14 Mar 2015

10 web design trends that will change everything in 2015

By Craig Grannell at CreativeBloq:

Some of the web's smartest thinkers reveal what they believe will transform the web.

In 2014, the biggest web design trends included: grid layouts, flat design, background videos, and the increasing capabilities of HTML5 APIs.

So which trends, technologies and techniques will define 2015? net magazine set out to uncover them by asking 20 of the web's brightest designers, developers and thinkers.

Here's our list of 2015's defining trends. Some ideas are featured in net magazine's feature. Most contained here are exclusive, and you won't read them anywhere else.

01. Huge background images

Front-end developer Benjamin Hollway expects more massive background images in 2015, "used alongside rich typography and subtle parallax effects", largely due to the lead taken by massive brands such as Apple and Google Nexus.

02. Card-based design

Creative director Haraldur Thorleifsson says card-based design will be big: "Content needs to fit on different types and sizes of screen, and cards are the easiest way to make that work across platforms." He adds this presents a design challenge, since cards can be dull, "but we're seeing fun, clever takes on this from companies like Google".

03. Digital-first branding

Clearleft founder Andy Budd (clearleft.com) says "as more companies realise their customers' primary experience with them is online, we'll see more digital-first-approaches to branding". He predicts companies "ditching traditional branding agencies who treat the web with the same care as a branded mug", instead "commissioning digital agencies to conceive a brand that works first online before filtering down to other channels."

Ghostly Ferns founder Meg Lewis (darngood.co) adds this may result in "more brands with responsive, fluctuating logos," which will "force designers to think about a logo from 'big picture' to 'minute detail' as it scales".

04. Open data

Sally Jenkinson says open data's been on the rise, but many digital spaces remain "more closed than ever" and so "leaders such as The Open Data Institute are working to promote more openness". She reckons this will gain public awareness in 2015, and projects will respond accordingly, in terms of publishing and consumption.

Clearleft's Andy Parker says we'll therefore see "more public and private companies making data and content available". In turn, this will result in "some pretty spectacular services being created, like the Cern sandbox".

05. Responsive design – evolved

Designer Victor Erixon (minimalt.se) expects the industry to "continue maintaining simple and minimal aesthetics," with the web "becoming fully customised for different viewports".

But others see responsive design going further. Jonathan Smiley (jsmiley.me) thinks we'll see "responsive design practices become more important in native apps," in part through a proliferation of wearables. "Apple Watch, for example, relies on a responsive-like flow to accommodate a small screen, and so while 2015 isn't the year the web and native become the same, it'll get us much closer."

06. Privacy

Designer Laura Kalbag (laurakalbag.com) says we've long "designed for security, so people can trust forms and checkouts with their information". Now, as people become aware of how data can be exchanged with third parties, "they'll be reluctant to share it without good reason — and rightly so".

07. Isomorphic JavaScript

Web design author and practitioner Aaron Gustafson has an alternate take on investment in frontend JavaScript frameworks like Angular and Ember: "Development benefits can be great in terms of speed of development, but there are costs to using this approach. JavaScript is the single biggest point of failure in any web-based product. Unlike on the server side, we do not control the execution of code in the browser."

He therefore reckons we'll see more use of isomorphic JavaScript, for companies that have heavily invested in JavaScript for their site infrastructure: "It offers improvements in the areas of performance, SEO, and maintainability to boot. Airbnb and Twitter have moved to this approach. Others will surely follow."

08. Iteration

Designer Robby Leonardi mulls that perhaps 2015's big trend will be iteration on what we already have: "We just had trends such as responsive and flat design, and it will take time for another big thing to happen."

By contrast, he sees enhancements on existing concepts and technologies, with increasingly sophisticated web layouts, better typography, and more designing in the browser.

09. Vibrant design

BaseKit co-founder Richard Healy believes Google's Material design specification – intended to combine the texture and tactility of paper and ink with the 'imagination and magic of digital' – will inspire designers.

He told us: "Think bold, graphical and intentional. We're talking vibrant, unexpected colours, contrasted with subdued and muted environments; large-scale typography, soft directional lighting and shadow; the use of responsive design best practices; and meaningful motion – carefully choreographed animation that provides fluid, seamless touch transitions and, more importantly, delights users."

