Top 10 website development trends in 2021

Now that the year is coming to an end, what were the top 10 website development trends in 2021? What design, copy or media elements defined the year or maintained their dominance? If you’re pressed for time, we see the standout trends as:

  1. COVID-19 policies & procedures pages become standard practice.
  2. Artificial Intelligence and bots help with UX and customer service.
  3. Single Page Application (SPA) sites increase in popularity.
  4. Mobile-first development is now the norm but watch out for Apple users.
  5. Serverless applications and architecture enable remote working.
  6. Product test automation reduces development costs.
  7. Motion UI harnessed to funnel users through the journey.
  8. IoT dominates the boardroom with web crossover.
  9. Content optimised for voice search first.
  10. Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) plugin saves dev costs.

We’ll sort them into the three key development areas of mobile-first, pandemic related and UX inspired trends and provide a bit more flavour to their emergence below.

Mobile-first trends

More than half of all internet traffic is mobile now. We don’t even need to link you to the reports, intuitively you know. Chances are your own browsing habits have migrated to mostly mobile in recent years. So, it’s obvious that Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), Mobile-First Development and Single Page Application (SPA) are leading the charge in design for phones. We expect these trends to continue with good web development focused on near-instant mobile load speeds, rapid conversion and streamlined UI. Lastly, recent changes by Apple on user privacy rules on their devices have changed a lot about what can be tracked now. Essentially not much is passed on to advertisers, websites and merchants any longer, so it’s a space to watch as well.

Pandemic-related

Privately and in the corporate world, COVID has changed our lives forever. Safety precautions are now listed on nearly every website and our work from home directives have informed tech. AWS (AWS Lambda), Google Cloud (Google Functions) and Microsoft Azure (Azure Functions) lead the charge on serverless computing allowing commerce and business to continue uninterrupted. And collaboration service partners like Cisco are already thinking about syncing their tech with any return to the office with IoT devices like the Cisco Webex Board. We’ve also cut out unnecessary costs in support through automation and bots to help with testing and customer service.

UX-focused

Artificial Intelligence and bots now dominate the first-touch response for many businesses. They help direct users to resources or manage workflows for service departments. But design is contributing to the user experience too. According to InVision, “motion helps make UIs expressive and easy to use, it’s one of the newer members of the UI design family.” But with new, vast SASS libraries, that’s becoming less of a concern. Lastly, all content is slowly becoming optimised for natural language as sites compete for ‘position zero’ across search engines and home devices. Want Alexa or Google Home to read your content as a result? You’ll need to write for a natural voice response.

Want to talk about design, UX or anything else on the internet? Our expert team is standing by.

What brands need to know about NFTs – non-fungible tokens

NFTs- non-fungible tokens are the latest buzzwords to emerge from the cryptocurrency space. Chances are you’ve heard about NFT auctions generating millions of pounds for seemingly worthless pixels. Maybe the whole thing just makes no sense. Or perhaps you’re thinking of how you could use NFTs as a brand? Here is what brands need to know about NFTs or non-fungible tokens:

  1. NFTs are digital coupons that entitle you ownership of a digital thing.
  2. If it’s vintage, it’s gold. Nostalgia generates revenue.
  3. Digital land grabs are happening.
  4. Celebs are selling out and cashing up

nfts are one of a kind

One of a kind

According to Forbes, “Although they’ve been around since 2014, NFTs are gaining notoriety now because they are becoming an increasingly popular way to buy and sell digital artwork. A staggering £123 million has been spent on NFTs since November 2017.” It’s essentially a coupon that entitles the buyer to own a digital good. That could be a piece of art or something more abstract like a dancing cat video. Because it’s one of a kind, it creates the same scarcity that posthumous artworks do. It’s made up of snippets of code that can’t be reproduced and are stored using the same tech that enables crypto. In fact, most NFTs are bought with cryptocurrency.

