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Consumer device trends: What designers need to know right now about tomorrow

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The rising internet usage via consumer electronics can and does shape how designers develop and evolve their approach to website development. As more efficient, faster and elaborate devices become available, designers need to adapt websites to be responsive to the various types of devices that are connecting. A website needs to be accessible and functional on more than just desktop computer systems. It needs to have versatility to accommodate the ever-expanding array of consumer platforms.

The Growth of Mobile Technology

In 2013, mobile data traffic across the Internet grew by approximately 81 percent from 2012. This means that developers who haven’t implemented a mobile adaptation of their websites could be missing a large market. Mobile technology has to display websites on varying screen sizes and device capabilities. Without a mobile-responsive design, visitors will immediately abandon a page for sites that are easier to read and use.

While many displays share resolution sizes and capabilities, there is no universal display for all devices. Larger television screens can be more than 2,000 pixels wide while some tablets are only 800. This means websites that are designed for larger screens may not operate well on smaller and potentially less sophisticated hardware.

Most website developers understand the need for responsive design, making sure sites can appear on even the smallest of displays. However, upcoming technology may provide yet another obstacle for development as manufacturers begin marketing smart watches. Although the display technology may be able to leverage responsive web design, the smallest screens will still prove problematic for anything as sophisticated as internet browsing.

Integration of Services with Other Applications

Online application developers are seeing the advantages of integration as it can be beneficial for all sites involved. For example, YouTube offers a method that allows viewers to share videos across all social media platforms online and via native apps. This gives all such properties the potential for additional traffic. Integration offers convenience, a prospect that people find intriguing: the more convenience that is offered by a particular app, the more attractive it is to the larger population.

Integration between device apps and websites is an increasingly common development that offers even greater appeal than integration across sites. From the use of an app on a smartphone or tablet, users are able to save information that can be displayed directly on the website. While this may take a bit more programming knowledge to implement, it’s a procedure that many business models are including. A well-known example of this is the Fitbit. This small device measures a person’s walking habits through the day and saves the information through WiFi connections. Reports and information can then be accessed on the Fitbit website.

Typography in the Intro Area of Websites

Many developers are moving to increase the usage of large text in the “intro” area of a website – rather than images alone. Designers would often place logos, banners and attractive images in this area to engage the visitor. Now, larger, bold text is replacing the image standard on a lot of sites as a method to convey a message rather than offer only visual appeal. And what is the explanation for this retro leap back to a simpler concept?

The use of basic text over detailed graphics allows mobile devices to display the material without the constraints of image resolution. Typography can be displayed on devices rather than images that would require shrinking down from their 300 dpi construct. Although it’s possible to force the browser to reduce the size of an image, it may still hinder site speed as the entire 300 dpi image is rendered and then displayed at a smaller size. Large bold text doesn’t have that drawback and can be quickly accessed by any device regardless of age or capabilities.

Video Content Preferred to Text

With the advancement of technology and the increasing access to fast Internet connections, more designers are utilizing video content for what it has to offer compared to text-based content. As videos are becoming easier to develop and faster to stream, small website owners and large corporations alike are implementing them on landing pages and corporate home pages.

Now that nearly all devices are manufactured to display video content, websites can be viewed rather than read on smaller devices. The ability to pinch-to-zoom works well when visitors are unable to read content, but video and audio communication requires even less effort on behalf of the visitor. Depending on the file format of the video file, it may even be displayed on devices that saw the turn of the 21st century. This prevents alienating potential consumers by allowing everyone to view the content.

Personalized Experiences

The use of cookies by web developers is not new, but the technology has been developed further to provide for more personalized experiences, rather than the abusive purposes it was previously connected to via some forms of advertising. User interfaces are more attractive if they are created around a person’s unique interaction with a website. Netflix and various other service-based sites use this technology to display content that may interest a user based on historical usage.

The more personalized the experience is, the more “smart” a website seems to the average visitor. This helps to create a level of interest that prompts the visitor to return more often as the site becomes more tuned to his or her use.

Foreseeing the Future of the Internet

Monitoring the current trends of website design and consumer devices can lead to more engaging website designs, return visits and traffic growth. As new technology is released on a regular basis, developers need to examine the multi-media capabilities as well as the typical bandwidth capabilities of internet users. While it may not be possible to please all of the people all of the time, analytical data can help a designer focus on the majority of visitors in order to develop a functional and viewable website regardless of the device used to browse its pages.