I know, I know - another "my predictions for 2021" post. But read on as I hope it might have some good ideas for you - or tell you something you didn't already know!
2020 pushed technology forward - things companies had been working on for a while they perhaps pushed out the door a bit sooner than they'd expected to. Or products got more use, sooner than expected. Brands which didn't want an online ordering app or restaurants which always wanted to continue table service found they needed technology - and the web, underneath a lot of it - to help them carry on trading in a time when we couldn't be physically close to people.
So what does 2021 hold?
1) More of the same
So the first one is obvious - at least until the Spring, or Easter, or April, or the Summer depending on your personal level of optimism. We're going to need to keep looking for ways to manage this "new normal", and a lot of those ways are going to stick around long after people are vaccinated. Offices won't be used as frequently, so tools like Zoom, MSTeams, Iszy, Yapster, Slack - the list goes on - to keep people connected will become more and more common place. Meanwhile apps for check ins or confirming test results will start springing up, along with more work around digital events (a space Zoom are moving into) due to people in the events industry not wanting to put things off any longer. It's a great time for technology, so let's see where else it can take us!
2) Speed and SEO
On a more granular level, Google's Core Web Vitals is going to come into effect in the algorithm from May 2021 so now is the time to start preparing your site for it. Over at my day job with 18a we did a lot of Core Web Vitals work during 2020 to get a client who can receive over 2,000,000 visitors a day ready for these forthcoming big Google changes.
The updates look at very specific metrics around UX and site speed - I'm going to be releasing some videos over the coming weeks so leave your email address below or follow me on Instagram if you want to learn more as they launch.
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3) The demise of the classic letterbox hero image
A website starting with a large full width image at the top of a page has become a web design classic. It does get a little boring when you see it everywhere, but - hey - it's a staple of WordPress Premium Themes and therefore it really dominates design trends.
However, it doesn't sit hand in hand with Core Web Vitals... so I think we could see a shift amongst savvy designers who have their heads in a technical place as well as a creative one to make an impact with images and colours in a different way to what we've grown so used to. Personally, I'll be happy with that sift as it can be a mission to find good letter box shaped images that work on all devices!
4) 3rd Party Bolt Ons
Over the years I've noticed clients more and more hooking in / integrating / bolting on - however you want to put it - outside services which do a specific task. From things to update your TripAdvisor listing, to ways to collect content or build forms, to services to help you run a lottery; everyday there are new start ups, products and services that you can use.
Whilst you need to make sure you tell your customers when you're passing their details to a third party in order to stay compliant with GDPR, using an outside tool like this can reduce a lot of the overhead of maintaining products and services yourself. Often for a small(ish) monthly fee you can have features which yes, you could have built yourself, but which will be maintained for you and you won't be paying your developer to work on the feature more when Chrome updates how they handle cookies or when jQuery needs upgrading.
With #1 on this list and the Pandemic moving people more and more towards quick solutions to issues they're facing as regulations change over night, I think this is a sector which could see a boom time in 2021.
Maybe it's just me, maybe it's just the work I'm doing lately over at 18a, but I feel like there is CONSTANTLY so much more we can do for security. Actually, it's not me - it's GDPR. It's since GDPR has come into force and people face fines if they have a data breach, that people are thinking more about what they can do to protect themselves and (a) avoid a data breach and (b) at least be able to tell the ICO they did all they could if they need to.
I've written about the new normal of online security so check out that post if you missed it. Hackers are getting cleverer/more inventive (or, probably, just more plentiful), and technology is moving on faster than ever - there is always more you can do to protect yourself, your customers and data.
So that's a very condensed list of ideas of what 2021 might bring. Let me know on Instagram if you can think of any more!