It is no secret that the online space is competitive and changes quickly. With customers in nearly three dozen different countries, nobody knows that better than our talented team of web designers.
Whether your focus is on UX or UI, the end goal of designing any online platform is to attract more users, keep those users on your platform longer, and motivate them to take meaningful action.
If you want to remain competitive, have a look at this list of 10 of the biggest web design trends you can expect to see in 2015.
1. Large Background Images
Full-width background images and videos have emerged recently, and their popularity does not show any signs of slowing. Paired with large, bold, and rich typography and parallax effects, these background images create a visually impressive experience.
2. Responsive Designs
Responsive design most certainly is not a new trend. In fact, designing websites to load beautifully on devices of every size has been happening for several years now.
What you can expect to see are new iterations of responsive designs, with a mobile-first approach to all web layouts. It is important for branding purposes for any web-based platform to provide a consistent experience regardless of device type.
3. Vibrant Colors
Colors that make a bold, vibrant and often unexpected statement are rising in popularity. This is especially true when contrasted against muted background colors.
This type of bright color usage is very effective when combined with significant transitions, animations, and large typography.
4. SVG Elements
Scalable vector graphics, often shorted to SVG, allow images to look sharp on any screen size. They can be easily animated and go a long way to reducing overall load time.
The prevalence of SVG usage will rise heavily in 2015.
5. Interactive Elements
Studies repeatedly show that users who enjoy an engaging and interactive online experience are more likely to emotionally identify with a brand.
Most importantly, users who are able to create a memorable experience online tend to spend a longer time on your website.
You can expect to see an increased level of interactivity between users and websites this year.
6. Large Typography
We have already alluded to this point, but the trend continues that large and bold fonts are being favored in all areas of web design – not just when used as headlines.
This means the emphasis is now on saying more with less, and improved readability.
7. Ghost Buttons
In case you are not familiar, a ghost button is similar to a standard button on a website – except it is completely transparent. Ghost buttons are often implemented with hover animations, and look excellent when contrasted against a full-width background image.
Although this could be considered a fairly small trend, the use of ghost buttons is increasing and we will definitely see more of them in 2015.
8. Plenty of Scrolling
Largely due to the prevalence of mobile web browsing, scrolling will be favored this year over clicking. This is the main reason that one-page web designs were first introduced. In most cases, users would prefer to scroll the length of one longer page than navigate to multiple different pages.
Another scrolling trend will be the use of horizontal scrolling functionality. This allows all the website content to appear above the fold in a slideshow format instead of navigating to additional pages.
Both executed as mixture of branding and user engagement, storytelling is now a prominent aspect of many popular web designs.
Storytelling focuses on a minimalist web design, such that each carefully placed element serves a purpose in directing the user to what he or she should be doing next.
10. Remove Distractions
As touched upon in the previous point, minimalist web designs are favored over cluttered content with multiple calls to action – aka distractions.
Everything that is non-essential will be removed in 2015.
This may include removing large headers, unnecessary navigational menus, multiple images, sidebars, and more. In most cases, it also means sticking to a fairly simple color scheme.
While this list certainly represents some significant trends to keep an eye on, it is not exhaustive.
The online world changes every day, and we want to hear your input.
Did we miss a web design trend you think is worth noting?
Let us know with a comment below.
Over the past 12 years, our professional team of 150+ individuals has had the pleasure of delivering more than 1000 projects in nearly three dozen countries.
Unfortunately, we have also worked with a number of clients who fell for false promises and unrealistic claims made by other so-called web development companies.
In this short article, we hope to help you avoid disappointment, frustration, and lost earnings by offering guidance in the selection process.
When it comes to choosing a web development company, who do you trust? How do you know who to work with?
Elance, oDesk, Guru & More
Thanks to the unprecedented global reach of the internet, numerous freelancing platforms have emerged in recent years. Virtually anybody can create a profile on a website like Elance, oDesk, Guru, and several others – and in turn proclaim him or herself to be an expert of any variety.
While there are some freelancers online who can deliver a high quality development project, we would caution that most cannot compete with the results of an established web development company.
- Freelancers do not have the reputation of an established brand to maintain or protect.
- Freelancers will often favor rapid turnaround over client satisfaction.
- Attaining authentically verified credentials for a freelancer is next to impossible.
- In most cases, revisions, changes, and iterations will result in an additional expense.
Of course, these generalizations are not true in every instance – but they certainly do present enough risk to make sourcing a credible web development company a good idea.
How to Choose a Web Development Company
Choosing the right web development company will vary significantly based upon your individual needs. That said, what we are aiming to do here is to provide a list of seven questions you should use to vet prospective companies.
