enough to create a deeper engagement with your content? A Poynter Institute study found that 78.3 seconds was the average critical decision juncture on a tablet story! At that crux, the reader either went elsewhere, or stayed with the article to completion. To keep people engaged, Poynter advises the placement of a “gold coin” at around that juncture, to re-engage both the mind and the finger on the tablet. This can consist of some kind of interactive element, graphic, or link.

And this leads to one aspect of cutting-edge web design that is frequently overlooked—tablets are a rapidly-growing share of digital user devices; tablet users have very distinct preferences as to how they read content. A recent in-depth study by the Poynter Institute on the habits of tablet users is extremely important, because the form and function of tablets are already influencing the way many people read. For example, magazines are mostly vertical, but 70 percent of the study participants chose to read with the tablet in the horizontal position. And in addition, viewers had an “overwhelming instinct to swipe horizontally” when moving through a photo gallery.

This developing preference for landscape mode means a big shift for web design, where the training has been to think in portrait mode, requiring scrolling down for additional content. Poynter found that tablet users repeatedly touched the screen to move the content up into the field of view, instead of moving their vision further down the page. With these new reading habits gaining ground, consider creating your content spreads in landscape mode. Screen touching is a major part of the viewing experience for tablet users, and the study revealed that readers wanted to touch often, even if they didn’t need to in order to traverse the material. Thus designers may have to start crafting digital content that engages both the brain and the finger!

Kelly Walker is Creative Director for Intrepid Marketing, a Bend, Oregon ad agency. For more information, contact Kelly at 541-419-9976 or Kelly@intrepidforward.com.

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