Digital Developments: 2014 and the year ahead

In 2014, we saw the fast-paced digital industry gather even more momentum with record levels of venture-capitalist funding in London and further consolidation, making the city the epicentre of European tech start-ups and innovation.

6 Jan 2015

by Nakul Singh

The results have led to a shift in the way businesses, particularly in marketing, print and ad agencies, approach their clients with their digital offerings.

Here are some of the hottest digital developments in 2014 and how they may impact on the digital landscape this year.

The rise of User Experience

The User Experience (UX) is rather a new field in the digital industry, but is becoming more defined and increasingly important. Most clients that approach ILN already have online platforms such as brochure websites, e-commerce platforms and social media channels. These platforms are often complex, interconnected pathways that sometimes confuse users and clients are becoming aware of this.

 

UX-Experience

The core principles of the User Experience. Image by Dan Willis (@uxcrank)

Clients now frequently ask for a consistent experience. What this actually means is that, on top of traditional design, they are asking for an easy-to-use interface. User Experience (UX) specialists are now employed at early stages of a project to help define these experiences. They carry out user research, content strategy, sitemaps, user journeys, wireframes and prototypes. If agencies fail to adopt a more UX-led approach, they may end up falling behind their competitors.

The Product Manager

This is fundamentally a discipline born out of start-ups. In an agency such as ILN we have project managers who oversee multiple projects on behalf of our clients. A product manager manages one product that a client is trying to sell.

Moving from a project-based approach to a product-based approach has some compelling advantages. The latter approach is something that can be defined in-house — from the design, the timelines, the features, the price, the goals, the audience and the research. A project lifecycle is usually set by the client and has a limited life span. More agencies are looking to develop their own products to sell. ILN is utilising its extensive magazine archive to produce its own range of products through the ILN shop.

The Tools

In digital, the technology keeps moving and so do the tools. Traditional agencies use Adobe creative suites for their design work. These tools weren’t intended to build interactive applications when they were conceived.  Digital designers who use only Photoshop often fail to convey basic digital concepts such as mouse-hover effects, click events, user journeys, CSS effects and clickable prototypes.

This has led to new, efficient and often cheaper alternatives to the traditional Adobe suite of software. Examples include Sketch for design work, Axure for prototyping and wire framing and Invision for sharing clickable, high fidelity “mock-ups”. This is only a small list: the once dominant force of the Adobe creative suite of software is being challenged by a range of more efficient and useful software. Furthermore, they are considerably cheaper.

Invision

The year ahead

We are likely to see more UX professionals becoming important in companies that offer digital services. Agencies that formerly were client based will start to create their own products and the tools that we once held in high regard will start to become augmented with newer, cheaper tools that are better suited for a digital world.

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