The first few weeks of a new year are always a great time to review our successes and failures of the past one – especially when it comes to the ever-changing online channel. In a field where last year’s trends can quickly become this year’s trash, a review of best practices isn’t so much necessary as it is critical.
Here at Evolve Creative Group, we’ve taken the time to discover what’s worked, what’s gone by the way side and what’s going to make this year a successful one. We’ve taken the time to develop a plan.
Of course, for any plan to come together, a well-rounded team has to be in place to forecast, to implement, to execute, and to succeed. Good thing we have one – one that’s willing to share its thoughts on what specific parts of the Web need a little more love and attention this year. With that being said, we present to you our vital insights for 2014:
Social Media, Social Media, Social Media
Todd Bertsch – Owner/President
As each network continues to grow and flourish its own demographic, make sure you’re taking time this year to find where you really need to be, and what you really need to say. Each industry and/or business has a unique message to share with its (potential) audience, and if you miss this, you’re missing a very integral part of your online marketing plan. Make sure to research, listen and monitor all networks to find which ones fit you best, as each network serves a special purpose.
Let’s not forget that social networks have adapted to be more business-focused, too. What does that mean for your marketing plan? As organic (free) reach continues to decline, paid advertising on social networks is becoming more necessary than ever before. Test and analyze how these paid initiatives work for you and your company. More times than not, you’ll find a small investment brings a sizable return.
Mobile Email Marketing
Kelsey Tedeschi – Online Marketing Manager
When it comes to email, marketers are using a lot of different tactics to get their customer’s attention. But are marketers making sure their emails are mobile ready?
Right now, 51 percent of emails are being opened on a customer’s mobile device. That’s a lot of emails. As customers continue to change how they read marketing messages, it’s important your marketing plan is ready to adapt. That means a focus on ensuring your emails are mobile ready and friendly. While there are various design and development strategies to consider while creating your email, one of the best ways to see if you email is up to par is by sending test emails to yourself and viewing them on your mobile device. Remember, every industry is different, and you want to make sure your email layout works best for your customer demographic. Doing a little due diligence will go a long way in sending the right message.
Mobile-First Approach to Web Design
Derrick Boyd – Senior Web Designer
Responsive design has been adopted rapidly over the past few years by Web designers and developers everywhere. One popular strategy professionals are using to build better responsive sites is mobile-first. With a mobile-first design, designers start with the lowest common denominator (mobile) then progressively enhance the user experience to its largest level (desktop).
On sites designed with a mobile-first strategy, you may see simpler graphics created with CSS instead of bulky images. This allows for faster page load times on mobile devices that have slower Internet connection speeds than their desktop counterparts. You’ll also see more sites taking advantage of newer HTML5 features like geo-location to grab a user’s coordinates and use that data to create a more user-friendly and intimate experience.
Typography & Web Icons
Kiersten Bonifant – Web Design Project Manager
Last year had us kissing shadows and depth goodbye and saying hello to flat design. While flat design won’t be considered a new trend in 2014, I think we’ll see more creative uses of this minimalistic technique, especially in typography and Web icons.
Something few sites do successfully, but that I expect to see more of is mixing and matching fonts in a tasteful way. Mixing weights, styles and serif vs. sans-serif fonts can have a unique effect. I expect to see this come into play on sites with a female user base or with a handmade aesthetic.
As for icons, I expect them to become more dominant this year, especially on mobile devices. I can see icons taking off in two separate directions: On one hand, they’ll become larger, super simple and more literal than ever, acting as main points of navigation at the mobile level. On the other hand, designers have either downloaded or created hundreds of “minimal icons sets” by now, so now is the time to give our icons more personality and ambiguity, making them standalone graphic elements rather than tiny afterthoughts.
Successfully Executed Responsive Design
Mike D’Agruma – Lead Front-End Web Developer
Chances are if you didn’t know anything about responsive Web design at the end of 2012, you were part of last year’s coming-out party for the framework across the entire online channel. That makes this year special. While a number of designers and developers have been implementing responsive Web design practices for a few years now, 2014 will be the first year everyone’s reading from the same playbook. The only question that remains is one of execution: Just like any drawn-up play in any sport, a successful responsive effort can only be achieved if everyone understands their roles. Can content providers and online marketers make the right calls on what to show their target audience on a site as it scales? Can designers and developers take that content and optimize it while further developing best practices to create better builds?
Can we make it work together? If 2013 was a year for everyone to learn how the game is played, 2014 is the year we find out if everyone can play at the same level.
Utilizing Your Website as a Recruitment Tool
Todd Bertsch – Owner/President
If you’re in a position to hire, you’ve probably realized top talent is hard to find, and having a great recruitment tool is the best place to start drawing it in. Not only is a website your No. 1 marketing tool for acquiring new customers, but most times, it’s the first impression a potential employee may have of your company. You not only need to tell a compelling story about your products and services, but you also need to convince potential employees why they should consider working for you. They’re interviewing you as much as you’ll be interviewing them.
Creating a special section for careers to showcase your internal culture and current employees is a great and easy way to present your company. Uploading a photo gallery of company picnics and events along with some video testimonials of current employees are also a great ways to gets users engaged. Don’t forget to keep your news and blog pages updated, as these are important and most times overlooked. I’ve heard from several people in multiple industries that the first thing they do is visit a company’s website to determine if they even want to apply. Your website is a true reflection of your business, so make a great first impression, or you may miss out on that stellar future employee.
As you plan your marketing strategy for the year, where do you see an opportunity for more attention online? Let us know what your hopes are for the Internet in 2014, and we’ll let you know what we think!