Future proofing your website

Sep 24th, 2018 by

Web design is constantly changing and evolving, and it is easy to get carried away by the latest web design trends. But if you are thinking of making an investment in a new website, it is important to ask some key questions at the start to the project, to ensure that your new website will work for your business now and in the future.

I just recently completed two major overhauls of websites that I created some years ago, both for long standing clients of mine. The websites urgently needed to be brought into 2018! Because they were created before responsive design had really taken off, I recoded them from scratch.

I feel quite proud to say that designs I had created back in 2011 have withstood the test of time and neither website needed more than a few design tweaks to make them fit for 2018. The magic really happens in the code, and both sites have now been recoded from scratch using a mobile first approach. This means they are optimised for viewing on phones and tablets, while more or less retaining their original design when viewed on desktop.

Working on these websites made me reflect on how much web design and website development have changed since these original sites were created.

1. Classic website design

There are many singing and dancing websites out there, an these can be impressive at first sight. But as with all that is highly fashionable, from clothes to interiors but also websites, it can look dated much more quickly than more classic designs. A website is a long-term investment for your business, so getting the balance right is imperative. As a designer I think it’s important to be aware of current trends but also have an understanding of what will likely age well and what is likely to go out of fashion in a short amount of time.

2. Responsive, mobile first website approach

This is of course the number 1 development in the last 5 years or so. Mobile phone use has rocketed and it can be quite clearly asserted that if your website isn’t responsive in 2018, there is no way it can work effectively for your business. In the UK, over 50% of websites visits in 2018 are from mobile devices. A non-responsive website not only gets penalised by google, it makes it either very difficult or impossible for a user to navigate and access the content. As a business owner you will not only lose customers, the overall perception of your business will be negatively impacted.

3. The unending rise of WordPress

While in 2011 I mainly created websites in html, most clients now ask for custom WordPress website design. WordPress is great for allowing clients to edit their own content. It is also still a very powerful blogging platform. But I would say the biggest advantage to a WordPress site over an html site, is the ability to extend website functionality seemingly endlessly. The thousands of plugins out there allow you to add useful interactions with your website users: pop-ups for lead generation, live-chat, document downloads and push notifications.

4. Social media integration

Another phenomenal change has been the extraordinary rise of social media for marketing purposes, I think to some part due to traditional SEO having become financially unfeasible for small to medium sized businesses. Social media and social media interaction is the platform that many clients now use to build relationships and

5. Branding from small to medium sized businesses

Most of my client are small to medium sized businesses, and one of the biggest changes I’ve noticed in the last few years is how even the smallest start-up will now invest heavily into creating its unique brand and brand story. What was once deemed the domain of large corporates is now fundamentally important to businesses of any size. Brand design and development is far more than designing a simple logo. It involves creating a look and feel for your business that makes it unique, easily recognisable and stand out from the competition. Your social media streams, your newsletter designs, your brochures, business cards and of course your website – they all need to be incorporated into your brand thinking.

6. Content is Queen

Lastly but definitely not least, the importance of quality, unique and engaging content on your website and blog. When it comes down to it, however pretty your website, what people come to your website for is the content. If your site does not offer quality content, your visitors will leave the site and look elsewhere for what they are after. Working with a content writer during the design process can substantially help with the overall effectiveness of your site.

A beautiful, well structured and user-friendly site, a brand that helps you stand out, and engaging, useful web-content is the golden ticket to building an effective online presence.