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Ecommerce Web Design Trends in 2016

When I first sat down to write a blog about eCommerce web design trends in 2016, I started to reminisce about trends of the past. There are so many that come to mind, but unfortunately they aren’t all good. So I started to look at the history of web design and everything that has led us to this place in the history of the interweb. I was amazed at all of the past trends that I had forgotten about.

If you are a computer geek like many of us, you will probably get nostalgic when you hear references to splash pages, page curl, and skeuomorphism. Then there are the trends-turned-fads that we were happy to see go, like gif animation, website counters, and overuse of gradients. But there are some trends that brought us to where we are today, such as responsive design and flat design. Mobile site usage will continue to drive demand for responsive design in 2016. And what we knew as “flat design” is evolving into some great concepts in website design.

That being said, as a business who provides affordable web design, we’re keen to share with you some of the 2016 eCommerce web design trends that we here at StudioCoast look forward to seeing.

1. Card Layout

Card layouts became very popular in 2015, and we think their popularity will continue to grow in 2016. The design, which originated from Pinterest, took off into the mainstream with its adoption by Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and Twitter, to name a few. The design has become popular not only because of how aesthetically pleasing it is, but also because of its compatibility with desktops, responsive design, mobile, and apps.

Card layout is not only popular with designers, it’s also a marketer’s dream. It complements marketing efforts to lure customers with content because it’s so easy to combine images, text, call to actions, and links into one card. One card equals one chunk of information or one thought. Marketers concentrate on getting the attention of the public, who already have a very limited attention span as it is. This makes it easier for the reader to digest information all at once.

On the average website, users take the time to read 28% of the words at most, with 20% being more likely. This fact makes card layout a popular choice for eCommerce businesses that want their customers to be able to scan their websites for products and get information as easily as possible. When using card layout, it’s good to remember the following:

  • Use lots of white space
  • Use rich content – less is more
  • Use one thought per card
  • Remember that image is everything
An example of card layout, in this instance pins from Pinterest.

Source: Pinterest

2. Custom-Drawn Illustrations

We predict that more eCommerce sites in 2016 will use custom-made/hand-drawn illustrations to sell products. Custom-drawn illustrations bring a personal, unique feel to your online store. They will also save you money on royalty fees and, more importantly, they will save you from having to use the cheesy stock photos that limit your originality due to their overuse, especially in the eCommerce world.

Some businesses even go so far as to use hand-drawn images for menu icons, logos, search bars – you name it. We believe more eCommerce sites will take advantage of custom-drawn illustrations in 2016 in order to stand out from the competition.

3. Interruption Marketing or Permission Marketing

As content marketing continues to grow, so does our desire to capture contact information. Yes, you guessed it, those annoying pop-ups are back – but maybe less intrusive and annoying this time around. According to Practical Ecommerce, eCommerce sites will use interruption marketing more in 2016, stating that one-third of the National Retail Federation’s top retailers in the United States will use them in the coming year.

Why would the big brands bring back something that annoyed so many people in the 90s? Because it works. Eighty-nine percent of companies using content marketing say so. Companies are choosing to use content marketing to increase their email subscriber base and, in turn, increase sales. Email marketing is the most powerful tool available to eCommerce sites. So, in order to get email addresses, eCommerce sites are providing discounts or valuable content in exchange for personal information.

An example of interruption marketing, from Unbounce.

Source: Unbounce

This time around interruption marketing is a bit less intrusive, as some sites require you to take action — for example, scrolling down before the pop-up will appear. It would be interesting to know if people find interruption marketing any less intrusive than the pop-ups of the past and what prompts people to part with their personal information. We can’t wait to see how this eCommerce web design trend of 2016 will play out.

4. Semi-Flat Design/Almost Flat/ Flat 2.0

Flat design has become increasingly popular in the past few years. In 2015 we started to see it everywhere. Due to the minimalistic style and modern look, this trend has become the design of choice for many people. Flat design is simply an interface design style without the bells and whistles – i.e., gradients and textures – utilizing instead the simple elements, typography, and flat colours that Microsoft made popular. Flat design looks great on a responsive device and is easy to navigate, but it does have disadvantages. Designers found that although simplistic, it is difficult to implement well and if it’s used incorrectly, flat design can come off as lacking rather than modern. Regardless, several companies jumped on the flat design bandwagon in 2015. As a result, sites started to lack individuality, possibly due to the sheer number of templates available with the flat-design elements.

