Now that we’re more than halfway through the year, let’s take a look at what’s new in the digital marketing and web design/development world. Back in January, we outlined the trends that we expected to see have a major impact on the digital world in 2017. Let’s take a look at how things are shaping up and what’s shaping up to be important in the second half of 2017.
The non-developers in our audience may be wondering, “What the heck is CSS grid?”. In short, CSS grid is a new(ish) layout system to help web developers create responsive websites. Sure, there have been other third-party grid systems used in development for many many years, but this is the official CSS grid spec that will (hopefully) unify the way that front-end developers build responsive websites. Or, at least, give them a standard that will work on all browsers. The trick with CSS grid is that it has been a little slow to get proper browser support. However, Chrome, Firefox, and Safari all fully support CSS grid. Other browsers like IE and Edge are still lagging behind a bit on offering full support. CSS grid represents a tremendous step forward for web developers and will make building sites more efficient. We’re excited about it, to say the least.
As we predicted, 2017 is indeed turning out to the the year of many sites switching over to HTTPS. We have switched many of our clients’ sites over to use HTTPS. And as browsers continue to ramp up the warnings about insecure sites, we’ll continue to push our clients to switch their sites to HTTPS. As many other industry experts have suggested, I forsee a future where HTTPS will be the norm and non-secure sites will be in the minority.
And so now that many sites are running on HTTPS, the next logical step is for HTTP/2 to begin gaining in popularity. HTTP/2 is a major change to how browsers communicate with web servers and will lead to a much faster Internet. A recent statistic has shown that HTTP/2 is in use by about 13% of the top 10 million sites. We believe that once HTTPS becomes ubiquitous, HTTP/2 use won’t be too far behind. If you’re curious to read about all of the dorky details about HTTP/2, here’s a great article.
Google Analytics and AdWords
Another great thing that has happened so far this year is that Google has been slowly rolling out some pretty major changes to their Analytics and AdWords platforms.
Google Analytics has a really useful new dashboard that you’ll be introduced to when you log in to your account. The new dashboard contains a nice mix of real-time data (users on your site currently) and an overview of the past 7 days of traffic. One of the great things about the new Analytics dashboard is that it displays data in a way that that helps answer questions in a conversational way. For example, one chart has the headline, “What pages do your users visit?” above it and then displays the top pages visited. Or, “When do your users visit?” and displays a chart showing what time of day are most popular with your audience.
Meanwhile, the AdWords team has been rolling out their own major changes. Besides a really nice visual overhaul AdWords now receives some new features like:
- Life events targeting (such as weddings, new-born baby, etc.) – This could be great for realtors, financial planners, etc.
- Google Surveys 360 – This allows you to create a survey and solicit feedback from customers
- Google Optimize – This promises to make landing page testing and optimization more efficient with multiple landing page versions and audience targeting.
- A new landing page report – This is essentially an upgraded Google PageSpeed tool that you run right in AdWords to test your landing pages.
Lastly, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the rising phenomenon of voice search this year. With devices like Google Home, Amazon Echo, and the forthcoming Apple Home, it is clear that voice search is on the rise. This means that it is more important than ever to make sure that your site’s content is easily crawlable, that you continue to avoid Flash, and that you think about the conversational phrases that users will likely be using to search for things. For example, with voice search, someone might ask, “Where can I find someone to help me landscape my backyard?”. I think there’s a whole lot of change that will be happening in the voice search space, and we’re excited to see where it goes.
That wraps up all of the changes that we’re currently excited about in the ever-changing world of digital marketing and web design/development for the past few months. Stay tuned as we’ll be bringing more of these kind of updates in future blog entries.