The Internet is constantly evolving. Long gone are the days of hopping on a clunky desktop and waiting for your dial-up connection to bring you to the world wide web; now we bring the web with us wherever we go. Smartphones and connected devices are everywhere, and as they continue to grow in popularity, web developers need to put more and more focus on the way people are using them. For your mobile site or app to succeed, you’ll want to keep a close eye on the latest trends in the mobile space.
You’re familiar with Siri, you may have used Google Now, you’ve certainly seen the commercials for Alexa even if you don’t own an Echo, and you might even be aware or Microsoft’s Cortana. Voice-first devices like Amazon’s line of Echo devices and Google’s Home are surging in popularity, and digital Voice Assistants (VA) aren’t leaving our phones anytime soon. In fact, despite running on Google’s Android platform, Samsung has come out with its own VA, Bixby, for its Galaxy phones, and Amazon has gotten its Alexa VA onto a few Android devices as well.
VAs are practically ubiquitous now, and as people come to use them more this will present developers with an opportunity to interact with users in new ways. “Screenless” interfaces will grow in popularity, as users become accustomed to speaking their inquiries instead of typing them out. The market for voice-first design is clearly there, which leaves developers with the challenge of how to best cater to this new way of interacting with web-enabled devices. Figuring that out will give you a leg up on the competition.
While VAs will have users less reliant on touching their screens to interact with their devices, that doesn’t mean users never want to look at their phones. After, all what’s the point of carrying around an HD display everywhere you go if you’re never going to use it to look at pictures or watch videos?
To really connect with users, however, developers and content producers will need to cater to the way they use their devices. Web traffic is becoming increasingly mobile, and a sizeable majority of mobile users prefer to hold their devices in portrait mode, so why not create content that looks good the way your users are already holding their devices? Traditional media like TV and movies may opt for landscape-style aspect ratios, but if your users are holding their phones in portrait mode you should create content that looks good in portrait mode.
Though there may have been much griping over the idea of vertical video when smartphones first rose to prominence, users’ insistence on shooting video in portrait video eventually lead industry giants like YouTube to give in and start displaying vertical videos in full screen. It may seem grating to anyone used to landscape video, but if your users consistently exhibit a pattern of behavior like holding their phones a certain way, it’s up to you to adapt, just as YouTube has.
Though ecommerce has been on the rise for years, much of the focus has been squarely on desktop interactions which have led the space over sales on mobile devices for some time. You’d be forgiven for thinking ecommerce sites should focus on their desktop sites for that reason–forgiven, but also wrong.
It is true that growth in the ecommerce space has not perfectly mirrored the rise of mobile devices, but the growth has still occurred. The issue at hand had not been that users don’t want to buy products using their smartphones, but simply that they’ve felt they can’t make those purchases, at least not easily. While smartphones are popular, they are still small devices compared with larger desktops or laptops, so ecommerce companies need to understand that there is less screen real estate to be had and design around that fact.
Even companies with massive inventories and tons of product categories have to think small for the small screen. Customers want to shop on their phones, and the trick to making a conversion is to create a simpler, touch-friendly user interface; don’t crowd the screen or require too many inputs. Successful ecommerce businesses like Groupon will do this by reducing screen clutter and presenting larger, easily tapped icons for users to interact with. You won’t be able to show off as many products as you would on your desktop site, but a cleaner, easier to view mobile experience will actually help your customers make purchases through their phones.
Staying on top of all the latest trends in web development and user expectations can feel overwhelming, but it’s an important part of any successful business’ growth strategy to keep a head of the curve and meet both customer needs and expectations.
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