Flat design has now evolved into three categories, each of which we expect to see more of in 2016: semi-flat, almost flat, or flat 2.0. Designers worked out the user ability issues that came with flat design, which sacrificed usability for trendy aesthetics. Now, semi-flat encompasses subtle shadows, highlights, and layers to create some depth in the UI. We look forward to seeing what is in store for flat design in 2016.

An example of flat design, from Google.

Source: Google

5. The Omni-Channel Experience

Although not a web design per se, the omni-channel experience will likely be embraced by more companies in 2016. This trend allows businesses to expand their eCommerce efforts beyond their websites, providing a seamless experience and consistent messaging across all channels of their business. We believe that in 2016 we’ll see more companies integrating their websites with their brick-and-mortar stores, Facebook, Twitter, apps, etc., bringing a seamless omni-channel experience to their customers.

By aligning the company’s messaging, vision, and design across each channel and device, eCommerce sites will provide their customers with a better personalized experience in 2016. Not only will omni-channel be a significant eCommerce web design trend for 2016, but for the next couple of years to come as well.

Oasis does a good job of providing its customers with an omni-channel experience. Not only is the shopping process seamless regardless of whether you visit their brick-and-mortar stores, eCommerce site, or mobile app, but you can also find out the stock levels at local stores via their app. Pretty cool!

The Omni-Channel experience, from Oasis.

Source: Oasis

Whether you are looking to spruce up your website with the latest design or doing a complete web overall, it’s always important to pick a design that best suits your business. Don’t select one simply because it’s trendy and everyone else is doing it. Choosing a design that doesn’t match your business value proposition can ultimately hurt your eCommerce business, so it’s important to pick something that fits your brand and the vision of your company.

If you would like more information on how we can help you with your next web design project, contact us today. StudioCoast’s Studio Media has been helping Australians with their web design needs since 2002. Contact StudioCoast today.

ASP.NET 4.6 Features for Your Windows VPS

In July, Microsoft launched Visual Studio 2015 and ASP.NET 4.6, six months after the soft, preview launch in November, 2014. After months of updates and improvements leading up to the launch, we were finally able to download it and use it this past winter.

As an Australian ASP.NET hosting provider, I can admit we were pretty excited about this launch and waited in anticipation to find out what the new version of Visual Studio would have to offer, and what the new ASP.NET 4.6 features would be. As Microsoft Corporate Vice President of the Developer Division, S. Somasegar, stated in his launch speech, they “developed a toolset for any developer to work on any application” – and they didn’t disappoint.

Top 5 Visual Studio 2015 and ASP.NET 4.6 Features

Our developers have had the pleasure of working with Visual Studio 2015 and the updated ASP.NET 4.6 features over the past five months and have compiled a list of our favourites. So, for your viewing pleasure, here are a list of our favourite Visual Studio 2015 and ASP.NET 4.6 updated features.

1. Cross-Platform Mobile Development

Visual Studio 2015 allows you to build quality mobile apps for iOS, Android and Windows, right out of the box, using Apache Cordova, C++ or Xamarin. You can install and manage software easily for cross-platform mobile development, making it possible to build, deploy and debug across multiple app platforms within a single solution.

The update also includes new code templates and samples with common app features that you can use for building and testing cross-platform mobile apps. You can share code and reuse existing C++ libraries, eliminating the need to build all code from scratch. The best feature is that developers have the ability to use their preferred code, so you can create mobile applications for iOS, Android and Windows from a single code base and share code across device platforms with shared projects or portable class libraries.

The cross-platform mobile development features in Visual Studio 2015 offer developers flexibility.

2. Android Emulator

Now the emulator for Android is available when you install any cross-platform mobile development project types in Visual Studio 2015. It’s now available independent of Visual Studio, so it’s open for developers doing Android development on a variety of tools.

