Web design and development process 820x410 - What will web design look like in 2018 – and beyond?

What will web design look like in 2018 – and beyond?

Want to know why web design is so hard to get right?

It’s because it’s not one skill.

According to the web design team at Think Zap, one of Scotland’s leading web design agencies, it benefits to be fully laden with knowledge than spans from marketing and consumer psychology – all the way to innovative tech and cutting-edge programming.

But even then, the digital world doesn’t stop spinning. All of the areas it pays to understand develop on an almost weekly basis – what was in vogue yesterday is old hat today – as you’ll know from looking at and trying to use a site that’s not seen any updates in a couple of years.

It can be tricky knowing what’s hot today – let alone tomorrow, so we’ve talked to some innovative and forward-thinking web designers about what we’re going to see in 2018 and beyond. See if you and your brand are falling into line with what’s going to be the norm over the coming months and years…

  1. Chatbots and conversational UI

There’s an argument for conversational UI completely ruling the web design world going forward in time – but for 2018 at least, we’re going to see these technologies taking a more firm foothold in the sites we use.

The reason conversational UI has so much potential is because it appeals to a user’s sense of experiencing something that’s bespoke; that the site is responding to their specific wants and needs – rather than just throwing up the same experience that everyone gets.

Exceptional experiences also mean people come back and use your site again and again – and effective chatbots are resulting in much greater customer retention and revisit numbers almost universally.

Now, it’s arguable who benefits the most from this user specific experience online – the buyer or the vendor – but given there are benefits for both, it’s safe to say that chatbots and conversational UI is a firm win-win.

  1. Authentic photos

That picture of the smiling team that greets your traffic when they hit ‘contact us’ isn’t fooling anyone you know. The problem is, there’s a limited amount of stock photographs that tick the relevant boxes for a brand – and since there are millions of websites all putting out content on any one topic, there’s likely to be some repetition.

That repetition is a good way of saying ‘we’re a bit lazy’ to your traffic – a bit like you and all your friends turning up to the fancy dress party in the same lacklustre outfit. Lazy isn’t the type of brand image anyone’s hoping to portray – and even less so if you’re going to be representing someone else’s brand!

There’s a place for good stock photography – but as the hero image on your site it’s going to be a no-no in 2018. Instead, high quality authentic images are going to win the day.

Car manufacturer Hyundai recently ditched the small images of their range that featured on their homepage and replaced them with super high-quality, incredibly well shot images of their most prestigious cars. The result? A 62% increase in customers requesting test drives.

Exceptional images lead to exceptional conversions.

  1. Well-designed minimalism

Minimalism and negative space aren’t new ideas – but a break from the very-well-trodden path of black on expansive white backgrounds is long overdue.

Minimalism doesn’t have to be boring – in fact, it can be exceptionally colourful and beautifully designed while still being focused on the elements that matter. Take duotone images as an example – they’re a simple look (if not a little complex to create well) but are an excellent feature and unquestionably eye-catching.

What’s even better about a minimal approach is that it works exceptional well across all devices – and since the majority of web traffic is now mobile; minimal, well designed and light is a massive thumbs up.

  1. Stand out fonts

You may know a little about Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) initiative – essentially an open-source, stripped back version of HTML that truly optimises for mobile. AMP is a topic suitable for a discussion on its own – but it’s definitely having an impact on the designs that we see, especially around the use of fonts and typefaces.

When you’re stripping a page back to its essentials, text takes centre stage – and making sure it’s dressed for the occasion is important.

Although AMP allows for the quick cached loading of images, the emphasis is still on the page being light and quickly accessible – and from a user point of view, it’s the text that’s delivering the most important content 99% of the time.

Expect 2018 to see design that’s built around great looking text – and in some cases, text being used to create the impact that’s traditionally delivered by hero images, buttons and clickable pictures.

  1. SVGs to deliver immersive content

SVG files are vector images – able to scale up and down in a way that just isn’t practical with JPGs, PNGs and other pixel based formats. This is great – as it means page load time isn’t impacted – the first big tick in their favour.

Secondly – SVGs are going to be used to deliver the kind of image based experiences that we dreamed of as kids – 360 views, 3D images, cinemographs and more – exactly the kind of immersion that companies at the forefront of internet experience are keen to deliver.

  1. Greater IoT connectivity

The ‘Internet of Things’ has seen great steps forward in 2017 – and will continue to evolve throughout 2018 – with companies doing more and more with their sites to enable connectivity.

The sheer numbers of IoT devices make integration something of a natural next step – leading industry figures expect 30+ billion networked sensor enabled objects by 2020 – that’s around 4 for every person on the planet!

