Volume 15, Issue 5 - September/October 2011

Open 24/7
By Manny Hondroulis

New Website Trends

Change is a way of life. Yet it seems that change occurs at record speeds when it comes to the online world. Our company websites are no exception. We have discussed how to create a website and ways of updating it, but we have never discussed a website redesign.

You might think of a website redesign as simply creating a new website from scratch. Thatís a great way of looking at it because content (meaning the information displayed on your website) and methods of communicating that content change regularly.

Itís no secret that we surf the website differently today than we did just one year ago. But Iím guessing that most websites in our industry have a life cycle of at least five years. Our websites are grossly behind the times in terms of how users search and find relevant information.

If youíre tackling a website redesign, be sure to capitalize on recent website trends. For example, websites from the year 2000 look vastly different than the websites of today. If you donít believe me, see for yourself by visiting Wayback Machine at www.archive.org/web/web.php. To view a companyís past websites, simply enter the URL and select the desired date (post 1996). Compare that website to the companyís current website. There should be two takeaways: 1) a companyís website changes a lot more than every five years, and 2) the websites past and present look nothing alike and youíll most likely prefer the current website.

My first point means that we should consider a website redesign more frequently than every five years. Iím guilty of not doing so myself, but already have plans for a complete online overhaul. I also want to elaborate on my second point. You will most likely prefer a companyís current website because it takes advantage of current website trends. Even if youíre not conscious of those trends, your subconscious isóif youíre a regular Internet user. So letís discuss current online trends that you may want to incorporate into your redesign.

Socially Aesthetic
First, websites created today tend to focus more on the content than on eye-catching gimmicks. And by gimmickry, Iím not referring to a websiteís styleóstyle is most important. Rather Iím referring to elements such as introductory sound bites, pop-up windows, or text to speech add-ins.

Second, website aesthetics are getting simpler. Backgrounds are more plain and due to an increasing number of widescreen monitors, content stretches across the entire screen.

Third, you need to incorporate social networking accessibility into your website. Many companies list their Facebook pages in their printed advertisements more so than their websites. We have discussed the relevance of Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube in the past so be sure your website feeds content to your social networking sites and vice versa.

Finally, consider creating a website that will be friendly on a smartphone or PDA, meaning that it is easy to navigate through a touch screen. Or better yet, create a separate and simplified website for mobile users. These websites are usually accessed by adding an ďmĒ to your domain name. For example, m.ford.com is Ford Motor Companyís website for smart phones.

This is just a simple list of website design trends that I have noticed in the past year or two. There are many more that I donít understand, especially as they relate to website creation, but a professional web designer will. Good content that is communicated effectively will help you maintain a competitive position in your market.

Manny Hondroulis is marketing manager for Energy Performance Distribution in Baltimore.

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