January is over at last and all the 2015 trends and predictions posts are now in. In our cross-sector roundup, we look at what ‘techsperts’ and web pundits are predicting for digital communications in the year ahead. Check out the potential impacts on your business – or your career if your work in this area – and try to separate the wild speculation from the salient wisdom for a sense of the big and ongoing issues. Enjoy!
Augmented reality trends
Mobile AR market forecast to grow to $5.1 billion by 2016. Rise in mobile apps developed for the wearable electronics. Cars collecting data to find parking spots and adapt to traffic conditions. Self-drive and tech-assisted cars. More focus for web devs on security as more data is collected and analysed. In-store 3D scanning/photo booths (in clothes shops, for example).
Algorithm curation and oversight. