Website Design, Graphic Design and Overall Branding Strategy have trends which run on often routine cycles. However, the advancement of digital technologies in recent years has rapidly evolved the ways in which web content is produced, found, viewed and consumed.
As technologies advance to alter user behaviour – it is essential that businesses look to their website – their greatest digital asset – and are constantly assessing its suitability against these current advancements. Countless studies have shown the rampant rate at which mobile display has overtaken and continuously grown over desktop. In 2020 alone, the split globally had reached almost 70% in favour of mobile – and it is a safe assumption that 2021 will show further evidence of this continuation.
The above advancement is one of the many which are changing the landscape of website design, development and continual management. With the also growing focus which search engines such as Google are placing on Page Experience and overall usability are too enforcing a more rapid sense of change in the best practices when it comes to making certain that a businesses website is still 100% fit for purpose.
Therefore – with all of the above considered, this article will look to consider these two major changes and what impact their increasing prominence will have on the design of websites. Focusing on the idea that it is certainly time for every business (irrespective of industry) should be seriously considering a complete overhaul of their website as we enter into 2022.
Website Design: Mobile Usability & Experience
As aforementioned, the continuing increase of mobile web traffic over desktop cements mobile usability as one of the main cornerstones when it comes to the design and layout of any website. With many elements of web pages needing to have content that is responsive to a smaller view on these devices over desktop. Emphasis is being placed by search engines and browsers alike to ensure these ‘mobile-friendly’ sites are the ones performing best organically.
An element that will be addressed later in this article is surrounding Google’s recent and upcoming Page Experience updates, though when considering the mobile usability elements of this – there is certainly nothing new in their approach. Rather than additional page experience updates will focus more heavily on the user experience of desktop users.
Since 2015, Google has in fact, continued to increase the relevance of mobile friendliness as a major ranking factor. Any professional operating in website development or SEO has therefore looked to adapt as best as possible to these changes over the last 6/7 years.
But it is not only search engines which need to be considered with this factor. As demonstrated in the shift toward a 70% exclusivity of mobile web views – it is clear that users’ habits on websites will change dramatically. Traditionally, users would give a much longer window of time for a website to load before they would choose to bounce and pursue other avenues. Though with the progression of mobile data speeds becoming faster, their patience with slow sites will begin to dwindle.
A mobile friendly website is – in one way – a positive ranking signal to search engines and in another is certainly a way to keep users interested in one business’ site rather than that of a competitor. Having content that is fast, responsive and user-friendly is a must when looking at the ways in which a business’ website can be accessed by search engines and users in 2022 and beyond.
Website Design: Google’s Page Experience Updates
Through 2021, Google staggered two new page experience updates in June and July respectively. Then ranking factors and signals which were paid careful attention to focused primarily on the usability, performance and responsiveness of sites on mobile devices.
However, it has now since been confirmed that these ranking factors will now have a similar focus applied to them in the latest rollout commencing February through to March 2022. Core Web Vitals, such as; Loading (Largest Contentful Paint or LCP), Interactivity (First Input Delay or FID) Visual Stability (Cumulative Layout Shift or CLS) will be amplified as ranking signals with the rollout of the latest page experience update in relation to desktop.
The additional focus on Core Web Vitals alongside existing parameters regarding the signals given to Google in respect of HTTPS Security and Absence of Intrusive Interstitials are now going to be major search signals for page experience.
Accounting for these latest developments it demonstrates a clear need for businesses whose website has not had any redevelopment or ongoing optimisation for a significant period of time that they will certainly begin to see their rankings and overall online performance slide without implementing key changes.
The good news is, with 3 months before the latest page experience update rolls out – there is ample time for business owners and marketing managers to prepare for this and have necessary developments, fixes and redesigns carried out on various parts and/or their entire website. It should also be noted that Google has indicated that as they will be gradually implementing this over around a 60 day period, the overall impact to rankings should not be incredibly severe in most cases. Again, with the staggering of this anticipated update it will also give business owners the opportunity to observe and mitigate their sites as the update takes effect.
It should certainly be noted that there are always developments on the industry standard best practices of website design and optimisation. As well as the fact that there are also many other reasons which a business could choose to re-develop their site in the near future, other than the ones listed in this article. However, on balance, it seems to be the fact that these two changes being observed are certainly the most important when looking at the viability of continuing with a, perhaps, poor performing and outdated website.