nfts thrive on nostalgia

Nostalgia reigns

Maybe it’s just because so many crypto-investors are millennials but 80s, 90s and 00s nostalgia is fetching a hefty price. From beloved YouTube videos like ‘Charlie Bit My Finger” to bespoke collections from Atari for Centipede and Pog; if it’s retro it’s selling like hotcakes. Buyers are snapping up NGTs for digital nostalgia at an alarming rate. Want to own digital Dunkaroos biscuits? It’s possible. For brands with a history in the recent past, this presents an opportunity to monetise old assets in new and exciting ways.

nfts can include virtual land

Acres of bits

A digital land grab is happening too. From parcelling up the real world into fake lots or selling off bits of the ‘digitalverse’; people are buying and selling digital real estate. Why should brands care? Well, it’s expected to boom in the next decade. According to Republic, “Humans now conduct much of their lives through a screen, and virtual worlds that exist only on computers have cropped up. These are places where people can “congregate” by using avatars and have interactive social experiences–entirely virtually. These online communities are called metaverses.” And you can buy them. Is there an opportunity to advertise your product or service in the hubs? Maybe you want to own the metaverse around your actual offices? The possibilities are still unfolding.

NFTs- non-fungible tokens are popular with celebs

Celebrity payday

From selling the rights to unreleased tracks to making digital doodles, celebs are cashing in. And that’s good for their relationship with fans. But is there a way for brands to participate? Think about famous ad collaborations that would make a great NFT. Do you own “Where’s the Beef?” or “Got Milk?” – those clips could net you millions. Consider your back catalogue of popular ads and highlight any that could see new life as an NFT. And if you need to learn how to sell them, this guide is helpful.

 

Want to talk about NFTs- non-fungible tokens, websites or anything else on the internet? Our expert team is clued in.

Getting The Most Out Of Google My Business

Operated by Google, Google My Business is a way for business owners to take control over exactly

Operated by Google, Google My Business is a way for business owners to take control over exactly what their users and potential customers see in the search results listings. With a dedicated account that is solely used to influence Google search information, users can manipulate this data and supply information that their customers might need – including open hours, a contact number and photos of services or products.

Of course, another important feature of this is your location. By setting your location, you’re enabling potential customers in your area to search for what they need – and what you can provide – and be directed straight to your door.

So, how do you optimise this information to ensure that it is actually seen by the right users?

Get your foot off the starting block

The first step is, of course, to create your Google My Business listing, and fill in as much information as you possibly can. If your business doesn’t have a physical location or base, that doesn’t mean a Google Business account isn’t important – you can simply skip over the location and instead opt for a Service Area which allows users to see where you operate your services.

Pick the right Category

Picking the right category is how Google will narrow down searches towards or away from you. The categories already exist, so it is simply a case of selecting the one that most applies to you and your business – but don’t just pick the first one you see that seems relatively appropriate. The list of categories is large and quite specific, so make sure you pick the very best one for your business.

The importance of imagery

The world is shifting towards image-heavy social media platforms and videos, so ensuring you have some great visual content for potential customers is a sure-fire way to attract their attention. Using high-quality and professional photos where possible, your profile should show off your products or service results to any potential client who seeks more information. After all, first impressions are still the most important.

Double-check your information

If your business has a Google profile, an Instagram account and a Facebook page, it is imperative that you make sure the information aligns across them all. Consistency is key, not just for your customers who may be looking for vital information, but also for Google – who will penalise you for inconsistent detail; resulting in a negative impact on your SEO.

Encourage Reviews

Online reviews are a minefield. Businesses can shy away from reviews simply because they feel people will only comment on a negative experience. This is not the case since good reviews can seal the deal for one business over another in many cases. If a friend recommends a great restaurant, what are the chances you’ll visit that one over an unknown? Exactly.

Think about your area – and area code

If Google doesn’t think you’re a local business, they won’t recommend you to individuals searching in your local area. Using a local area code is one easy way to prove to Google that your location is correct. It will make Google more likely to recommend and suggest your business to users in the area searching for similar.

Make sure you know what Google does and doesn’t like, and stick to it

Google publishes guidelines for Business listings. Take the time to read it and familiarise yourself with what NOT to do. For example, adding keywords may be a good thing. And you may think you need them everywhere… but inserting them randomly into your business name can work against you. If it looks like you’re trying too hard, Google will suspect you’re not legitimate and you will be penalised. Another example is having a number of different listings all pointing towards the same business. You may think multiple listings means multiple chances of appearance, but all it means is that Google will punish you.

