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Three growing trends for business web development in 2015

Written by Jess Lepore | 12-Jan-2015 13:45:00

We’ve examined three key trends for 2015 across three areas: delivery, design and data.

It seems that too few businesses understand the opportunity cost of delaying a move to the mobile web; in delivery, we’ve noticed that a shockingly low percentage of big businesses are implementing responsive websites (sites which scale in size across device types).

In design, we’re seeing continued growth in the use of webfonts and smooth transitions with more fonts available for the web than ever and more options than ever to smoothly animate elements. These two design trends are likely to continue growth and keep web designers busy.

In data, we’re seeing more options than ever to personalise a web experience for each user. With services available to use available data to make a more individual and relevant web experience, there will certainly be excited conversations in boardrooms discussing what can be done with the data available.

1. Delivery: responsive still won’t be popular enough

2014 saw smartphone ownership rates jump by more than 20%, and mobile data usage grow by over 80% (see KPCB’s 2014 Internet Report). I’ve seen a fair few numbers in my life, and these figures are more than impressive, they tell a story.

We said it last year and we’ll say it again, responsive is going to continue to grow.

While research carried out by Restive Labs showed that an abysmally low 14.7% of Fortune 1000 company websites are fully responsive, it’s no surprise as redesigning a website (particularly a responsive one) isn’t cheap. It is, however,surprising that not all new websites are being built with responsive in mind. To many decision makers, responsive doesn’t seem to be a high enough priority.

Our own research for our charity whitepaper, which reviewed 129 charity websites, found that over 70% of charities do not have fully responsive homepages either, so this is a problem not just reserved for the Fortune 1000 sites.

comScore shouted out that 60% of our time spent doing ‘digital’ things is done from a tablet or mobile. It seems that 2015 will be the year when laggard executives pick up a smartphone and see their site on mobile for the first time – they’re late to the party, but at least they’re here.

Who has the most to lose by not going responsive?

Those who will lose out the most will be SMEs, particularly those with physical store locations or whose customers are on the move.


  • You own a car garage and have a website which
    • has relevant, high quality content
    • but isn’t responsive
    • Your local, most fierce competitor also owns a garage and has a website which
      • has relevant, high quality content
      • and is responsive

A point to note: Google prioritise mobile-friendly websites to those searching from mobile devices.

Now consider this scenario:

  • Your potential customer is on the road when
    • they notice exterior damage to their car
    • the pull over and search for “auto repair near me”
    • search results prioritised your competitor’s “mobile-friendly” website
    • they search for directions
    • you miss out on a customer
    • You missed the opportunity, and probably didn’t even notice it

As if that’s not enough reason for responsive to be growing, take a look at these 14 brands which increased their conversion rates by utilising responsive design and how we’ve helped our clients see success through responsive design. Expect to see more brands implementing responsive in their redesigns – growth isn’t slowing any time soon.

2. Design: transitions and typefaces will get more attention


While last year we predicted the further demise of flash, this year we’re predicting the further rise of smooth CSS3/JS transitions. We’re seeing these more frequently as we peruse the web, and so are decision-makers. Web designers will be hearing “can the header fade into view when you scroll?” more frequently, and we’ll see this become more widely used.

As devices get more powerful, phones are stuttering less and less with animations and we’re going to see more of these in websites. From navigation areas smoothly sliding into view to elements slipping into view as you scroll, expect more here.


Screenshot of the free Prata web font

The web is getting more and more beautiful. While designers used to be limited to ~30 fonts which they knew would be installed on most computers and would therefore look similar, web fonts allow designers to choose from thousands of high quality fonts without the need for the font to be installed on the users’ computer.

Data available from HTTP Archive tells us that there has been an 11% growth year-on-year in web font usage on the web. The research looked at the top million sites as ranked by Alexa - 47% of them utilise custom fonts, a significant number. While the growth will eventually tail off, it’s likely that we’ll see these figures climb for the next few years.

HTTP Archive research showing overall growth in webfont usage on the web in the past year

Since Google began offering hosted fonts free-for-use in web design, Google’s web fonts have accumulated more than 3 trillion views. Check out this graph showing usage of one of the most popular web fonts, Open Sans, has grown in popularity more than 114% year-on-year.

Graph showing growth in viewership for the Open Sans webfont over the last year.

Typecast have recently opened up to free accounts, which is making it easier than ever to design beautiful typographic styles for the web, so ditch your Calibri and Arial and try something new and more beautiful to make your website a little more pleasing on the eye.

3. Data: The relevant web – more personalised experiences

We’re going to see more eCommerce sites tailoring their content depending on the user, much in the same way that a single advert can tailor its content for each user depending on their characteristics.

While the ability to have content that tailors itself for each user is nothing new (think Amazon’s recommendations), the ability to tailor content is fast becoming easier to implement through services such as Qubit and Maxymiser, which allow a website to be tailored based on available data such as the weather, time of day, device type and social information.

Screenshot from the Maxymiser site illustrating web personalisation in action


Charities could benefit by tailoring their site messaging with stats from the site visitors’ local area, making the message both relevant and close to home, giving greater impact to the donation appeal and increased donation propensity.

  • A charity site detects a user’s location and (in tandem with a database of charity statistics by region) displays the following headline:
    • “With donations from people like you, we were able to assist [213] abandoned animals in [Wiltshire] last year” (Where square brackets denote dynamic content)

What’s the benefit? If a website is more relevant, it’s more immediately useful. When it’s more immediately useful, sales are likely to increase; one executive touts some pretty impressive stats in this BBC article.

It’s likely that we’ll see the most innovative organisations synchronising their CRM data with their website to store up a unique pro/wp-content/uploads/file for each visitor to ensure that first time visitors receive introductory messaging and that return visitors receive messaging tailored around their previous experiences. Provided companies err on the side of caution between usefulness and creepiness, this is likely to be a growing trend in 2015.

The final word

Nobody has a crystal ball and the future can’t be totally predicted, but by keeping an ear to the ground and watching trends as they unfold, we’re in the fortunate position to be able to assist growing brands to address key web opportunities. If you’re interested in any elements of what you’ve read, do check out our services, or get in touch with a member of our new business team.