Can they suggest a plausible solution based on your budget and timeline?
To begin, you need to be transparent with a prospective web development company about your budget, timeline, projected ROI, and specific needs. Those needs may include an increase in lead generation or other measurable targets.
From there, let the web development company provide you with an appropriate solution.
If the company you have contacted is expecting you to describe the solution you need, it is a possible indication of a ‘one and done’ approach to serving their clients.
Can they provide a realistic action plan to achieve that solution?
Once that solution has been clearly established, ask the company how they intend to deliver that solution.
- What specific actions steps will be taken?
- What sort of timeline is this company projecting?
Any claim made by the company should be backed up in writing. If they aren’t willing to substantiate their claims with a legal contract, do not proceed.
What methods or processes will they follow to complete your project?
It is important to have a solution and an action plan – but what methodology or processes will be followed to achieve those actions?
To put it in lay terms,
- The solution is to eat a pizza.
- The action is to order a pizza.
- The methodology is to have that pizza ready and delivered.
Although that may be oversimplifying things, presenting ‘order a pizza’ as an action step does not explain how delivery of that pizza will be facilitated.
How do they measure and track results?
Before beginning any web development project, it is important to note how success will be defined. What milestones will be measured, and what will success look like?
This should be quantifiable. And if the company has confidence in their ability to deliver exceptional service, they should be enthusiastic to provide you with detailed analytics throughout development.
How established is their business?
It is a good idea to establish whether or not this web development company has a proven track record of success. Although it is not the only indicator to consider, investigate:
- How many years have they been in business?
- How large is their team?
- How many clients do they serve?
- Where is their office located?
Do they have references and an extensive portfolio?
Before hiring a company, give consideration to past web development projects they have done.
- What types of projects do they do most often?
- Do any of the samples they are showing you pertain to your project?
- Can they connect you with previous clients who can provide a reference?
What type of ongoing support do they offer?
As with any web development project, there will be modifications, upgrades, improvements, and new iterations to develop.
Does this web development company offer any type of ongoing support, or will you be on your own to deal with any technical challenges that arise later?
As the old adage goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
While it may seem excessive, a credible web development company should be willing to satisfy your every curiosity prior to taking on your project. After all, the burden of proof with respect to expertise is on them.
Choosing the right web development company will show in the finished product, especially if their development team follows a distributed Agile methodology.
But just about anyone can claim to be an expert in their field, so doing a little digging at the onset can save a ton of headaches down the road.
Agile development is a common methodology used to approach development projects. It takes a flexible, teamwork-based approach to development that has proven to be very successful.
But what about startups?
Can a startup firm in the technology sector benefit from the application of Agile methodology?
To answer this question, we will first need to explore the unique challenges facing startups.
The Nature of Startup Life
A startup firm is often loosely defined as a new business that is not profitable, and the business owners are okay with that – it is a time to innovate, grow, and develop.
It is worth noting that being part of a startup can be very exciting. For instance:
- Things are constantly changing each day.
- Everything moves along quickly.
- You are working on ‘the next big thing.’
- You are surrounded by creativity and passion.
Unfortunately, because of the excitement, rapid growth, and abundance of creative ideas, challenges are likely to arise as well.
- The business does not have a defined roadmap.
- Approaches to development are disorganized and chaotic.
- Early market reactions do not provide sufficient data to adjust long-term strategies.
And these are just to name a few. An infographic published by Clarity offers a very comprehensive list of struggles faced by many new startups:
The missing key to successful growth for most startups is to have an action plan for development – one that is flexible and dynamic.
At first glance, it appears that Agile development methodology may be an effective solution.
What Makes Agile Development Methodology Effective
Agile development allows for flexibility, especially if immediate change is required. The core concepts of this development model include the use of sprints, backlogs, daily standup meetings, and user stories.
Let’s review each.
- User stories – Feedback from users serves as a leading indicator in terms of what needs to happen next
- Sprints – These are short phases of development that are planned with input from the entire team. A single sprint can be as short as a week
- Backlogs – These are complete lists of priorities and next steps that need to be addressed. The items appearing on a backlog often originate from user stories
- Daily standup meetings – Sometimes referred to as scrum meetings, daily standups identify what needs to be done, and any issues that need to be collaborated on that day for fast resolution
In short, the Agile method is an effective approach because it breaks down development into small pieces. From documentation to testing, newly developed features can be ready for deployment in as little as a week.
This contributes to increased transparency, team synergy, and effective problem solving.
