2011 – Design will be the difference between winning and losing customers

Next year, design will be the difference between winning and losing customers. The internet will no longer be calm waters. Storm clouds are gathering.

Where it used to be easy to cast your net and get a decent return, next year will involve trawling deeper to land a good catch.

Make no mistake, the fight for the consumer’s pound is about to get even tougher. 2011 will see VAT go up to 20% and it will, by all predictions, see inflation rise above comfortable levels. Against a backdrop of drastically lower bank lending, low interest rates reducing savings returns and public sector pay freezes and job cuts, there will be much more of a scrap for those with some disposable income.
The good news is that you can take some relatively painless steps to make sure that you are not one of those businesses squashed in the “big squeeze”
Those prepared for the battle have already invested in making sure that their sites are well optimised. Getting folk to find your offering is clearly the first step in making your business work, but next year’s big winners will be those who understand that conversion will be key.
In good times you can afford to let a few slip through the net, if your site security isn’t that hot then you may have gotten away with it. If your site contained errors or didn’t reflect your businesses values then in times of plenty you would still have caught a few fish. Your competitors were probably too busy to focus on you, however, the sharks will soon be circling knowing that less cash is circulating will make them hungrier for your trade.
So what can you do to fight back? Here are some ways to make sure that you are the hunter, not the hunted:

1. Make use of emerging technologies such as HTML 5 & css3.

Just like physical shops display trends change with buying patterns and websites are going to change too with a move into a higher density of offering. When things get tougher, the more you display the more folk will buy. HTML 5 allows for tighter layouts and more information in easy to read layouts and, crucially, faster loading. CSS 3 gives the flexibility to promote the elements on the page more effectively. See http://www.shuttervoice.com/11541/best-website-design-trends-for-2011.html for more information.

2. Get your site set up for Mobile Web Design (iphone, ipad):

If your site is not set up for mobile devices such as smart phones and ipads then you know that you are going to lose out. With the use of mobile devices growing exponentially, having your site mobile friendly will be a no-brainer for 2011.

3. Integrate Social Media marketing (blog, facebook, twitter) design elements:

It can’t be ignored anymore; if social media is not part of your website’s mix then you are missing out huge opportunities.
Just think of all of those Facebook and Twitter users (come to think of it – you are reading this blog, aren’t you?)

4. Ask about the stuff that you may not have even considered :

Now I don’t want to blind you with science, but you will hear a lot more about Customised Typography, Minimalist white space design, Multi Column grid systems, Modal Boxes, Lightbox interactive elements and Mega menu drop downs as time goes on. The “Big Players” are already adopting these kinds of design edges because they know it turns a visitor into a buyer and one pound into two. It’s not particularly expensive to add some of these elements and you should certainly have a closer look.

The business will be there for those that are sharpest. Will your site get the best of the catch?