A new year has begun. With more people than ever using the Internet, 2007 promises to be a year that will pave the way for some of the most important trends on the Web. New developments in technology and emerging standards will influence the way companies of every industry manage their business online. In order to maintain a competitive edge, 2007 will call for these companies to move forward in an attempt to keep up with evolving technology.
Take a look at some of the Web Trends that we, at Americaneagle.com, predict will be most explosive and in-demand for 2007:
1. Flash Video - One of the most innovative and exciting features that will be increasingly used within Websites this year is Flash Video. For many companies, Flash video can be an interactive component that allows you to share videos with online visitors without forcing long wait periods for video download. This can be done to boost marketing efforts, show product demonstrations, enhance online communities, and more. With high quality picture and easy streaming technology, Flash video will be steadily growing in demand on the Web.
In use: NASCAR currently uses Flash video on one of their sites,NASCARPartners.com, as an interactive component.
2. AJAX — AJAX is an interactive Web application that uses XML feeds to quickly deliver information to users. Web users benefit from this technology because it allows them to request information on a Web page without having to wait for the entire page to reload. Given the growing impatience and high demands of these users, sites will need to pull up information more quickly when called for by the user. Therefore, AJAX will be one of the foremost technologies used on the Web in 2007 because of its ability to increase a site's overall interactivity, speed, and usability.
In use: DonaldJPliner.com utilizes AJAX within its product pages. AJAX allows shoppers to switch shoe images based on color selection without having to wait for the entire page to reload.
3. 1024 Design — Today, about 80% of all computer monitors are set at 1024x768 resolution setting or higher. In order to create the best user experience for people operating on these high resolutions, a Website should be designed at an equally high resolution. Indeed, a 1024 design allows the Website to take full advantage of the canvas size of the screen, minimizing negative space. In 2007, more organizations will optimize their designs to fit the 1024x768 or higher resolution. This maximizes the site's potential by opening up more real estate on a page for marketing opportunities, multimedia, and other advanced technologies.
In use: The older design of Americaneagle.com was built using an 800x600 design. When viewed on a higher resolution, the page had an excess of negative space on the right side. With the new design, Americaneagle.com is fully optimized to take advantage of screen space.
4. Breadcrumbs — Breadcrumbs are used as a navigation technique to keep users aware of their location within Websites. Essentially, breadcrumbs provide a trail for the user to follow back to the starting/entry point of a site. An example would be: Homepage > Section page > Sub Section Page. While breadcrumbs have been utilized within the Internet and computer programs for some time, the new Windows Vista Operating System recently released by Microsoft makes use of breadcrumbs within its platform. As such, as we move forward in the new year, computer users will become accustomed to using breadcrumbs to navigate their own files and will therefore be inclined to use them within Websites.
In use: FannieMay.com uses breadcrumbs in order to keep customers aware of where they are within the site.
5. Mouse-over Technology — Mouse-over technology has been "popping up" all over the Internet recently. This technology works when a user hovers his/her mouse pointer over an icon, hyperlink, image, or word. This hovering then brings up a pop-up window. The pop up window serves as a quick reference that allows users to view more information, an enlarged image, or anything else that would be relevant, both quickly and easily. Indeed, the pop-up windows streamline a site's usability by reducing the number of clicks needed to view information or images. Recognizing the benefits of this technology, Microsoft includes it within their newest operating system, Windows Vista. Thus, mouse-over technology will redefine users' expectations for how information is presented on the Web, making them increasingly impatient of old methodologies.
In use: The Cincinnati Bengals Website (www.bengals.com) utilizes mouse-over technology within news stories. Site visitors can simply hover over highlighted text to view more information on the referenced team players.
6. Tabs — Tabs are used on Websites to easily switch from one area to another. They are most beneficial in saving space and streamlining the navigation process on content-rich Websites. This year, the use of tabs on Websites will grow significantly. In fact, Internet Explorer 7 uses tabs to allow Web users to quickly tab through multiple windows within one browser.
In use: The new Weathertech.com uses tabs within its product pages to allow users to quickly shift through product videos, instructions, details, and testimonials. The site saves space by using these tabs and eliminates the need to dig through text or scroll down the page.
7. Compatibility with Mobile Devices — The time has come when having a wireless version of a Website is crucial. More than ever before, people are accessing the Internet through their mobile devices. Making a Website "mobile-friendly" will allow visitors to quickly access the most important information about an organization, directly from their Web-enabled PDA, Blackberry, or cell phone.
In use: Classic Cinemas worked with Americaneagle.com to create a site that would be compatible with mobile devices. By visiting, www.classiccinemas.com from their mobile devices, movie goers can now access important information such as theatre locations, showtimes, and upcoming movies.