73

by Kathryn Good

Digital marketing trends and predictions for 2014

We've been reading about 2014 trends and predictions in web design, social media, SEO, content marketing and more for months. To sum it up for you, we've combined the trends that we think are most relevant to our customers and given you a little of our own opinon. So here's what's to come in 2014:  

Solid and simple (aka flat design)

"While dropping drop shadows and gradients often seems like a good idea in some cases to give a more updated look to things, Apple took it to a whole other level by dropping pretty much any design element it could. Apple has for a long time been a trendsetter, and what Apple does, the rest of the world seems to follow. iOS7 has been out for a while and already there are a flood of sites coming online every day with new “flat” designs. We don’t anticipate this trend ending in 2014." Source

Keystone’s Take

At our first meeting, our customers used to say “we want a site that pops” or “we really want to jazz this up.” Now we hear, “we want a simple and modern site.” There are trends in website design just like anything else, and Keystone can make jazz or simplicity happen. For us, it is more about figuring out how to best represent your brand, your messages and your culture on the ever-changing Internet.  

So long sliders

“Large hero areas (the “intro” area, often an image with a little amount of text, at the top of a website – a borrowed term from print design) on website home pages are running rampant...hero areas are quickly replacing sliders as the new attention-grabbers, and they are becoming increasingly creative and elaborate.”  Source

Keystone’s Take

We still have plenty of customers who want to use the scrolling sliders in the hero area to to display several messages quickly. We feel this can still be applicable to some organizations’ strategies, but overall we are encouraging the use of one prominent, gorgeous photo that clearly says something about the organization and makes a quick impression. 

Sites that keep going and going

“Simply put, infinite scrolling makes for a better user experience. To start, it allows users to remain on the same page instead of hopping between many different pages within your website. Also, it's much faster to continue to load one long page than to load multiple pages.” Source

Keystone’s Take

We are getting a lot of questions about this. "What about keeping everything above the fold?” Times change and readers are beginning to want to see all content without having to go to additional pages. Think about it. The percentage of people browsing from a mobile or tablet continues to increase dramatically. What’s easier on a phone – scrolling or waiting for pages to load? Yep scrolling. Plus, popular sites are doing it. Think about Facebook, Google Images, Pinterest, Tumbler. What do they do? Scroll. This design is still not for all of our customers quite yet, but we want you to understand why you are seeing more and more sites that keep on scrolling.

It’s time that your website looks good everywhere

Every website needs to be optimized for mobile. This means having responsive design and thinking about how people interact with your business via mobile devices should be one of your top priorities. As a small business it's time to make the switch to a mobile site if you haven't yet, and think about ways that you can get in front of your customers through their phone.” Source

Keystone ‘s Take

Responsive design is now something we recommend with every new web project. If your site is not optimized for mobile and tablets, give us a call to discuss your options.

When it comes to web content, less is more (but it has to be good)

“Not many areas on websites these days (except blog posts) have more than about 250 characters. It is because it is easier and faster to read for users who like to scan the page.” Source

Keystone’s Take

We’ve been pushing clients toward this for the last year, at least. You have seconds to reach your reader, and short paragraphs with targeted headlines help you do just that. Bulleted lists continue to be an effective way to display content, and make sure you have several calls-to-action (CTAs).

Businesses will finally understand inbound marketing

“Throughout 2014, I believe businesses will increasingly be able to explain what content marketing is, how it aligns with their larger business goals, and why it’s important.” Source

Keystone’s Take

Amen. We have this conversation weekly, if not daily. SEO is changing; social media is changing. It is all about the content you release – content that is consistent and focused on the customer. Blogging is the best way to do this. If you don’t have a blog, it is past time. We can turn one on for you and give you some tips; just let us know. 

Know that your content is successful

“In 2014, brands will seek out a clearer, more cost-effective strategy that requires fewer logins and enables them to see the whole picture of their content marketing efforts in one tool.” Source

Keystone’s Take

We’re already seeing this happen. Our content management system – Kentico – has a brand new marketing platform called EMS. We are learning the ins and outs of it still, but are excited to see all it will do. And several customers have already bought in, as well.

Get on Google+

“Google+ is proving itself to be an integral part of Google's grand scheme in terms of SEO, social signals, and providing a more personalized search experience. If you don't have a Google+ account, this should be the year you resolve to try it out.” Source

Keystone’s Take

We know - it’s been slow to take off, but Google+ is proving to be very helpful for some of our customers when it comes to SEO, especially local search. If you don’t have a blog, start one before you even think about getting active on Google+ but do go ahead and claim your page. If you have an active blog, you should optimize your Google+ page and post links to your blog posts. If you need an intro to social media, we encourage you to read our Social Media Basics ebook. 

If you are looking to catch up to current trends, stay ahead of your competition or just want to try something new, let us help you. 

What are your marketing goals for 2014?