The emulator supports a variety of Android screen sizes, properties and versions including Jellybean 4.2 (API 17) and Lollipop 5.1 (API 22). It’s also Hyper-V compatible, allowing you to switch between different platform emulators without Hyper-V conflicts. It has easy-to-use sensor simulations, supports both Wi-Fi simulations, and the user can choose from several different device hardware configurations. An additional ASP.NET 4.6 feature is that you can drag and drop flashable zip files onto the emulator, and it will unzip the archive and install the files in that directory structure, making restoring from a backup much easier than manually installing each file.

3. C++ Enhancements

There are more C++11, C++14 and C++17 features to make it easier for developers to write cleaner code. Cross-platform mobile developers can use the open source framework and tools to move between languages and project-types and you can write the web applications in C++ and deploy to any web server or Cloud in Microsoft Azure; making it possible to choose the editor and OS of choice to code. There are also updates to the C++ compiler and standard library, as well as additional support for writing C++ code for the iOS platform. The Visual Studio website also states that 500 compiler bugs have been fixed!

With the new C++ enhancements to Visual Studio 2015, it is easier for developers to write cleaner code.

4. Diagnostics and Debugging Tools

Visual Studio and ASP.NET 4.6 features enhancements to the diagnostic and debugging tools. There is now a new single IntelliTrace Events window, rather than having it split between two windows. There is improved start up performance when launching applications and you have the ability to see the entire application during the debugging; helping you to sort memory usage and CPU usage by duration filter, to dig into what is causing issues with your application. You can view the full visual tree of a running application during the debugging session, inspect the properties, modify them and see the changes immediately. The debugging experience is quicker and easier to resolve.

5. Account Management Enhancements

As a Windows web hosting company, we use a variety of Microsoft products, so we find the simple enhancement of centralized user accounts a huge bonus. They have centralized the user accounts to reduce the number of prompts for login. So whether you are trying to access your Cloud backend, connect to Azure, or integrate your app with Office 365, there isn’t a separate sign in for each process. But you will be automatically signed in, reducing the number of authentication prompts – because who needs the added hassle?

There are so many enhancements that we can go on and on, but in a nutshell, our developers love Visual Studio 2015 and the new ASP.NET 4.6 features. We find it easier to monitor our apps in real-time, track the application’s progress, create workflows to monitor code quality and audit the app during each stage, as well as conduct automated load tests. All of these improvements make it easier for us to build a quality product for our customers; and in turn, pass along these benefits to our customers. The enhanced ASP.NET 4.6 features enables us to deliver apps faster, regardless of whether they are in the Cloud, on premise, or iOS, Android, Java, Linux or Windows.

StudioCoast has been helping Australians with their Windows web hosting needs since 2002. If you would like more information on how we can use Visual Studio 2015 and ASP.NET 4.6 for your Windows VPS solution, contact us today.

Why IPv6 DNS Hosting is Better

If you have heard the term IPv6 and have wondered what it is and what it means to your website, keep reading and we’ll explain it for you. If you are in the market for a new web hosting provider and have wondered what IPv6 DNS hosting is, how it differs to that of IPv4 and how it will impact the performance of your website, we’ll cover that as well. We’ve compiled the IPv6 basics and what you’ll need to know about switching to the latest Internet Protocol.

First, let’s start with the basics…

What Is IPv6?

Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) is the most recent version of the Internet Protocol (IP), the communications protocol that provides an identification and location system for computers on networks and routes traffic across the internet. An Internet Protocol is binary numbers that can be stored as text for humans to read. Essentially, an IP specifies the technical format of packets and how computers will communicate over the network.

What Is the Difference between IPv4 and IPv6?

IPv4 is the fourth revision of the Internet Protocol used to identify devices on a network through an addressing system. Each device on the internet – whether computer, laptop, mobile device, or tablet – is assigned an IP address for identification and location definition. IPv6 is the successor to IPv4, and the protocol which will eventually replace IPv4. IPv6 has been in development for over twenty years after it was determined that the supply of IPv4 would eventually run out, due to the growth of the internet and the increasing number of devices that people own.

The Numbers

  • IPv4 addresses have a 32-bit numeric address which is written in decimal as four numbers separated by periods. Each number can be zero to 255.
    For example, 1.160.10.240
  • IPv6 addresses are 128-bit IP addresses written in hexadecimal, and separated by colons.
    For example: 3ffe:1900:4545:3:200:f8ff:fe21:67cf

Given the nature of which the internet is rapidly growing, the 4.3 billion IPv4 addresses are simply not enough to keep up with the addition of smartphones, tablets and devices, and we are running out of IP addresses – hence the need to replace IPv4 with IPv6 and its potential 340 undecillion addresses.

The evolution of addresses from IPv4 to IPv6.

The evolution of addresses from IPv4 to IPv6. Image Source: thetelecomblog.com

Is It Urgent to Switch to IPv6?

IPv4 and IPv6 are not interoperable and this is why you hear so much talk regarding switching over to IPv6. IPv6 provides each and every device with its own public IP address, replacing the need for a Network Address Translation (NAT) to translate between IPv4 to IPv6. The majority of the devices connected to the internet today are not compatible with IPv6, and NAT makes it possible for the two to communicate. Although it isn’t urgent, it’s important to build a migration strategy into your future plans, especially for areas where IPv4 addresses have run out completely and we are forced to use the next generation protocol.

When Is the Right Time to Transition?

IPv4 addresses have been fully deployed globally and will be exhausted in the future; therefore, at some point, we will all need to migrate to IPv6 DNS hosting. Soon IPv6 will be the only option for adding new devices, so it’s important to be prepared for when IPv4 is no longer supported. When will that be? It’s hard to tell, but it’s good to be prepared.

Why Is IPv6 DNS Hosting Better?

It’s inevitable that we will one day have to embrace IPv6, but the good news is that there are also so many benefits that come as a result of this next generation protocol.

1. More Numerical Addresses

As mentioned, the 4.3 billion IPv4 addresses will soon be exhausted. The successor, IPv6 will provide a potential 340 undecillion addresses or 340 times 10 to the 36th power. I think we can agree that it’s highly unlikely that we are going to run out of numerical addresses in the foreseeable future.

2. Elimination of Network Address Translation

Given the number of unique IP addresses of IPv6, each device will have its own unique IPv6 address, and organizations won’t have to rely on NAT to connect to the internet. IPv6 eliminates most of the address conflict issues common under IPv4, and enables more efficient connections and communication for devices. There will be less complexity in the network, making the network easier to configure.

IPv6 will eliminate the need for NAT, meaning netowrks are less complex and therefore easier to configure.

3. Efficiency

IPv6 has a much simpler packet header structure, meaning that the headers are processed more efficiently, minimizing the time and effort of header processing. This efficiency allows for reduced processing time for routers, making hardware less complex and packets that can be processed more quickly. IPv6 supports multicast rather than broadcast, allowing bandwidth-intensive packet flows (multimedia) to be sent to multiple destinations simultaneously, saving network bandwidth and increasing performance.

4. Security

Authentication and encryption is a mandatory component of the IPv6 protocol, unlike IPv4, where it is optional. IPv6 encrypts traffic and checks packet integrity to provide VPN-like protection for standard internet traffic. The integrity and authenticity of each IPv6 packet is ensured through encryption, and packet-spoofing protection measures. IPv6 has built-in authentication and privacy support, ensuring that internet traffic gets to the correct destination without being intercepted.

5. Auto-Configuration and Support for New Services

Auto-configuration allows each device to generate an IPv6 address as soon as it is given power. Using a link local address and an IPv6 router, any IPv6 compatible device can generate a local address and a globally routable address, providing access to the internet. For mobile devices, Mobile IPv6 (MIPv6) makes it possible for mobile (Wi-Fi) clients to select a new router without renumbering, which results in a more reliable and faster connection with less network interruption.

Deciding on an IPv6 DNS Hosting Provider

Want to migrate from your current protocol to IPv6 DNS hosting? It’s inevitable that all websites will need to move to the new generation protocol, so it’s important to be prepared. StudioCoast now offers IPv6 support on all web hosting plans. If you would like more information on how StudioCoast can help your business enable an IPv6 address on your domain name, contact us today.

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