Don’t take your eye off the SEO-ball

SEO is still super important and ensuring your entire website works in line with your SEO strategy will go a long way towards giving both your website and your business listing the legitimacy that Google looks for. Make sure your keywords are relevant and present. Look to create content that focuses on your local area – as well as any wider offers.

Cybersecurity for small business websites

All too often the media shares stories of large organisations and companies that have been hacked through their website. Customer data and private information gets stolen all the time. The unfortunate truth, however, is that it’s not just these large-scale companies that are being targeted. Small businesses are just as likely to be targeted. We’re just far less likely to hear about it. That’s why cybersecurity for small business is just as important.

Recovering from a security breach is expensive and can be catastrophic for a small business without the necessary cybersecurity measures in place. Read on for some of our quick cybersecurity for small business tips.

Keep your domain information private

If a hacker has access to your name, your email address or even your mailing address, they can use this information to hack into your website or worse. The more personal information they can collect about you, the easier their job is, and you could find yourself facing a case of stalking or identity theft. Employ domain privacy to shield all your personal details from hackers and identity thieves.

Invest in an SSL certificate

Many internet users now will not trust any website without an SSL certificate in the browser bar, and we know Google relies heavily on SSL certification for a good ranking. However, this isn’t just a good investment for business – it also protects your site from hackers by encrypting all the data stored on it. All of our hosting packages come with free SSL certificates as standard!

Automatic backups

One of the most damaging ways a hacker can destroy your business is to crash your entire website or cause such problems that customers can no longer access your site.

With an automatic backup, you can work safe in the knowledge that should anything happen, you know you have everything you need to get the site up and running again quickly and easily. Ensuring that the automatic backup updates itself on a daily basis is key to being able to restore as recent a version as possible should it become necessary.

Malware scans and removals

It sounds like something out of Doctor Who, but cybercriminals are now a very real threat to small businesses that work online. With access to coding that can steal data and allow access to your site at the click of a few buttons, cybercriminals can attack a site before you even realise it’s happening. That’s why automatic malware scans are so vital.

These malware scans perform regular automated scans on your entire site; identifying and removing any potential threats to your security. By investing in one of these, you can be sure that any vulnerable areas will be identified and fixed before a hacker can exploit them.

Domain renewals

Another thing worth investing in simply because it can be done automatically is domain renewal. After an allotted period of time, your domain will come up for renewal and if you don’t act quickly you can lose control of your business domain name. Not only is this bad for business, but it also leaves you expired domain open for exploitation and unregistered access, whereby any cybercriminal could find out yours and your customer’s personal data and email addresses.

This can be prevented with automatic domain renewal. It’s an easy way to register your domain name so it refreshes annually. This can generally be managed through the billing information on your domain registration account.

Automatic updates

Staying up to date is one of the best ways to ensure foolproof security. It ensures your cybersecurity is working on its newest and most effective version. Many updates that become available have been created to patch up the flaws left open in an old version. So, neglecting to update with them can mean that your site is still open to those flaws. And once a hacker gets in, it’s too late.

Set up WordPress and plugins to update automatically, to offer automatic protection.

Check your passwords

Creating a password is often a toss-up between choosing something easy to remember and hard to guess.  Trust us, the latter is much safer.

It’s important that not only you but anyone with access to your site uses a secure and unique password. Hackers can find a different way into the site even if your own password is super secure.

Login Forms

If customers can log in to their own accounts, you’re at risk of letting in a bot. Bots try thousands of login combos; allowing them into your site. Then they release malware to damage the business from the inside.

By adding protection layers to your login forms, this should be avoidable. Things like reCAPTCHA, are good examples, as automated bots are unable to identify these. It’s also worth enabling a tool that gives customers a set amount of login attempts before they become locked out. This annihilates the potential for trying multiple logins until one works.

These ideas are just some of the basis in cybersecurity, but they will ensure increased safety for both your business and your customers. And we think that’s an investment worth entertaining.