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January 10, 2011 / davebirss

Digital Opportunities in 2011

I’ve been trying to find the time to write this since before the new year. But busyness and business have both conspired against me. So I’m forcing this one out before it becomes too late to bother.

Here are five opportunities I see in digital in 2011. I’d be interested in finding out if you agree.

Make websites more like apps

Web functionality is developing at an amazing rate. HTML5 and CSS3 offer a much slicker web experience with far more functionality. At the same time, users have been getting used to the single-mindedness, relevance and usefulness of apps – along with their new visual language and slick interfaces. This appy approach will start to make itself felt in webpages – with location-relevant information, increased functionality and smooth transitions. Websites are so 2006. Now is the time for Appsites.

Think about cross-device experiences

Up until now, websites have been presented to clients as they would be seen in a desktop browser. It’s only further down the line that a mobile version might be thought about. If at all. But that approach doesn’t make sense any more. This year will see the mass adoption of smartphones in the west – and with it, their move to become the dominant way of accessing the web. The great news is that most mobile devices are ready for full HTML5 goodness. The businesses that create cross-device experiences that make the most of each platform will be the winners.

The best app may not be an app

Everyone’s jumped on the bandwagon now. The app marketplaces have become saturated and it’s so much harder to get noticed in such a crowded space. But there’s no reason why apps have to be standalone things that need to be approved by Apple – or functionality that just works on one device. Following on from the previous two points, it may be a better idea to create an app-like experience on your website – and make that available across devices. It all depends on what will be the easiest route to getting your audience. And a web link is far more shareable than an app.

Make your banners less bannery

I’ve never been a fan of banners. After a lot of pondering about why I dislike them so much I realised that what I hated was the way they are used. Most of the time they are simply press ads or TV ads crammed into a ridiculous shape. They are shouty, attention-seeking pieces of irrelevance that sit on the periphery of the content you actually went to that page to see. But they don’t need to be. A banner can be a piece of utility that adds to your experience of the page. Or it can be a shop. There’s no reason why you can’t buy directly from the banner. Forget about ‘clicking-through’ to a brand site. It’s easier to talk to a customer in their own space than it is to drag them off to a branded site.

Cater for the super-late adopters

As everyone’s saying, this is the year of the tablet. This year’s CES had over 100 of the blighters available. Whoever ends up with dominance (by my reckoning it will be Apple in the short-term, Android in the long-term) the devices all have one thing in common – there’s not much of an operating system to get to know. And that removes the big barrier that’s stopped the last of the technophobes from joining the digital world. You press a button and it’s on – without all that start-up nonsense. You tap an icon and you get email, news, weather, the Internet, video, music. You don’t need to save documents, they’re stored as you create them. There’s very little that can go wrong. Over the next year we’ll see these technophobes join the Internet. They’re older, they have money, they’re traditionally more brand-loyal and they could do with a bit of help. Show them some love and you could be on to a winner.

So there are my thoughts. As you may have noticed, I see a lot of potential in HTML5 and I see a pretty rapid move away from the desktop as the primary way of accessing the web. But most of all, I believe that being user-focused is absolutely vital to success.

What do you think? Do you agree? Do you think I’m spouting drivel? I guess we’ll only find out for sure in 2012.


Leave a Comment
  1. james / Jan 11 2011 4:27 pm

    just on the very last point about the desktop…you could read the whole mac appstore thing as an attempt to reverse engineer/refocus your old machine to be more in line with your mobile devices. (even if the ui isn’t great.)

    don’t have anything more to say about, but…interesting.

    • davebirss / Jan 12 2011 1:38 pm

      I absolutely agree. I’ve rather enjoyed the new Mac Appstore – but it doesn’t feel as relevant as the iPod and iPad ones. I feel that I’m selecting apps for different reasons. You may be right with Apple’s motivation being that they want to return some focus to their non-mobile devices.

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