Guess what? That gorgeous Website you launched last year is already nearly out of date.
Online platforms of all kinds are becoming increasingly important
in every facet of American life, and the technology is changing so
quickly that if you miss a beat, you’ll fall behind.
While aquatics professionals don’t need to be high-tech
wizards, maintaining a cursory knowledge of the latest Web trends
can go a long way toward big benefits for your facility, and your
“To combat increased competition, every single pool operator
should have a detailed plan to increase or improve marketing
efficiency, community outreach, swimmer safety, staff training,
staff retention and revenue generation,” says John Oliver,
marketing and safety specialist at West Bend Mutual Insurance Co.
“In 2012, and beyond, there is zero chance of effectively
making these improvements without an online presence, updated
communication tools and a willingness to embrace new
To help you speak the language with your IT folks, here are six
trends in Web design that are changing the look and functionality
of today’s Internet.
1. Responsive design. The smartphone is changing
the way people view the Internet. In fact, 25 percent of Americans
do most of their Web surfing on phones rather than computers,
according to a Pew Internet Project report. Web design now must
accommodate screens of all sizes, from phones to tablets to
“Responsive Web design” is a new concept using fluid
grids that allow a site to auto-scale its layout and design to fit
the screen being used. The alternative is building an entirely
separate site optimized specifically for mobile. Choosing which
option is best for your business depends on your budget and
Redesigning an existing site to be responsive will cost more than
creating a separate mobile site, but building a responsive site
from scratch costs less than building either a traditional or a
mobile site. As another option, vendors such as WordPress provide
Web site templates that accommodate responsive design into which
you can more easily migrate your information.
A word of caution: Highly interactive sites with lots of video and
images will run slower on mobile devices, even when made
responsive. In these cases, it’s best to create a separate,
scaled-down mobile site.
2. New languages. The mobile revolution is
affecting Web design down to the basics. Most sites are built using
HTML (to create the skeleton) and CSS (to control the aesthetics).
The newest iterations, HTML5 and CSS3, are fully functional on
Another advantage of HTML5 is its ability to support audio and
video without a Flash player, which doesn’t work properly on
many mobile devices. Once dominant in Web design, Flash is quickly
create slide shows, pop-ups, forms and other effects.
3. Simple look. Site designs are becoming
increasingly minimalist and sharply focused on user needs.
Intuitive interfaces with fewer pages and elements make navigation
easy. The goal is to impress users with valuable content around a
key idea, not dazzle them with design or overwhelm them with
4. Super-sized. Focusing on minimalism will force
designers to find new ways to create visual impact and make a
lasting impression. Expect to see more oversized logos and large
background images. Headers may take up the entire page, but allow
users to scroll down for more content rather than forcing them to
Large photos that make a big statement also are increasing in
popularity (see Facebook’s new timeline design). Expect to
see more sites incorporating high-resolution images as page
backgrounds that demand attention.
5. Custom typography. If your site still uses Times New
Roman and Arial, it may soon look as old-fashioned as a flip-phone.
In the past, fancy typefaces required designers to build images
that bogged down a site’s performance. That has all changed.
New custom-font tools such as Google Web Fonts, Typekit, CSS
Typeset, Typetester, and What the Font, allow designers to embed a
— the fonts are automatically displayed without slowing the
site or forcing users to download anything.
6. Social media integration. It is already nearly
impossible to find a Website without social media features, but
until recently, these elements were relegated to the footer as an
afterthought. Expect Facebook, Twitter and the like to take
starring roles as tools to increase interactivity.
By making it easier for visitors to connect and share content,
it’s possible to boost customer engagement and unique Web