Web design and development has definitely come a long way in those ten years. Changes in technology mean that we are now able to create websites that we wouldn’t have dreamt were possible when Bizboost was first established.
This 10-year milestone has made us stop to reminisce about these changes and I thought I would share a couple of them with you. Here are a few big changes we have had to keep up with….
1. Design Trends
Remember the websites that had music playing when you opened them, or scrolling text on the page? What about the animated gifs that popped up and tried to catch our attention? Often we would have sensory overload as we viewed a page and tried to find the information we were looking for. These days, the reflective surfaces, textured backgrounds and gradients have all been replaced with more minimal design and some well-chosen hero images that help communicate the message.
Short pages that required no scrolling were once the go but these are now slowly being replaced with long scrolling pages. This shift is mostly due to the devices that we are now viewing our websites on. It makes it easier for a visitor to simply scroll through the page on their smartphone or tablet, rather than needing to click from page to page.
Boxed layouts were also popular when we first started designing websites, with tables being used to control where content sat on the page. Now they are a big no-no, as they don’t allow the site to resize to fit all devices that a website might be viewed on.
Great slabs of text are also on their way out. Instead, minimalist dot point text with subheadings and links to more information are used as it allows readers to quickly absorb the information when they are on the go. It means we can get onto a site, find what we need and get out quickly… perfect for the busy lifestyles we now lead.
2. Websites you can update yourself
The websites we were designing 10 years ago were all HTML, using software programs such as Microsoft Front Page or Dreamweaver to build them. If our clients wanted to update their website themselves, they needed to buy and to learn how to use these programs themselves.
It was an exciting time when we were able to start building Content Management System (CMS) websites that allowed our clients to manage and update their own web pages without the need for costly software programs that were not very user-friendly. Now you can just do it using a browser window on any computer you like – if you want to that is!
WordPress websites have added a whole new dimension to what is possible on a CMS website with all the extra plugins and widgets that are available.
3. Google has become King of the search engines… AND he keeps changing his algorithms
Over the last 10 years, Google has left all its competitors in a cloud of dust.
More than ever it is important to be found in the search engines. It’s the first place the majority of people now go to find anything. I haven’t used the Yellow Pages for anything more than a door stop for years now.
The way we now make websites “search engine friendly” has changed considerably over 10 years. Some of the strategies we used in 2007 would now penalise our websites and send them way down the results list. Keyword Meta tags are out and just sensible keyword rich text on a page is in.
4. Faster internet (at least for most people)
We are still very aware of how slow the internet can be for many rural people and how limited their data allowance can be. But the truth of the matter is, generally speaking, the internet has improved immensely in 10 years.
Better internet allows us to do more with a website, such as included large hero images on the homepage, embedding YouTube videos and creating longer scrolling pages.
5. Screen Sizes
I still remember back to when we decided to start designing websites for a 1024px screen resolution because the stats told us that it was the most commonly used monitor. Now that size of monitor looks like a dinosaur. Websites now need to be easy to view on a huge range of devices and screen sizes – everything from watches to home movie screens.
6. Importance of being Mobile Responsive
The first BlackBerry had been released in 1999 and it did allow users to browse the internet. However, it only supported limited HTML and had a small monochrome screen. When Bizboost first started in 2007, the Blackberry Curve 8320 had just been released and featured a colour screen and a resolution of 320 x 240 pixels. The first ever iPhone wasn’t even released until later that year. At that time, browsing the internet from your mobile device was uncommon and not a factor we needed to consider when designing a website.
That has definitely changed since then.
In 2017, a large section of the population predominantly uses their smartphones or tablets to browse the web. Google also considers this when deciding what web pages should be ranked first in the search results. It can tell what device a person is using when searching for something. If they are browsing from their mobile, then Google is going to prioritise the pages that are mobile responsive in order to create a better experience for that person.
This is why we now create all new websites to be ‘responsive’, which means it adapts to the screen it’s being viewed in. While this was not something that was possible 10 years ago, it’s now essential for being found by a person when they are searching for a business on their mobile device.
7. Capabilities of Social Media when marketing a business
Back in 2007, we never dreamt that one day we would use Social media (such as Facebook) for marketing a business. We were so sure that it was just a passing phase. How wrong we were.
It was in early 2011 that we set up our Bizboost Facebook Business page and started helping our clients do the same. It’s now a really useful tool to market a business. We can even post adverts to targeted audiences and hopefully reach those that are in the market for the services or products we provide.
Embedding a Facebook Feed on a website is also a handy way to add fresh content to a website regularly.
8. Changes to Web Browsers we view our websites with
In 2007 we had started to hear about other web browsers, such as Netscape and Mozilla Firefox. However, 10 years ago, Microsoft Internet Explorer was the default internet browser that the majority of people used. Safari was still quite new for Mac users and Chrome didn’t even exist yet.
Then, over the years, these web browsers have been constantly updated. This made designing websites more challenging as we had to find ways to code a site to view the same way in all the various browsers.
In 2007, Internet Explorer 7 had just been launched and we are now up to version 11.0.36. We were using Mozilla Firefox 2.0 and now we are up to version 51.0. Chrome first launched in December 2009 and now we are up to version 56.0. These ongoing changes certainly keep us on our toes.
9. Extra Functionality
Back in 2007, websites were mostly not much more than a simple ‘brochure style’ website that had some information about the product or service that your business or organisation provided. Now they can be so much more than a static site. Many of our current clients have chosen to update their website with extra dynamic and interactive features to make the experience more user-friendly for visitors to their site. There’s a long list of things that are now possible – here’s just a few:
- Sortable tables that allow a visitor to search for data
- Scrolling photo galleries and albums
- Embedded videos from youtube and vimeo
- Social Media feeds
- Blog posts (that are optimised for search engines)
- Online stores that include postage calculators and that link directly with paypal accounts or accounting software
- Easy to use contact and order forms that can deliver enquiries or sales directly to your inbox
- Interactive calendars
- Booking forms
- Member only sections – to value add targeted information for your clients or members.
10. DIY Websites
There is a myriad of options now for people to build their own website and we are very mindful that it appears to be a much cheaper option for people, especially in the early days of setting up your business.
We also know that businesses and organisations are very busy with all the other aspects of running their business and providing their services or products without having to get their heads around the technically “geeky” aspect of building a professional and effective website that works in Google. That’s what we love to do – help you boost your business by keeping you up with the latest trends, leaving you free to get on with what you do best.
If all this has changed since Bizboost was first established, I can’t wait to see what’s still to come. I wonder what our websites and online marketing are going to look like in another 10 years’ time!