The digital frontier is evolving, as are the challenges that companies face. In an environment where every business has a web presence, it has become difficult to remain competitive. Many businesses have successfully adopted web development and web design outsourcing to address these new challenges. Companies can count on the right third party web development firm to use the latest technology and drive differentiation. Outsourced web development is all about keeping abreast with industry changes and using technology to increase viability in the online environment.
Before looking closely at where web development is headed in 2016, let’s examine the general IT outsourcing market. A recent study identified five forces driving major business transformation and fueling innovation across industries today and in the near future: digital, analytics, cloud, changing role of IT and the rebirth of core systems. On the digital marketing front, analysts expect the following trends to change the way people do business in 2016 and beyond:
Data-driven web analytics
Each visitor to a website leaves a massive trail of data that businesses are using to glean meaningful insights about products, sales and customer behavior. Big data requires sophisticated web analytics tools to produce reliable metrics and improves the cost, speed and quality of marketing efforts. Real-time analysis allows IT leaders to tweak and improve web campaigns on the fly, while intelligent tools provide multiple ways of measuring actual business results. Instead of focusing on a broad section or consumer segment, advanced web analytics improve targeting of individual customers.
Multifaceted web marketing
Traditional web marketing is an isolated process with technology functions like enterprise resource management (ERP) and analytics that are tacked on as needed. Modern marketing is multifaceted; it incorporates all steps of the product lifecycle and focuses on the customer. A company website used to serve as a platform for brand awareness, but it has evolved into a single window of engagement, communication and technology that delivers a personalized experience.
Clients are discovering new sourcing prospects using insights gleaned from data and analytics. When choosing a web development firm, for example, some companies analyze data provided by consultants to determine the best outsourcing location, what the external firm can add to the business in terms of value, how outsourcing can reduce costs, etc.
Web Design & Graphic Design Trends
Technology continues to drive changes in the fields of web design and development. Trends for 2016 and the next few years will be built on improvements to existing platforms as much as on changing aesthetics. Looking back on 2015, the visual aspect of web development did not significantly evolve from what was on trend last year. The minimalist approach continued to dominate, although fine tweaks can be seen in layout, graphics, typography and the back end. The most significant change occurred at the technology level: more people now browse the Internet from mobile devices than desktop computers, emphasizing the importance of responsive design. Web browsers also got better in terms of support for layout modules.
Experts predict that the following trends will define web design and web development in 2016:
The customer-centric approach has informed web design for many years now, but it’s expected to be bigger in the coming years. Web design that is anchored on what the customer wants and needs means websites that are optimized to make the customer’s visit and experience better in every way. Many corporate websites are already laser-focused on customers, and this trend will further enhance personalization. For example, the website of a deli manufacturer and distributor in the U.K. customizes viewable tabs based on visitor profile. Corporate visitors can see white papers and other relevant downloadable content, while younger visitors see social media pages that promote the company’s products.
Web designers do not have a free reign when choosing fonts and layouts, as corporate pretty much dictates the overall look of the website. Font choices are also limited to what devices can display. This trend is beginning to change and will continue to change in the next few years as web fonts become readily accessible to the public. More websites now use quirky fonts and bold type with great visual impact not just for headers, but also for areas that companies want to highlight.
While not expected to replace photos, illustrations and hand-drawn graphic elements will be popular in 2016. Illustration is a great way to differentiate a site from the thousands of others using flat or material design user interfaces (UI). However, illustrated website elements can be a hit or miss, so they require careful planning. A well-executed illustration should reflect the artist’s interpretation of an idea and improve visitor engagement better than a stock image ever can. While big, beautiful image headers that fill the screen will continue to be relevant, illustrated headers will become more popular with audiences that appreciate warmth, connectedness and personalization over perfect proportions.
Following Apple’s live photos on the iPhone, UI and web designers are catching on to the appeal of static images with elements showing a bit of movement. Modern HTML5 has made visual effects easier to execute in real time, so get ready to see more websites showing cinemagraphs and photos that seem to come to life in 2016. Some developers expect parallax scrolling (a background image that moves slower than the foreground image to create the illusion of 3D space) and giant images to fall back to make way for cleaner, muted design.
For websites with minimal content, expect to see a centered style with the main message on the center of the screen amid lush photography. Typography will be used more creatively and combined with textures, patterns and graphic elements to create a more dramatic presentation. For text- and content-heavy websites, expect wide containers of information that may or may not conform to the overall website design.
Material Design will be everywhere in 2016 as the public adopts the streamlined, not-so-flat user interface that first appeared on mobile devises. Google’s clean if slightly boring take on vector graphics will move from mobile apps to websites with the easy-to-use Material Design Lite. Web developers should expect more extensions and kits to simplify the transition to Material.
Flat design, the less-rich version of Material design, will continue to evolve this year. Modern websites will embrace the minimalist layout, while mobile sites will continue to use the card approach of grouping content combined with subtle shadows and careful use of animation.
Micro experiences are self-contained web buttons that expand as users click on them. A website may have three buttons on the welcome page, but after clicking the “Register” button for example, it grows into a workflow that guides the visitor through the registration process. The goal of micro experiences is to simplify the landing page and avoid overwhelm while still presenting the visitor with multiple options. They allow the user to complete a task without having to transfer to a new screen. Micro experience call outs can be buttons, cells, cards or menus hidden within other cells.
Website code will be much simpler next year with CSS3 support. All popular web browsers can now handle CSS3 (the latest iteration of cascading style sheets), which allows pages to load and render more quickly. CSS3 also makes pages easier to maintain, which can lead to more creative website layouts.
Google recently reported that more visitors used mobile devices than desktop PCs to view online content in 2015. As smartphones and tablets become the primary way for users to engage with businesses online, responsive design will always remain relevant. Responsive design is a simple and cost-effective way for businesses to build a mobile site very quickly. The domination of mobile devices will also amplify the need for mobile-focused online marketing. This means smarter, faster and search engine-optimized mobile sites.
Web development outsourcing activity will continue to grow next year as companies work with external firms specializing not only in web design, typography and layout, but also coding, search engine marketing, back-end optimization, security, analytics, support and maintenance. For many small and midsize businesses, web development outsourcing is the only way to create fully-functional sites quickly while staying within budget. For larger enterprises, an outsourcing firm brings in the necessary expertise, tools and processes to improve the functionality and security of existing websites.
In 2016, companies will use outsourced web development to make small and large-scale changes to the company’s online presence. The outsourcing firm may be engaged to integrate an application into the current website or revamp/rebrand the entire site.
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