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Staying Ahead of the Curve in 2018

abstract image of a curve
January 5, 2018

It’s been an exciting year for SAI Digital. We’ve launched new websites and applications, received awards for our work, and attended and presented at several conferences and events. As we reflect on 2017’s successes and lessons learned, we’re looking forward to another year of providing first-class customer service to our clients and staying current with digital trends. Wondering what your organization should focus on in the new year? Keep reading—we’ve rounded up the top things to watch for in 2018.

Jeanne

Animations

Animations were a top trend in 2017—and we predict they will continue to rise in popularity. Not only do animations give your website an interactive feel, they are becoming an increasingly critical part of functionality. Animations can enhance the user experience by drawing attention to the actions you want visitors to take, illustrating key concepts, and showing in-depth information in limited spaces.

As you make improvements in your website this year, think about how subtle animations can help make your content more engaging and helpful for your users. Note the word subtle; with animations, moderation is key. Too many animations can create an overwhelming user experience or slow down your site’s performance.

Rachel

Audience-first Content

I’m looking forward to putting the audience first when developing content strategy and writing for the web in 2018. With so many different channels competing for your audience’s attention, maintaining an audience-focused approach is paramount. Focusing on simple questions like these will help guide you as you craft your message:

  • Who is the audience?
  • What are their goals?
  • How can this content help this audience meet their goals?

It’s tempting to try to make content one-size-fits-all, but when you try to reach everyone with the same message, you end up reaching no one. This is why we recommend an audience-first approach when developing your information architecture and content strategy. When you start with the users’ needs and goals vs. a blanket approach, you’re more likely to hit the target audience.

three students looking at a computer screen

Jessica

Typography

On my radar for 2018: big, bold, beautiful typography. There are three important factors influencing the move towards enhanced typography on the web: accessibility, performance, and open-source font libraries. As we work towards making all sites meet accessibility guidelines, legibility and readability of fonts is critical. More sites are moving towards clean, well-rendered fonts sized and spaced appropriately to make the overall reading experience much more pleasant.

Along with accessibility, more sites are striving to improve performance as well. Part of that is reducing the reliance on larger images for impact as these large files weigh down page load times. Instead, many are opting to implement a stronger typographic approach. Thanks to services such as Google Fonts, more organizations have access to open-source web font libraries that offer a multitude of style options to support any site design, large or small. The addition of icon font libraries like Font Awesome and Google's Material Icons also means that scalable icons can be added as graphic elements to any design without increasing page size and reducing the need to create additional vector graphics. It’s a win-win for designers, developers, and website users.

Icons on a computer screen

Mark

Privacy & Compliance

Compliance is definitely not a sexy topic, but it's an important area to focus on in 2018 nonetheless. If you haven’t heard already, web accessibility has become increasingly important. Start the year off right by making sure you have the tools and processes in place to keep your website compliant with WCAG 2.0 Level AA accessibility guidelines. It is important that you implement accessibility guidelines not just once, but on an ongoing basis.

The protection of personal information remains in focus for 2018 as well. If you do business with customers in the European Union (EU), remember that the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) goes into effect this May. The GDPR makes sweeping changes to how you handle your EU customers' personal information and how you must get consent to use their personal data to contact them or to market to them. Complying with current regulations is not only the right thing to do—it will keep you, and your business, out of trouble.

Timothy

Accessible Sites

The watershed moment for web accessibility is here. How do we know? Even “adult websites” have implemented accessibility features to aid blind and low vision users. If an adult website can be accessible, your organization doesn't have an excuse anymore. Don't wait until you get a letter from a lawyer or complaints from users. Put an accessibility strategy meeting on the calendar for January 2018. Start small if you need to, but start!

Teddy

Browser Support for New CSS Features

As a developer, I'm looking forward to seeing broader browser support for new CSS features and more tools to help collaborate on component libraries. These features and tools will allow us to create cleaner and more efficient code for our clients’ websites.

Dustin

VR Websites

While not directly related to development, a big trend I'm looking forward to seeing more of in 2018 is the continued emergence, support, and availability of virtual reality (VR) websites. I’m excited to see websites push the boundaries of the web into a virtual, 3D space for not only marketing, but entertainment, information, and learning. This provides users with a brand new, immersive experience sure to make an impact. I think we'll finally see if this is just a fad, or if it is the direction of things to come in the digital world.

Girl wearing VR headset

Conclusion

What does your digital strategy look like? What are you planning to focus on in 2018? If you have questions about what to prioritize this year, let’s talk. Get in touch with us today.

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