10. Web components meet adaptive design

Developer Aaron T Grogg predicts "web components and adaptive development will combine to create a new style of web development". Someone will then fashion a "snappy acronym for this approach, which will cause all job ads to now require it".

By adaptive, Aaron clarifies he means making decisions on the server regarding mark-up to send a user, usually depending on the device being used. "When you combine the power of adaptive development with the flexibility of web components, I think we are going to see very creative solutions from designers and developers.

Hopefully, we will still be creating mobile-first, responsive, one-site-for-all-devices, but making subtle differences will be powerful tools in our toolboxes."

6 Changes Your 2015 SEO Strategy Must Focus On

By Jonathan Long at Entrepreneur

SEO is constantly changing. New updates are released, new trends are discussed and new strategies are developed. It is something that will constantly evolve.

In 2014 alone, there have already been 13 updates to Google’s algorithm, according to Moz’s change history. These are just the notable and more public ones -- there are refreshes and changes almost daily behind the scenes.

My company, Market Domination Media, is constantly adjusting SEO strategies for our clients based on a number of factors. We recently sat down and discussed the biggest changes that SEO efforts are going to need to adjust to as we enter 2015. Let’s look at six of them right now:

1. Create and optimize for mobile traffic

Back in 2012 ComScore predicted that mobile traffic would exceed desktop traffic in 2014, and they were correct. Google has always said that it feels responsive websites provide the best user experience, and recently starting including a “mobile-friendly” notation next to websites in mobile search results that are indeed mobile friendly.

You can see if your website passes Google’s mobile-friendly test by clicking here. Bing has also stated it prefers a single responsive URL

2. Optimizing for Bing, Yahoo and DuckDuckGo

Could 2015 be the year that some other search engines begin to take more market share? It seems like this is the million-dollar question every year, but some recent developments suggest that it could be possible.

Firefox kicked Google to the curb and Yahoo will now be the default search engine for the browser. Google’s deal is also up with Safari in 2015, and reports have both Bing and Yahoo trying to secure that spot. The option to switch default browsers in iOS 8 and OS X from Google to DuckDuckGo also exists.

With options other than Google becoming more popular and accepted it will make it important to have visibility across these search engines in addition to just Google.

3. Switch your focus from keyword rankings to ROI metrics
If you or your SEO company is still putting an emphasis on keyword rankings and determining the success of the campaign based on keyword positions, then it is time for a major wake up call. Ranking reports can be made to look pretty and some SEO companies will even target useless keywords just to say, “Hey look -- you are ranking number one!”

If you are a business owner spending money every month on SEO, what would you rather hear from your SEO agency?

“Congratulations, you are ranking number one for ‘buy blue widgets online’ but we aren’t sure what that translates into dollar wise.”
“The infographic that we published last month resulted in earning 67 links and it was also responsible for 45 conversions and $22,480 in revenue.”

Do you want a fancy PDF ranking report or do you want to know what your return on investment was?

4. More focused social-media approach

Social media was once just a platform to share content, so businesses would sign up for every social platform under the sun and blast their content everywhere. Social media is now a marketing channel as well as a customer-service channel. Your social audience expects your brand to engage with them on a more personal level.

It is more effective to focus on two or three social-media platforms and be very active and accommodating. This not only helps you generate more leads, sales and revenue, but it also helps to build a very loyal following that will share your content. This can introduce new people to your brand and even present opportunities to earn links.

5. Earning links rather than building links

Through all of the updates and algorithm changes over the years one thing remains the same: inbound links are the most influential signal of trust and authority. This isn’t going to change -- not in 2015 or anytime soon.

The days of building links on irrelevant blogs and chasing large quantities of links to game the search results are over. Earning a single link on a high-quality relevant website is valuable for multiple reasons including SEO, attracting referral traffic, leads, sales and branding exposure. Look for traditional PR and SEO to work closer together in 2015.

6. Targeting more precise keywords and search phrases

The days of targeting broad keywords are coming to an end. While they tend to have a huge search volume, they don’t attract highly targeted traffic and they are expensive to rank. Targeting long-tail search queries not only attracts qualified “buyer” traffic, but these terms will typically have much less competition. Keyword research along with understanding the shopping and purchase patterns of the target consumer can help to identify search terms and phrases to go after

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