Although they’re not commonly used now, we can expect APIs that will allow developers to integrate communication with IoT devices from sites becoming increasingly popular over the next few years.

What does the overall picture look like?

Somewhat predictably, mobile is king in 2018 and beyond – but instead of the ‘optimised for mobile’ approach that we’ve seen up until now, expect ‘mobile first’ designs to be the norm – with styles, formats and interactions based on that principle.

Blog5 809x410 - 6 Types of Dirty Data and Their Impact on Business

6 Types of Dirty Data and Their Impact on Business

From the name itself, dirty data really offers no good to an organization. Dirty data is basically a data that contains erroneous information. It has been costing companies millions of pounds each year. As a matter of fact, dirty data costs organizations almost £500 billion each year, based on the reports from The Data Warehousing Institute (TDWI).

Types of Dirty Data

Data quality is important in business efficiency and productivity. It is important that organizations practice data management. However, dirty data can really be inevitable. In most cases, data quality is being affected by the way data is being stored and managed. Here are the six common types of dirty data:

dd1 - 6 Types of Dirty Data and Their Impact on Business

Incomplete data

Incomplete data refers to portions and fields in the database or master data records left blank. Business operations cannot move on to the next step if the data are incomplete. For example in a lending department, data elements including initial loan amount, interest rate, and payment terms are really important.

Duplicate data

In contrary to lack of data, there is a duplicate data. Most duplicate data involves customer profiles, redundant values in the database, and repetitive elements. This can be costly for organizations especially when they are performing an inventory.

Incorrect data

In this situation, the data are given but are incorrect. In filling in dates, months are represented by numbers 1 to 12, days by numbers 1 to 31, and the year is usually 4-digit. In the case of address, it should consist of street, city, state, etc. Incorrect data can really affect the data quality.

Inaccurate data

Apart from incorrect data, some data may be factual, however, there are certain elements that are inaccurate. Inaccurate data mostly occur in the address, especially with the abbreviations. Inaccurate data can cost businesses a lot. For example, the inaccurate address can result in wrong deliveries.

Inconsistent data

Redundancy of data results in inconsistency. This happens mostly with profile names. There are various clients with “Mark” as their name. These redundant elements may decrease efficiency in business operations. Moreover, it also leads to wrong actions.

Business rule violations

Business rule violations are dirty data that occurs when certain enterprises follow varied data procedures and formats. Most common examples for this are units of measurement, currency, address and date format, etc.

dd2 - 6 Types of Dirty Data and Their Impact on Business

Impact of Dirty Data

Dirty data really hinders business efficiency. It is important that every company execute data quality management to avoid:

Loss of revenue

A single error in the data can lead to a loss of revenue. It can affect the flow of products and services. Dirty data can also decrease trust from clients and customers, leading to reduced conversion rate.

Ineffective marketing

Marketing efforts will also be put to waste. Wrong data can affect how marketers devise their marketing strategy to a specific target audience.

Wrong decisions

Dirty data will also lead to wrong decisions. Basically, data are so important in business operations. If they are incorrect or inaccurate, the future actions of the company will be affected greatly. Apart from the members of the organization, the clients and customers will also be affected.

Blog4 809x410 - 8 Reasons Why Managing Data Quality is Important to Business

8 Reasons Why Managing Data Quality is Important to Business

Data quality is important in business operations. Most enterprises use data in making important decisions and in understanding the market. Basically, data quality measures data properties from different perspectives. It is vital for business transactions and operations. It is also needed in the reporting of business intelligence and business analytics. Without data quality, the organization will be erroneous and unreliable.

In this article, we will let you understand why it is mandatory for an enterprise to maintain data quality:

Reduce costs

Basically, if the data of an organization is of low quality, then more money will be spent inefficiently. According to a study by Data Warehousing Institute, American organizations lost six hundred billion dollars every year because of poor data quality. Simply say, bad data leads to failure of IT projects and loss of leads. Further, accurate data also reduces the volume of undeliverable mails. You wouldn’t have to spend on postage costs and in resending packages.

data2 - 8 Reasons Why Managing Data Quality is Important to Business

Generate leads

Leads are made out of trust. If the organization has low-quality data, customers will be dissatisfied which will reduce leads for the business. Basically, good data translates to better reach and increased conversion rates. Thus, it is important that organizations perform data management initiatives.

Gain competitive advantage

One of the most important assets of an organization is data management. The idea of “managing data” makes the organization reputable and reliable. With this, more customers will trust your organization which will result in increased conversion rates. Moreover, the existence of data management in an organization also increases employee productivity. In conclusion, your organization will have a competitive advantage over the others.

