Fabrizio Van Marciano is a professional blogger, creative junkie, web designer and developer at Magnet4Blogging. We recently checked in with him to learn more about what's new in web development today. Here's what he had to say:
What are the biggest trends you're observing in web development today?
There's quite a few that comes to mind. I think web design and development over the last five years or so has evolved, and mainly to align with behaviors of how people today browse and consume content on the internet.
Folks today are a lot more savvy, and people want more relevant content, answers, solutions to their problems and they want it quickly.
Websites today are a lot more interactive than they were just a few years ago even. We're still adapting to responsive design and at some stage the balance will tip where mobile browsing will outpace desktop browsing.
But we're also seeing a bigger trend developing in other areas of web development. The use of motion UI for instance. Animations and videos, etc. being used as backgrounds in content. I think a lot of those trends and changes are taking place because the importance of using content to captivate audiences, along with storytelling, is becoming more and more crucial.
We're also seeing more sites adopting smooth scrolling functions, where site visitors are able to control the speed of animations as they scroll down a page. We're seeing things like infinite scrolling, card layout navigation and much more.
It's all about how we interact with content on the web, so these trends are developing because of how we're doing just that.
What types of practices or designs are going out of favor for web developers?
Good question. Well when it comes to practices, I think one change that is really noticeable is how the gap between front-end visual designing and programming or coding if you like, is closing at quite a fast pace.
Advances in both technology and software development has opened many doors to web developers and designers alike, and we've now got access to so many different kinds of tools, apps, services and various technologies.
As for what's going out of favor? Well there's quite a few things I can think of from the design aspect.
For instance, the use of bevel and emboss or gloss effect if you like, drop shadows etc are all being replaced by nice clean flat design. Having less clutter on landing pages, home pages, etc. is becoming increasingly important to website owners.
How should website owners be using data to grow their site's reach?
Data has proven to be extremely valuable to bloggers, marketers and website owners, especially in the last few years.
In blogging or online business for instance, one of our goals is to always strive to create content that serves our community in the best way, thus helping us to grow our audiences. Now, without data this would be very hard to do.
I think bloggers and website owners should use data in such a way to ethically gain a better understanding of their target audience. If they're able to do that, it means they'll be able to create more clarity about who they are and what they do, and what business they're in, as well as learn more about their readers, target audiences and essentially create more useful content.
How should site owners go about collecting the most useful data?
This is an interesting question and one that I love answering every time I get the opportunity to.
OK, so email marketing and list building is probably the most important and effective marketing strategy for bloggers and website owners. The most useful data a site owner can set about collecting in this case, is information about their site visitors. For instance, who they are, where they came from, how much time they spend on their site or pages, what pages are they viewing the most, etc.
There's already a bunch of great tools out there site owners can start using properly to start collecting data. Google Analytics being one of them and the other is a tool called Thrive Leads. Now essentially this is a list-building tool, but it boasts a bunch of extremely powerful features that can help site owners collect the most vital data to help them grow their list.
What types of data do you think is overrated or less useful to site owners hoping to grow their audience?
I think whilst Google Analytics has some great tools and metrics site owners can use, some of it is pretty overrated in my opinion. The problem is that a lot of folks will look at just one area of their analytics report, that area being traffic numbers. And here's the thing, a lot of folks won't take action upon looking at those numbers.
Another problem is that too many folks are obsessing over visitor numbers and page view counts, when they should really be focusing on things like where their traffic is coming from, how much of it is sticking to their website and how much of it is converting.
How often should website owners be checking numbers?
I know it's so important to keep track of metrics and various other analytics, but it's also important not to spend too much time looking and dwelling over your numbers.
Changes happen slowly in online business and marketing, so I think website owners should look at their numbers once a week or every few weeks if they can last that long.
I look at my analytics and other various metrics once every two weeks. The rest of the time I'm fully focused on running my business, and moving my business forward. Again, it's always better to focus more on your input so that when you do look at your numbers at the end of the week or month, or whatever, you're not left disappointed by the lack of progress. Well hopefully not anyway.
What are the most important things a website owner can do to make sure people not only find their site, but also stay on it?
You know SEO will always be an essential part of any website owners marketing plan. If you want people to find you online, you have to implement some good SEO practices. However, today there are so many other ways to get noticed online.
Authority marketing, content marketing, connecting and building relationships with the people who matter in your industry, can not only help people find you online, but also stick with you.
Getting people to stay on your site is a complex task in itself I think. Like I've always said and believed in, if you want people to stay on your site for longer, yes, design and usability matters, but you also need to be able to give them exactly what they came to you site searching for in the first place.
Blogging is probably the best way to get people to stay on your site for longer, simply be creating useful, compelling, problem-solving content. There's nothing more powerful in my opinion. And if you can help people, or moreover "help somebody" overcome a particular problem via your site, they're going to stick around and even recommend others to come and check out your site.
What do you think is the worst thing site owners do when trying to engage potential customers/clients?
Hard sell. It's as simple as that. Too many folks are trying too hard to throw products and services down people's necks. Engaging is not about hard selling anything to anyone. Again it's about connecting, learning and becoming someone of value. Creating solutions to problems like I just talked about. When you become a person of value, people begin to trust you, and in the online business world, it's all about trust.
What advice do you find yourself repeating over and over again to bloggers/website owners who want to grow their audience?
The importance of connecting with the right people and building relationships online and offline, too. I go on, and on, and on about this all the time.
And here's the thing. Creating great content is so important, but if no one is reading it, then you're wasting your time. You have to make a conscious effort to get out of your comfort zone to find readers for your blog, find people that will be interested in what your website has to offer.
So that means doing influential marketing, guest blogging, blog commenting, engaging on social networks, blog networks, community groups, etc. And in the offline world that means attending to events, conferences, seminars meet-ups etc, You can't just sit around hoping that your audience will come looking for you, because it will never happen.