Optimise your IT

What's next in web design?

Highlights
  • Context-based marketing connects customers with websites based on their physical location.
  • Website layout can be adjusted based on the contextual experience of users using responsive design.
  • Customer-focused content delivery via the web makes it possible to deliver highly tailored relevant content to customers.

Over the past decade, websites have transformed from online brochures into dynamic online destinations highly responsive to customer needs.

Company websites are now a primary sales and marketing channel. Gone are the days of simple HTML sites. Business leaders are embracing context-based marketing, responsive design and customer-focused content delivery to engage with customers.

What's next in web design?

Some of the most exciting technologies for large retailers, for example, use targeted marketing to send tailored messages to consumers based on their location within the store.

In one scenario, a customer using a retailer’s in-store Wi-Fi while in the TV section could be sent a message on their smartphone offering advice or a discount. Alternatively, it’s expected within five years technology like Apple’s Bluetooth low energy-driven iBeacon indoor positioning system could help make this scenario more common.

This sort of customer interaction typifies the future of web strategies that incorporate smart web design.

Responsive design

‘Responsive design’ is another popular buzzword among web development teams. It refers to technologies that make it possible to adjust the layout of a website based on the contextual experience of users.

Site designs are built to respond to the width of a device’s screen size, regardless of the gadget type. A site’s functionality can also respond to the limitations of a screen size or device, giving customers an even more contextually optimised experience.

It requires a different way of thinking about user experience and site design. You need to develop for the mobile platform first and the desktop second.

James Earp, User Experience Director at digital agency Razorfish, says a good example is the Qantas website, where the search function is customised.

“Depending on the results, the contents of the site swap in and out to fit in with what a person is looking for.”

All about the experience

Earp says the key area of growth in web design centres on user experience, which now requires a much deeper understanding of the way humans interact with technology, rather than focusing on the technology itself.

“Historically companies have been interested in using their web presence to drive awareness and ecommerce,” Earp says.

“About two years ago there was increased thinking about how customers use their devices and the context around how the content is delivered to the various devices.”

Top technologies

Underpinning this challenge to provide a rich customer experience is the development of technologies such as HTML5 and Adobe Experience Manager.

“These technologies are the next evolution of the traditional content management system,” Earp says. “They can define the user experience.”

He says Adobe’s technology enables content to be controlled for different needs through one platform, essential given the increasing use of a multitude of devices.

Web development teams make extensive use of HTML5 in its website design, as this technology has turned website design on its head as you are able to use the technology across many platforms.

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