In our third #Fiveminuteswith feature, we talk to our Creative Director about trends, innovations and brands.
Hi Hayden. What are your favourite websites in terms of design and why?
HE: Tricky question, there are loads of lovely websites out there. Many of my favourite sites are ones that I feel instantly comfortable with and help me do what I need to do easily, be that reading an article, paying a bill or researching a product.
Wikiwand is a great user interface for Wikipedia. Whilst not a pure website, being a plugin for your browser instead, it does a fantastic job of presenting the wealth of material on wikipedia in a far more visually engaging manner with enhanced in page navigation and a host of user controls around fonts and colours. Perfect when you just have to find out about whether all dinosaurs were feathered or not.
Canyon Bikes is a beautiful cycling site that does the perfect job of showcasing the lifestyle through imagery and video. The site also gives a bike nut the detail and specification of every bike in a comprehensive but beautifully laid out way. Important when you spend your spare time comparing cranks and chainrings!
Which sectors do you think are leading the way in design, and which sectors need to up their game?
HE: Fashion and gadget sites are definitely leading the way. Sites that allow you to preview and interact with a product, try it in a different colour, spin it 360 degrees or build and visualise your ideal spec - using the benefit of the technology to allow users to browse, research and dream from their sofa. Examples are these products, both aimed at new fathers: Bugaboo’s stroller creator and Aiaiai’s headphones configurator.
Tourism is a sector which needs to up its game - too many tourism websites try and offer everything on the homepage. Cluttered interfaces that have become virtual pinboards of what someone thinks any potential visitor wants to see rather than allowing the visitor clarity to easily find out what they want and discover new things along that journey through the site.
Imagery and rich media needs to become far more of a focal point, bring an experience to life for the first time visitor, and offer relevant tools and calls to action for those delving a bit deeper or returning visitors.
What trend of innovation have you been most excited about in design over the last two years?
HE: Online collaboration tools - Invision has changed our world! Tools like this have allowed us as a design and ux team to have clear collaborative discussions with the clients and the team. Our designs are documented and the client benefits from a sense of transparency and involvement in the creative process.
Are there any trends you think we’ll see more of over the next two years?
HE: I think video will have a resurgence. Everyone is rightly concerned with download speeds and the user experience on mobiles, but as we see 4G become more standard and video optimisation improve I think it’s going to become more integrated to experiences. Not just the looping 3 second fullscreen snippets that you’ll see on a number of wordpress templates!
Also we are only still in the early days of personalisation within websites. More sites could start to promote content to you based on what you like to view at a particular part of the day, local news in the morning or sport at lunch. Perhaps fashion/retail sites will change what they promote to you, be it offers or even more expensive items, based on time periods of the month when you have splashed the cash on their site previously.
What project are you most of proud of from your time at Reading Room?
HE: We’ve done fantastic work across many sectors including tourism, banking and sport. From Visit Guernsey to Aldermore through to Arsenal, our websites in these sectors are considered by many to be ‘best in sector’. This feedback alongside the increased visits and results that these clients are benefiting from makes me feel proud, protective and always wanting to do more for them.
A particular project I’m proud of is a project called show.me.uk. This site introduces and showcases museum content and culture to children. The new site we developed was a real step change for the client and their audience, bringing in a simple but brave way of navigating themes and creating connections between items. The ux process benefited from being thoroughly tested by children themselves in the classroom and at home, which in turn allowed us to iterate and improve the ux and design.