They say time flies when you’re having fun, but can you believe that it is nearly 2019? We certainly can’t! As ever, the end of the year has left us feeling rather reflective about everything that has happened in 12 short months. So what has happened in website design and development in 2018? Well, a lot. But if we had to be selective, we’d say that animation, mobile-first design and user-focused design have each played a huge role. Here’s how.

Animation

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Maybe it’s the child in all of us, but there is something so delightful and intriguing about animations. Whether it’s a subtle movement as you hover over a button or a dynamic homepage that brings the brand to life, animation helps to draw you in. It makes you sit up and take note of what you’re looking at.

Take our Wild Worlds microsite as an example. In replicating the gorgeous papercraft style of Chester Zoo’s promotional video, we wanted to retain that sense of movement and depth. Leaves appear to sway in the wind as the sun grows bigger, helping to recreate the sense of wonder that people experience at the Wild Worlds festival. One of the most interactive elements of the site is the Wild Worlds Sound Board. Here, our animations perfectly complement the audio clips, to captivate young children and inspire them to learn more.

Looking forward to 2019, we are keen to make even greater use of animation on our sites. It’s a brilliant way of guiding users down a webpage, helping them to find content and then encouraging them to engage with it. Keep an eye out for more fun GIFs and animated logos!

 

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Mobile-First Design

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Last year, we predicted that responsive mobile-first design would be a major trend in website development, and we’re thrilled to say that we were right! With mobile-first design, smaller smartphone screens become a priority. Everything is designed to work perfectly at a more limited size with less bandwidth. That means users aren’t left constantly scrolling and zooming to try and read your content, fill out forms or click links in the menu.

 

 

 

A key sign of how important mobile-first design has become, was Google’s decision to include it as a ranking factor when indexing. Simply put, Google will place your website higher in search results if it can see that it is mobile-friendly. If it can’t find a mobile-friendly version of your site, your ranking may be negatively impacted.

At Ultimate, we truly believe that mobile-first design leads to a more pleasant and less frustrating experience for the user. That’s why all the websites we’ve developed in 2018 have been designed mobile-first. Check out our case study on Egyptian Cotton, a stunning and informative website that was designed mobile-first. Elegant and engaging pages like the timeline, fit perfectly on mobile screens without compromising the quality of design or clarity of the content.

As part of our mobile-first commitment, we produce a set of mobile website wireframes. These help us demonstrate to clientsthe huge difference that a mobile-first approach can make to the design of their website.

 

User-Focused Design

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Putting the user first has been a big focus of 2018 at Ultimate, as we’ve launched our new User Experience Testing service. We’ve had a brilliant time putting all our knowledge into action, and were particularly pleased to be shortlisted at the Big Chip Awards for ‘Best User Experience’ for our work with The Air Ambulance Service.

Going into 2019, we expect more and more clients to turn to us for help with user experience. We believe that people are becoming increasingly aware of just how important it is for businesses to recognise the needs and frustrations of their target audience. With so much choice out there, companies know that they need to deliver the very best user experience possible in order to drive and convert traffic. After all, there’s no point in having a strikingly attractive website if someone on a smartphone struggles to navigate it or load content in a reasonable time. You don’t want your website to be remembered for all the wrong reasons.

Together with our mobile-first approach, we use tools such as persona research, A/B testing, heat mapping, website analytics and video recording, to gain a greater understanding of what audiences are looking for on your site and how they would expect to find it. This vital information then informs our website design and development. It’s our goal to ensure that users leave our client’s sites happy, satisfied and content.


If you’re interested in how animation, mobile-first design and user experience could make a massive difference to your website performance, get in touch today!

Written by Anna Carruthers December of 2018