The Process of Agile Development
To get a better understanding of how Agile methodology is applied to development projects, let’s review the steps necessary to successfully complete a single print:
- The development team meets and creates a backlog
- The team defines their next burst of development – a sprint
- User stories help to identify who will be responsible for different components in the sprint
- The sprint begins
- Daily standup meetings are held, allowing each team member to state his or her progress, projected progress, and any outstanding challenges
- At the end of the sprint, what went did and did not go well is reviewed
From there, the process repeats itself.
The beauty of Agile development is that it permits everyone on the team to provide input, ask questions, and gain a greater understanding of the intended outcome.
It is a fun, engaging, and teamwork-based approach to development.
Does Agile Methodology Work for Startups?
To answer this question, let’s compare several factors.
- Startups require development to happen quickly.
- Agile methodology breaks development into short sprints.
- Startup teams work very closely together.
- Agile methodology takes a teamwork-based approach to problem solving.
- Startups depend upon every individual to contribute ideas.
- Agile methodology requires input from every team member.
- Startups depend upon user feedback to define priorities.
- Agile methodology has teams develop backlogs based on user stories.
In conclusion, Agile development methodology is a perfect fit for most startups. It helps to alleviate the chaos and disorganization that startup teams often face.
As with any project, a clear roadmap for success and a structured approach to development goes a long way.
Choosing to implement the Agile method in your startup provides a way to keep things moving quickly, maintain a teamwork based atmosphere, and ensure that every team member has a say.
The key to Agile methodology, whether your development team is on-site or offshore, is segmenting large projects into smaller pieces, and maintaining clear communication between all team members.
Do you believe the Agile method is a good fit for your startup?
Why, or not why?
Leave a comment below – we would love to hear from you.
The web has changed over the past few years – the amount of things we can now do online, as well as the way we construct our day-to-day lives around the web and communication, has meant that different software development techniques in the digital sphere have risen to prominence in recent years.
Let’s explore a blend of two different types of development techniques – Outsourcing along with Agile Development
Where does outsourcing agile development fit in for me?
A distributed environment, one where not all work is completed in the same space, has become commonplace within today’s businesses, and for agile development as a process to work efficiently has to be able to work well in this environment.
Fortunately, with the right lines of communication in place, distributed agile development adds a huge amount of value when outsourcing work, no matter where you are. The collaboration and relationship of a distributed team adds up a great deal – and it can fit right in to your team as long as you follow some essential guidelines on how to make distributed agile development work for you.
- Created ‘rich’ lines of communication to counteract the relatively small amount of quality face-to-face time with distributed work
- Create frequent deliverables within a distributed agile environment
- Get clear, well-written guidelines and objectives so everyone knows what to expect.
Faster and more flexible delivery
There are many key features of agile development that mean many major companies in the software development and IT industries are adopting this way of thinking.
The table below indicates some features and benefits of agile development – as well as some of the challenges that you may across in the process of making outsourcing work for your business.
Why agile development outsourcing is popular
Outsourcing any software development gives a business a wealth of options – it opens up the market to be able to choose from a wide range of amazing talent from all sectors of society in almost any part of the world.
Outsourcing also gives you the ability to monitor the quality of your development, plan and give certain tasks to others, and manage your costs by choosing from a wider workforce pool. With online working and the popularity of remote working, outsourcing agile development and finding creative working solutions to tasks means there is a lot more time for you and your business to concentrate on the bottom line.
Outsourcing Agile Development – Weighing up the Options
In order to be able to make the most of your outsourcing options, there will inevitably be a certain amount of advantages and disadvantages. Here are a few things you or your business may want to think about.
Your motives for outsourcing
You need to be clear at all stages of the process why you want to outsource work and what benefit is for you or your business. It may be a cost implication, it may be a time saving or it may be a specific person you’d like to work with who may be based remotely. You need to be sure agile development is for you and judge your outsourcing needs within this context.
The evaluation of your potential team
Agile Development is all about building trust, good working relationships and maintaiinng excellent communication throughout. It should be fairly evident from a relatively early stage if this relationship isn’t going to sustain, and it’s important to use thorough evaluation processes within your team when it comes to choosing the right outsourcing partner. For example, discuss delivery projections, costs, time differences, differences in working practises – the more information you can get the better.
Is this the best option for my business?
One excellent by-product of outsourcing agile development is that it gives you a fantastic amount of choice – choice in who you work with, flexibility with times and budgets and flexibility in the work that’s ultimately delivered. Bear in mind however that there is more than one way around a problem, and make sure you are ready for outsourcing before you commit. There are many other training, in-house development or self-learning options that could help your busines too.