Strengthen organization

Different levels of organizations require a certain data to make better decisions and perform business operations. The presence of data management and high-quality data makes all basic operations organized. This will increase the overall productivity and efficiency of the business.

data1 - 8 Reasons Why Managing Data Quality is Important to Business

Create meaningful data

If data is being managed properly, raw data will be converted into meaningful insights. These values are essential for an organization to make right decisions for the business. Apart from meaningful insights, managing data quality apparently leads to high-quality data. Without good data, the organization’s goals and objectives will not be achieved.

Improve marketing

The essence of managing data quality is also important to improve marketing efforts. Before, marketing companies promote their businesses to basically everyone, spending a huge amount of money for a widespread advertisement. Today, marketing is targeted to a specific audience. Data, like statistics and demographics, enable marketers to concentrate marketing on the desired audience.

Maintains data consistency

One of the problems of huge companies and corporations are inconsistent data. This affects their relationship with clients and customers. Through data quality, members of the organization access the same information and data as other through one large database.

data3 - 8 Reasons Why Managing Data Quality is Important to Business

Improve customer engagement

With everything mentioned above, having high-quality data allows an organization to serve their clients and customers well. The data quality also helps an organization know their customers personally. Through the data, companies can send relevant newsletters to subscribers, offer deals that suit their needs, etc.

Blog3 809x410 - 2017’s Top 7 SEO Trends to Keep You Relevant

2017’s Top 7 SEO Trends to Keep You Relevant

Search engine optimization (SEO) is one of the most important factors in digital marketing. It’s been helping businesses grow since the start of the internet era. Every year, SEO trends change. As an SEO expert, you need to embrace these new advances to stay competitive. You need to study some changes in Google Algorithms and even new techniques of content writing.

This 2017, here are the top 7 SEO trends to keep your business on top of the page:

Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMPs)

In the end of 2016, Google started recognizing websites that have switched over to AMPs. Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMPs) are open source protocols that enable websites to load faster on mobile devices. Apart from instant loading, these websites also consume lesser data which sounds very practical today. It is expected that AMPs will dominate mobile searches.

Voice Search

Voice Search has been rising popularity today, especially as smartphones become smarter and people become lazier…we mean, busier. According to comScore, it is expected that half of the web and mobile searches will be done through voice by 2020. As early as now, you need to expand your keywords. Voice searches focused on more personalized and location-based content. So consider these factors in optimizing your content.

mob1 - 2017’s Top 7 SEO Trends to Keep You Relevant

Mobile Optimization

This trend has started a few years ago. But marketers should keep this in mind. More people will become more dependent on mobile communication devices in the future. In fact, mobile searches outranked desktop searches in 2016. You need to optimize everything on your website to the mobile platform.

User Intent Prediction

Google is now better at identifying what a person intends to search or find on the web. Google makes searching more instant, answering even the most detailed queries. In this case, Google extracts a snippet from a top content provider and use it to answer the searcher’s query. Thus, you must take advantage of the opportunity. Think and act like a normal searcher. Identify the most common questions and keyword searches. Use these to publish a content.

301 Redirects

301 redirects keep your website relevant during a topical check. It’s not hard to implement. Basically, it makes sure that the old URL redirects to the new URL. This method does not affect your SEO ranking. There are different methods and strategies for implementing URL redirection.

mob2 - 2017’s Top 7 SEO Trends to Keep You Relevant

Cross-channel Marketing

Cross-channel marketing should never be confused with multi-channel marketing. The primary goal of cross-channel marketing is visibility. It uses a wide range of channels to market a specific brand. This shall include the CRM and marketing automation solutions.

Personal Branding

Personal branding has been an important component of SEO. But in 2017, Google and even social media platforms like Facebook are highlighting individual posts instead of branded posts. This is why personal branding is so important today. It will provide you more guest post opportunities, build user trust, and drive more traffic to your website.

mob3 - 2017’s Top 7 SEO Trends to Keep You Relevant

Search engine optimization really requires analysis. Google, as well as the target audience, are so unpredictable. As a marketer, you have to keep up!

Blog2 809x410 - 6 Tips for an Effective Email Marketing Strategy

6 Tips for an Effective Email Marketing Strategy

Email marketing is one of the earliest forms of digital marketing. Up to now, it stills remains very effective in establishing your business’ online presence. In fact, 86% of the consumers would like to receive promotional emails from companies they support and follow, based on Statista (2015). For the next years, email marketing will remain to be one of the digital marketing strategies as email users are expected to grow up to 3 billion by 2020.

