2012 Trends to Watch

Content Management Systems will socialize. - Up until now, most companies had their social media (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc.) segregated from their corporate website. Mostly this was because the tools were separate. For content management systems, like Drupal, this year will focus a great deal more on social content integrated with their normal web content. Specifically, look to integrate streams of content from Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn or other social media channels that matter to your industry. 

For business, Social Media stops being another marketing channel and starts becoming a conversation. For many businesses, social media has  been a means to shout their message louder and farther. Truth is, there's a reason it's social. It's a multi-point conversation. At its best, leveraging social media means including your communities (customers, vendors, etc) in the conversation and having them share with their own communities. Much like any conversation, the important question is are you listening or just looking for another opportunity to speak? New, inexpensive online tools, like assistly.com, are available that not only helps you manage incoming email and phone conversations; it will track mentions of your company on Facebook and Twitter, then help you respond and keep the conversation going. 

Design for the web will center on simple, comfortable User Experiences. This will be the year that UserExperience  (UX) wins out over Usability. What's the difference? UX is about more than just how intuitive a particular site (or function) is to use; it's about how a user feels about the interaction. You'll hear the word "delight" a lot when referencing how you want your visitors to experience your online presence(s).

Get the fonts out. Finally, the web world is catching on to the fact that typography matters and has provided the technology to support it...simply. Since the beginning of sites, developers have been forced to choose between a handful of built-in (search engine friendly) fonts and graphically compelling, slow-loading images. Leveraging Google Fonts or the @font-face capabilities built into most modern browsers, we can now choose  from hundreds of fonts to get just the right feel for our brand.

Mobile (web) apps for the ordinary business. This year you'll see the rise of mobile "doing" through websites. Instead of just showing your content on the site, your visitors will be doing things and reading new or changing content using their mobile devices. Using jquery mobile and other libraries that have gained maturity, you can affordably offer a mobile "app" that renders using standard web technology on all of your mobile devices, including iPhone, Blackberry and Droid phones. All of this without having to navigate multiple native device languages.

2012 is the year of "Local." Did you know that the iPad had the fastest adoption rate of any product in consumer electronics history? Faster than the iPhone. Faster than the DVD player. They are carried everywhere and they are aware of their location at all times. Combine a QR code leading to a web-based app and you have unlimited possibilities for local e-commerce, ratings, suggestions, etc. 

You've streamed video but have you streamed video live? With the rise of services like UStream.com, you can now offer live broadcasts of events without expensive streaming hardware or services. It's bringing live streaming to the masses.

Death to the (Corporate) Blog, Long Live the Microblog - So, for years now we've talked about the value of a blog for organizations. Fresh, rich content is king for search engine optimization and  having a continual journal that prompts you to keep writing is a good vehicle to generate it. However, we've also seen the glazed look in your eyes when we talk about writing a full-length blog "article" 2-3 times pre week. We have good news. 

This year, you will see the demise of the full-length blog articles for businesses and the rise of microblogging. It's like blogging, but smaller (and more shareable). Services like Tumblr.com empower users to write short (think paragraph long) posts, upload photos, easily post quotes from others or embed a video. By shortening the amount of written content and expanding the media selections that may be used to produce content, it just gets easier to stay current (and start the social conversations mentioned earlier).

Flash will die this year - HTML 5 interfaces will rise - Now, the semi-savvy folks will say that Flash truly brought video to the web (and it did). It made it so you didn't have to install Windows Media Player or Quicktime. You could see the video right in your browser seamlessly. The reason Flash will die a quiet death is two-fold: 1) there is a web-standard for video built into HTML5 (as opposed to a proprietary library owned by Adobe) and 2) the reason everyone will use that standard instead of Flash is because iPhones and iPads don't support Flash but they DO support HTML5. YouTube already offers the videos in both Flash and HTML5 and Adobe has announced it will no longer be building a mobile Flash player.

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