Nothing ever stays still in a digital world
Nucleus formed its digital perspective early. In the late 1980s we used Apple Macs to automate our design process, by the early 1990s we designed kiosks and digital applications, and by 1995 we were designing websites. We designed our first ecommerce store - for Sainsburys - in 1996 and an online bank, for firstdirect, the following year. Today, we use responsive design to create immersive websites that engage users and convert consumer interest into commerce across desktops, tablets, smartphones and, soon, connected tvs.
While our early experiences gave us a headstart, our background as brand designers ensured our digital work always retained a brand perspective, with an unrelenting focus on brand experience.
Digital design for the Mobile era
We have observed the growth of mobile web browsing with interest, with our own surveys documenting its dramatic growth. Digital design has to adapt, with new approaches to user interface design, navigation, coding and content required.
In a mobile world, now moving to 4G and superfast networks, accessing websites from a smartphone we become second nature. Because websites provide instant content, we believe they will remain the best digital medium for consumers to browse and the best opportunity for businesses to acquire new customers. Brands that have not designed or optimised their websites for mobile may already be wasting approaching 40% of their traffic and - at some times of day, when mobile already surpasses desktop - perhaps the majority. If Google is paid for those clicks, these brands are paying their visitors to divert to a more mobile-friendly competitor.
With approaching half the UK and US population already owning a smartphone, we see the Mobile era being the single biggest influence on design, aesthetics and usability for the next few years. We wanted to keep abreast of these developments, so we have monitored mobile web browsing's inexorable growth in our own Mobile Web Browsing surveys, since 2011, which can be downloaded in our research section mobile web browsing.
However, we think it is important to distinguish between the role of a mobile-friendly website and a mobile app. While apps have attracted much attention in the early stages of the mobile web, they are not necessarily the best customer acquisition tools and will not replace a website for spontaneous searches and research browsing. However, once a consumer is won over to a brand, apps can deliver superior customer engagement performance and security, so there is a place for both in every digital strategy.
All websites designed for Web 2.0 now need to adapt to the Mobile era. While some brands will opt for separate mobile websites, we believe that managing two sites and publishing to multiple operating systems (OS) creates significant additional overhead which can be avoided by using responsive or adaptive design techniques.
The huge range of screen resolutions, pixel density and browser combinations means there are significant benefits managing one website design which caters for all users. Responsive design techniques 'sniff out' the device and resolution and serve up pre-formated screen variations based on screen size break points. At each break point, the page elements are re-arranged, or replaced by device specific elements, such as navigation being replaced by a mobile menu for smartphone screens.
This latest shift represents another new challenge for our clients, but we already have deep experience - see our digital case histories - developing a new techniques and a new design aesthetic that is suited to this new generation of smart connected devices.
Digital is an area of our work where nothing ever stays still. For even a minute.