Basically, there are different things that you should consider in performing email marketing. The goal is for the recipient to open your email and engage. Here are our 8 tips for an effective email marketing strategy:

marketing1 - 6 Tips for an Effective Email Marketing Strategy

Invite them to subscribe

Consumers don’t easily give their email address. Thus, it is you who should invite them to subscribe. Post a signup or subscribe form on your website, homepage, blog, or Facebook page, among others. Do not create a lengthy form. Name, email address, and birthdays are the most common elements. Besides, you might want to send them some deals and freebies for their birthday.

Inform them what to expect

It is a must that you tell consumers what to expect when they subscribe. This may include sending them company updates, daily and weekly deals, freebies and promos, consumer tips, and other important matters. Enumerate these in your signup form so they can decide if they want to receive these types of content or not.

marketing3 - 6 Tips for an Effective Email Marketing Strategy

Send a welcome email

After their subscription, send them a welcome email. Thank them for joining the list and subscribing to your content. To make it more special, you can send new subscribers a welcome bonus or offer.

Email design and content is important

Email templates are readily available on the web. But as much as possible, make your email campaign more personal. Mention their name, the likes, and interests. The content should follow the appropriate structure. We recommend that the content should be 90% educational and 10% promotional. Moreover, the design and layout should be enticing. The goal is to look professional. Subscribers wouldn’t want a trashy look newsletter.

Send content that matters

It doesn’t mean that consumers subscribe to your page, they want to receive all content you send. In this dilemma, segmentation comes in. Segmentation allows you to classify subscribers according to the content they want to receive. Basically, their preference for content can be determined during their signup. By sending content that matters to them, you are decreasing your risk of being unsubscribed.

marketing2 - 6 Tips for an Effective Email Marketing Strategy

Target the inbox, not the spam

One of the problems of sending newsletters is spam. Basically, email has been seen by hackers as a way to do their thing. In 2004, the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 became a law which prohibits scamming through emails. There are various techniques to avoid the spam. First, you need to get certified. Also, whitelisting has been performed by most companies. In this, the recipient identifies you as reliable. Lastly, your content composition matters. Avoid using too much punctuation marks or including words that sound like a threat.

Are you using email marketing today? Send us your thoughts.

Blog1 809x410 - Top 5 Ways APIs Can Help Your Business

Top 5 Ways APIs Can Help Your Business

2017 is definitely the year of Application Programming Interfaces or APIs. APIs are set or routines and components that enable various software, applications, and system to connect and share data with each other. Basically, it promotes collaboration between two or more platforms. APIs are also vital in customizing Graphical User Interfaces (GUIs). This year, APIs are dominating the digital world. According to Programmable Web list, there are over 17,000 APIs in the database.

APIs are now playing an important role in improving business models. Most companies that are integrating digital strategies into their business operations are taking advantage of APIs. Here are the top five ways APIs can help businesses:

api2 - Top 5 Ways APIs Can Help Your Business

Modernize organizations structure

The use of private APIs provides companies the opportunity to restructure and modernize their business. How? APIs enable “composable enterprise” in which companies can break down certain functionalities and services and re-create them into new business value chains, thus developing new services and data. Moreover, APIs offer businesses access to a wide range of resources that enable them to move operational elements to external providers.

Increase business productivity

One of the direct impact of APIs on business systems is increased productivity and efficiency. Basically, APIs improve collaboration and internal communication among software and systems. With this, internal processes are more productive and efficient. According to a study by McKinley Global Institute, productivity is increased up to 25% through the use of APIs. On the other hand, APIs also promote automation, updating workflows to make them work faster.

api1 - Top 5 Ways APIs Can Help Your Business

Boost loyalty and conversion rates

In running digital marketing strategies, the goal is to build your online presence. The more content you put into the digital space, the more likely consumers can see you. Through APIs, you can be able to share data on multiple platforms, thus, increasing your reach. Moreover, it is important that you provide all the necessary data your customer needs on your website. Through APIs, you can pull weather updates, currency exchange rates, and travel flights so they do not have to open another site to look for information.

Manage supply chain efficiently

APIs are integral in delivering new functionalities. For businesses that engage in service delivery to customers, APIs can help in managing supply chain efficiently. For example, Viaplay, an online content provider use two internal APIs in managing their services. One API is in-charged with checking customer’s subscription levels. The other API does the re-commencing the subscriber’s content. With this, you do not have to worry about delivering your services.

Improve customer experience

One important characteristic of API is its ability to customize content for the customers. As a developer, you have to anticipate what your customers need to your website. With this, you can access different content and services from other external platforms and integrate it into your website. APIs allow content to be embedded in any application or site. This will guarantee a more fluid flow of information, improving the user experience.

These are just a few of the many advantages businesses can get in integrating APIs into their systems.