Tangled Web – Website Trends

website trends

In case you’ve been living under a rock, a lot changed this year in website trends. We’ve seen some interesting tactics and tendencies. What’s next? Who knows – but I think everyone should consider catching up with what is. Here are a few of my observations from 2015:

  • Web sites are getting simpler; this one seems obvious to our team, but nearly everyone I share this with seems surprised. Reality is that as mobile traffic increases, sites will need to be simpler to be impactful. Ever tried browsing a complex site on an iPhone 4? Yeah, you get it.
  • WordPress is here to stay; think of WordPress vs. Drupal as VHS versus BetaMax. WordPress won. Even hardcore Drupal developers seem to be making the shift. According to W3Techs, WordPress is used by over 58% of all web sites using a known CMS – or roughly 25% of all web sites. Read the survey highlights here.
  • WordPress is vulnerable; with its rise as a leading CMS, WordPress has attracted the attention of the hacker community. This year we saw our first attacks on two sites. Protect your site – fixing it after you’ve been hacked is a pain. We’re recommending a solution like SiteLock. Easy to deploy and configure, affordable, and seems pretty robust.
  • Analytics matter; although we’ve preached this for years, it’s been surprising to me how few web site owners understand how visitors use sites. But this year I’m starting to see a change; site owners are looking at traffic, learning, and adapting content to reflect what they’ve learned.
  • Responsive got real; you can thank Google on this one. With the announcement that sites that didn’t meet its standards for mobile responsiveness would be downgraded, Google kicked off a firestorm. Every site we’ve build since April 1, 2015 has had full responsiveness as a key performance requirement. If you don’t know where your site stands, Google offers a mobile-friendly test tool that you can use to check your URL.
  • Mobile arrived for real; most of the sites we work with seem to have an inflection point where mobile traffic suddenly goes from being relatively insignificant to playing a key role. We saw one client’s site do a complete flip-flop from predominantly desktop to overwhelmingly smartphones during a fairly brief period. These trends seem to vary by industry, but it’s definitely happening. Ignore mobile visitors at your own peril.
  • Google is a mystery; while the search side of Google has always been a challenge to keep up with, additional elements are coming into play as the algorithm accounts for other factors. Because of acquisitions and changes (for example the Google Places), many of our clients have found themselves with multiple legacy Google identities. Cleaning these up is a complex, and sometimes impossible challenge. The lesson? As you add new services, consolidate as many as possible to a single account. Merging them later is a giant headache.

2015 Predictions: Increated “Because we can!” Website Hacking

As promised in last week’s post, at PWB we have a couple of our own predictions. Keith Kopinski our  Senior Art Director, predicts that, “As we roll into 2015 we will see an increase in website hacks.  Hacking has always been in the mix, but I think the trend will continue to rise and we will see more and more sites compromised with the reason cited being ‘Because we can’.” To listen to news stories you begin to feel that way too. Here are just a few of the greatest hits from the last couple of years:

As Keith said, hacking attacks happen, and they are becoming ever more common. In Verizon’s most recent Data Breach Report, there were 63,000 confirmed security incidents in 2013. Sixty-three Thousand! That’s a lot of hacking. Certainly you can not stop what is going to happen but there are ways to help mitigate the problem.

So what can you do? Here are a few tips to slow hackers down and possibly stop them:

  1. If you have a blog, use a validation form for comments. This should help prevent someone from inserting HTML code that may cause issues. causes trouble.
  2. Don’t use generic Usernames suck as “admin” to log into your website.
  3. Update the security patches on your site. This may necessitate checking for the latest security patches and to make sure that they are installed properly.

Of course other top tips include using strong passwords and avoiding spam-like websites, but I would also add that it is necessary to be aware of what is happening with your website.

Recently one of our PWB clients experienced a distributed denial of service (DDOS) attack from overseas. These type of hacks typically flood a site with traffic until it falls offline, because PWB is helping to manage their paid advertising platform and runs constant analytic reports, the hackers were discovered before considerable damage had been done.

So will hacking “Because we can!” become more prevalent in 2015? Only time will tell. We’ll re-visit this next year to see.

 

Like Looking at Montana through a Keyhole

Do you browse web sites from your phone or a tablet? Do many sites feel like trying to look at Montana through a keyhole?

Last year mobile devices finally outsold more traditional computers. 2014 is predicted to be the year more people access the web via a mobile connection than do so from a fixed one.

So, in light of that, how’s your web site? Is it effective on everything from your desktop with a 24” monitor to an iPhone? Does everything work? Is it readable?

Responsive web design – that is sites that respond and adapt to the device you’re viewing them on – is here. Navigation that changes for each device. Elements that move and scale as-needed. And more.

We’re even seeing trends that will blow some users minds. One WordPress theme we’ve explored even builds an your entire site feeding from your social media streams.

We’re in the midst of working on some super-cool sites that pack a ton of great content into a responsive package. Stay tuned for more.

-Sean-