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I just got back from a meeting in New Jersey with one of our long-term client (going on 11 years).Â We launched their site in 2000, and did a full redesign and Cascade Server implementation for them in 2006. Now, in addition to online billing and account management enhancements, they want to do a redesign of their five Web sites.
One of my tasks was to present ideas for improvements to their sites in order to bring them into this decade. Admittedly, I had a hard time finding things that needed fixing since in 2006, Beacon did really great job on the redesign, and this client has done a fantastic job of keeping the site looking very professional and modern. While theyâ€™re not looking for a start-from-scratch redesign (just a â€śface liftâ€ť), it got me thinking about ways that the Web has evolved in the last five years. Below is a comparison chart that, in my opinion, is what Web development was like â€śback thenâ€ť, and the way it is now.
|Circa 2006||How it is Today|
|Most popular browsers: Internet Explorer 6/7. Netscape is still around, but losing market share. Firefox and Safari are on the rise. Google Chrome is just a fleeting thought in the minds of billionaires.||Internet Explorer 6 is virtually dead (thank goodness), and Internet Explorer 7 is walking towards the light. Firefox is now the most popular browser, and Google Chrome didnâ€™t exist in 2006. Also, Internet Explorer 8 is all the rage (for those who accept what comes with their computers), and Internet Explorer 9 is in beta. Safari (and Firefox) rule the Mac world.|
|Everything must be â€śabove the foldâ€ť (in the visible region without scrolling). If users couldnâ€™t see it, they didnâ€™t know it was down there.||Users are much more Web savvy, and know that thereâ€™s more good stuff if you scroll down.|
|The smaller the font size, the more text you could fit â€śabove the foldâ€ť, even though it was sometimes hard to read.||Font sizes are getting much larger, thus allowing more users with sight issues to use the Web effectively.|
|Web site visitors are willing to read the information you provide, and click several times to get where theyâ€™re going. The sheer fact that what theyâ€™re looking for exists on your site is perfect.||On a functional Web site, if a user canâ€™t quickly do what they came to do, theyâ€™re frustrated, or gone. Today, itâ€™s imperative to get a user to where theyâ€™re going in 1-2 clicks.|
|Homepages are for showing off your companyâ€™s news, photos, and advertisements. The more stuff, the better (as long as it remains â€śabove the foldâ€ť).||Your homepage must grab a userâ€™s attention and quickly provide them with access to what they came for (such as a login to manage their account). Only a few news stories are necessary, and a clean, uncluttered look is king.|
|Users are more willing to figure out how to do something on your site, like â€śRegister for an Accountâ€ť. This function could be buried on a Tier 2 page.||Users are looking for those very simple, catchy phrases to guide them, such as â€śI want toâ€¦â€ť, â€śI need helpâ€ť, â€śGet Startedâ€ť, â€śI am aâ€¦ (consumer, business, etc.)â€ť. Simplicity and fewer words are what attract users, who demand information and functionality quickly.|
|Your mobile phone is just thatâ€¦a â€śphoneâ€ť (though it may have a camera). It probably flips open and shut. If it has a Web browser, the sites it can bring up are few and far between. But who can even see a Web site on that tiny screen?||I donâ€™t know about you, but Iâ€™m addicted to my smartphone. Iâ€™m pretty sure Iâ€™m not the only one (given the amount of people who were up at 3am a few nights ago to pre-order Verizonâ€™s iPhone). There is extremely high demand for your Web site to show properly on a mobile device, including smartphones and tablets. Does your site have a mobile version?|
Again, this is my perception of how it was, and how it is. Your opinion may differ. But the one thing Iâ€™m certain of is that Web sites need a refresh every so often to keep up with rapidly-changing browsers and standards, user demands, and the ever-evolving mobile world. And if you have a beautiful site now, it doesnâ€™t have to take a complete re-doâ€¦just a face lift can fast forward your site to today.