Ten Things that We Loved about Websites in 2015

With 2015 coming to an end, we wanted to take a minute to recognize our 10 favorite things that we loved in the last year.

  1. Sign me up: Websites across the board did a much better job of streamlining the online registration process. Through one click, users could join a platform using a social account to sign up. Multi-step form wizards “chunk out” the required fields, and streaming app. Periscope allowed users to sign up by simply adding their phone number. Love it.
  2. PDF Intervention: Prior to May of 2015, the bulk of urban.org’s strong web content was in the form of PDFS. However, their analytics showed that these PDFs were only attributing to less than four percent of their site’s total pageviews. Not good. They decided that it was time to seek some content rehab and get some eyes on their best content.   Instead, they implemented single-column reports, developed HTML-first briefs and reports, and allowed people to get a sneak peek of their content before sending them into a PDF.   We hope to see this great trend continue in other content-heavy sites in 2016.
    kill-the-pdf-uw
  3. Aw Snap!: Snapfish’s new website is a big wow in our book. Their site gets the fact that today’s web users are on the move, and that people save pictures in random places. Some times on our phone, our laptop, social media channels–they’re everywhere. With the launch of their new site, Snapfish allows their audience to Import photos from Instagram, enhanced their photo editing tools, and my favorite–you can seamlessly start or finish a product on any device. As a self-professed offline oversharer who orders tons of photos, I love this feature!FireShot Screen Capture #117 - ' Online Photo Printing I Photo Christmas Cards I Photo Books I Photo_' - www_snapfi
  4. Welcome, All: “The good news is that accessibility is usability under a magnifying glass. If you’re thinking about great usability, the chances are that you’re already thinking about great accessibility too” (From the Nomensa Blog November 13, 2012). As the web becomes more mobile-first, it has also inadvertently become more accessible to those with disabilities. More consideration to reading order, navigational and layout consistency, as well as stronger labeling not only improve usability from all device types, but they make it easier for those with disabilities to enjoy your site too.   To see more about how individuals with disabilities navigate the web, please watch this great video.
  5. It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye. Well, Not That Hard… We thought about writing a blog post devoted to the year of great unsubscribe pages, but Contently (who we love) beat us to it! The best Unsubscribe pages of 2015 allowed people to get fewer communications, watch videos about the benefits of staying subscribe, and some provided downright hilarious comedy!
  6. Mobilegeddon: We haven’t let go of that catchphrase just yet. I received probably a million emails from my clients on this one in 2015. What do we need to do? When do we need to do it? Mobilegeddon wasn’t something to be scared of–it only made content and search–better.
  7. House of Cards: It’s a darn good TV show, but it also makes for great website design: Card design. Card design sites (also known as grid sites) are great for mobile and responsive design. Pinterest set the standard.House of Cards
    House of Cards 2
  8. Know When to Fold Them: With the emergence of responsive design, a lot of web wonks began to say something that we totally disagree with: That below the fold no longer matters. We could not disagree more. It does matter. What appears at the top of the page vs. what’s hidden will ALWAYS influence the user experience—regardless of screen size.   If you don’t have a good story to tell, engaging information or resources to present; there is no reason to scroll. People don’t scroll passages of content for fun. They do it for a reason.
  9. I Ain’t Scared of No Ghost: OK–so we’re showing our ages a bit with a reference from the Ghostbusters theme song. Ghost Buttons started in 2014, but became better and more prominent in 2015. Ghost buttons enable functionality without distracting from the user experience. They are called ‘ghost buttons’ as they are typically represented as outlined, clickable links that change when the user hovers over them. However, use them with caution as they can be a bit difficult to implement, aesthetically–and this is one area where you can lose 508 compliance without strong tagging of the outlined link.
  10. Menu du Jour: Amped up website navigation was one of our favorite highlights of 2015. Some navigation menus became sticky, some were slideouts, and some even flew. Others were hidden until you were ready to see them and only became visible when the visitor was ready to move on and clicked the appropriate icon. We love it for desktop, we love it for accessibility, and we love it for a strong user experience.

What was your favorite thing on the web in 2015? Or, do you need help achieving one or some of these tactics? We’d love to hear from you!