Tips to Overcome Challenges
Agile product management company Version One has an excellent guide to making the most out of agile outsourcing, but here are some tips to point you in the right direction.
It makes sense within an agile environment to keep a close eye on how your outsourcing partners are working. There are many ways of doing this – from sharing Google Spreadsheets to using pieces of task management software such as Trello or DropTask.
Keep good communication
It may be difficult, but keeping good communication really is key. Using Skype and task management software is the best way to do this, but avoid overusing and micro-managing. Keep a routine and schedule, so catch up once a week, for example.
Account for delay and time differences
We all want things to be done yesterday, but accounting for the unexpected, and the difficulties that come with time differences, is really important for a successful working relationship. Schedule proper phone conversations – as context can easily be lost through email.
There may be certain precautions you need to take, but despite this, if you are willing to commit to an agile process and retain excellent communication throughout you will find outsourcing as one of the best working model and reap substantial benefits out of it.
We’ve seen through the course of this post that there are a certain amount of relationship, development and communication challenges to overcome, but making sure you use trusted project managers from a respected outsourcing agile development firm is one excellent way of making sure everything runs smoothly.
Everyone seems to be excited and talking about Agile product development these days. Let’s see why.
Getting a product to market is more challenging and competitive than ever before. Adaptability is crucial, and many traditional product development methods overlook the importance of that flexibility.
It’s not that traditional development methods are inherently bad – they simply lack in the necessary flexibility to be effective. The primary objectives of product development are to reduce time to market, increase product quality, and save money, all while delivering a product that exceeds client expectations.
To begin this guide, let’s review the Waterfall model, a more traditional approach to product development that you may already be familiar with.
The Waterfall Development Model
If you can imagine progress flowing from top to bottom in a cascading fashion, you will begin to get a sense of the allegorical origins of the ‘Waterfall’ method.
First used in the manufacturing and construction industries, the Waterfall model follows a sequential design process. In other words, each of its seven phases of development must be satisfied in order to move on to the next. If an error occurs in a later phase, the Waterfall model necessitates returning to an earlier phase in the sequence.
In essence, this results in having to retrace a number of steps in between. Needless to say, a mistake in a later phase can be both expensive and time-consuming.
To put it simply, a model that relies upon moving through only one of seven sequential phases at a time will be slow, tedious, and without flexibility.
Thankfully, the Agile product development methodology has demonstrated the ability to overcome these limitations.
What Is Agile Product Development?
The Agile model calls for a team-based approach to problem solving and product development. As opposed to Waterfall, which takes a sequential approach to task completion, Agile boxes development into phases called ‘sprints.’
Product development using Agile development methodology keeps priorities focused based on their perceived value to the client. As work is completed, conclusions are drawn to considering the timing and planning for upcoming sprints.
The bottom line is that continual input from the client is a necessary component to the Agile model.
Types of Agile Product Development
The Agile product development methodology, as flexible as it is, is often known to take on one of the following variations:
- Extreme Programming (XP): Ideal for software development projects, this variation incorporates many real world applications observed by developers.
- Dynamic System Development Model (DSDM): This variation incorporates the concepts of iteration, incremental delivery, and customer collaboration.
- Scrum: A variation that concentrates on taking an iterative and incremental approach to managing tasks within a team-based environment.
- Lean Development (LD): This variation is best known for creating a smooth workflow, a mentality of ownership, elimination of unnecessary waste, and a demand for high skill levels.
Certainly there are numerous variations to the Agile model, but Scrum is the most widely adopted Agile methodology for its proven effectiveness in development projects.
Process for Agile Product Development
Regardless of the variation on the model itself, the phases – or sprints – of product development using Agile methodology are fundamentally similar to Waterfall:
The main difference, as outlined above, is that input is required from the client upon completion of each phase. This generally results in a more transparent approach to completing the job, early delivery, predictable costs, a more engaging end-user experience, and ultimately more flexibility with respect to unforeseen changes.
Agile Product Development Methodology Is Ideal
A lack of speed and flexibility tend to be the downfall of onshore and offshore product development alike, most often the result of using outdated product development models.
While Waterfall may follow a predictable and routine series of phases, it often overlooks the small yet crucial details necessary in the early phases of the project. It also overemphasizes the end goal, without the due respect and attention the in between steps deserve.
On the other hand, product development using Agile methodology keeps the focus on project quality, customer requirements, and carefully prioritized work phases, or sprints.
Consider using Agile product development methodology for your next major project – the flexibility and team-oriented collaboration will add immeasurable value to the final product.