I was feeling nostalgic the other day, for a time when things were built to last. My first refrigerator lasted almost thirty years. My first car and even my first computer were perfectly operational for more than 10 years. Today, I expect to replace my car every three to five years and my gadgets every two to three.
Are we being wasteful taking products out of commission before their life cycle is really up? Not really. The rate of change and technological advancement is accelerating. Newer models are significantly more complex than the ones they are replacing. The increased functionality makes it worthwhile to replace these things, even if they are still functioning.
This trend is definitely true for websites. The explosion of mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets are clearly changing both form and function of websites, making even two-year-old sites seem out of date in this new interactive and mobile world. Why do they become obsolete so quickly?
Websites are getting bigger. Once constrained to 960 pixels wide, many newer sites are being designed to 1024 width (or more), so they dominate the wide screen display of your desktop, but re-size responsively when viewed on smaller mobile devices.
Home pages are getting longer. Websites built in the last two years feature multiple boxes with calls to action and snippets of information on the home page. This is changing as some of the very newest sites are moving to a longer, more informational style of home page. For some companies, their entire site can be found simply by scrolling the site. While this isn’t my preference, this change in style is really for the mobile user since it is actually easier to to scroll than move from page to page on handheld devices. If your business is one which users often access on the go (restaurants, retail and entertainment venues), you should consider this style.
Left side navigation is coming back. Almost every website we have designed in the last five years has the menu bar positioned prominently on the top of the page. Web users have been conditioned to look to the top of the page for this information. But as pages get longer, the top navigation is impractical, so we are starting to see the shift to the side bar. The gallery website we built for Tish Flooring is a good example of how left side navigation can compliment the images on the page.
I have fond memories of my first car, but I wouldn’t trade it for what I drive now. I appreciate the enhanced safety and fuel efficiency. And I know a few years from now I will be ready for another upgrade. The same is true for my website. Web design will continue to evolve and we will start planning the upgrade this fall to keep us ahead of the curve. You should too. Want to talk about some of these new trends and how they can be applied to your site? Give us a call.