What Your Website Needs for 2015

The best way to guarantee a prosperous new year is an up-to-date company website. This article describes a few of the most important features your site needs going into 2015.

Responsive Website Design

Responsive design allows your website to automatically adjust for optimal viewing on desktops, tablets and smartphones. With so many people using mobile devices for Internet access, responsive design has quickly moved from a luxury item to a must-have feature.

The best approach to responsive Web design is to start by designing for the smartphone and working "backwards" to the desktop monitor. This is especially important for certain retail and service businesses such as restaurants and medical practices, where users are accessing the organization's site from a mobile device for key activities like making a reservation or an appointment.

Large, Stunning, Static Home Page Header Image

Thankfully, image sliders are on the way out as the featured design element on a home page. Sliders (rotating images) deliver a notoriously awful user experience, whereas a static image with powerful imagery enables you to convey the key messaging points about your brand and value proposition that stick with users.

Stunning Imagery Everywhere Else

With the surge in mobile Internet use, strong imagery is becoming more important than ever. On smaller screens, reading large volumes of text is uncomfortable - and boring. Telling your story in images creates a far stronger user experience.

Beware: As more sites employ custom imagery, drab, stock photography looks shabbier than ever on a company site, hurting the brand and deterring conversions.

Flat Design

Anyone who uses an iPhone is quite familiar with flat design. Its simplicity derives from leaving out fancy design elements such as gradients and shadows. Not only does flat design provide an excellent user experience, it also allows Web pages to load more quickly, which further enhances user experience and provides a big plus for SEO. 2015's most well rounded sites will be flat.

More White Space and Vertical Scrolling

In the old days, cramming as much information as possible above the fold was the goal. A site's home page often looked like a carnival. But again - thankfully -- mobile use is exerting a big influence on Web design: On a smartphone, there really isn't a fold and there's certainly no reason to cram anything.

Because mobile Internet users are accustomed to vertical scrolling, savvy Web designers take advantage of this comfort level by producing site pages (especially home pages) that (a) tell a story and (b) incorporate a lot of white space. By doing so, companies present their value in a way that is both persuasive and easy on the eye.

Interactive Elements

Giving users an opportunity to interact will be a more frequent occurrence in 2015. Whether with a poll, information request form, product feedback/rating form, appointment scheduling app, or something else, users will expect company sites to be vehicles for two-way communication rather than one-way infomercials.

While this development adds design complexity, the payoff is big: More interaction means more conversions, more leads, more sales and more loyal customers. And isn't all that really why you have a company site in the first place?

About the Author: Brad Shorr is the B2B Marketing Director of Straight North - an Internet marketing agency that understands web design. Brad is a respected blogger and content marketing strategist.