Pete Hanlon is co-founder and head of creative at Belfast-based digital agency, Flint Studios. As one of Northern Ireland’s Rising Stars for 2015 and Business First 40 under 40, Pete has shown what it takes to make a successful business, particularly in the area of digital technologies. Here, Pete discusses why the adoption of new digital developments are crucial to commercially successful websites and enhancing your company performance.
How are websites evolving?
Digital technologies are radically changing the way businesses operate across all industries. People are spending more time online and less time with traditional media. This trend is further accelerated with the rapid rise of mobile internet browsing. As a result, businesses are becoming more and more web savvy. They know what they want and how to achieve this online and they are increasing the amount of spend on digital technology. This covers all areas of digital from data analytics to social media marketing and search marketing. However, the most significant investment is in company websites. After all, a company website is the central point for all online marketing activity. It’s your online shop window, a chance to skilfully communicate your brand, your business values and facilitate the attainment of your core business objectives.
Digital technology evolves at such a rapid pace and as more companies are increasingly realising that the web is important to their business, it’s essential to stay on top of the latest website trends that will actually get you results to better your business.
What is ‘Mobilegeddon’ and Responsive Design?
The past few years has seen the rise of responsive design – a technique that enables a website to detect the visitor’s screen size and adapt the layout of webpages accordingly. A responsive website should be as readable on a four-inch smartphone as it is on a 27-inch monitor.
With tablet and smartphone internet usage skyrocketing, the shift towards responsive design has been so significant that many non-responsive websites experienced a huge drop in web traffic when Google launched one of the biggest algorithm changes in its history – Mobilegeddon. The updated algorithm actively seeks out websites that aren’t mobile-friendly and if your website doesn’t respond well to mobile devices, your search engine optimisation (SEO) ranking may plummet. Having a responsive website is no longer simply a nice feature but rather a necessity.
Why Digital-First Branding?
Branding is an important aspect of any business. Your brand identifies who you are. It tells your customers what they can expect from your products and services, and differentiates your offering from that of your competitors.
To allow branding to build meaningful relationships within digital environments, the brand must also embrace the responsive shift. Designing a brand to be responsive entails a break away from the traditional branding process; where printing dictates a specific size and structure. Brands are no longer static, but rather fluid and ever-adapting. Simply reducing a logo size for smartphones may make the small details unrecognisable and unreadable. Fortunately it doesn’t have to be this way. Digital-first branding considers alternative logo variations on how to present a logo within certain screen size constraints and the interactive nature of digital platforms.
Traditionally, branding agencies have helped businesses develop a new logo design and visual identity. However, as more companies realise the importance of the web for their business, we’ll see more digital-first approaches to branding. Digital agencies will conceive a brand that works well online before filtering down to other channels such as billboards, TV ads and magazines.
Best practice. Less is more for a number of reasons…
Websites are at a point in time where user experience cannot be considered only for desktops, tablets and smartphone devices. User-centered design focusing on a website’s main objectives and goals is even more important now to deliver an experience to the user that is fitting for the device whilst not being restricted to size.
Simplified websites help users make better and quicker decisions. At a subconscious level, people are affected by how easy or difficult it is to think about things and generally prefer to take the easy approach. This feeling of ease or difficulty is known as cognitive fluency. Cognitive fluency refers to the subjective experience of the ease or difficulty of completing a mental task. It refers not to the mental process itself, but rather the feeling people associate with the process.
Whilst stripping back, it’s important that a website does not lose its soul. For websites to succeed, attention to detail and user experience needs to be foremost of importance. Websites succeed when users build relationships with the website and the brand.
Flint Studios is an award winning digital agency based in Belfast providing a fresh and innovative approach to web design, development and digital marketing. Do you have an interesting web project coming up? Contact Pete at Flint Studios on 028 9045 5554 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.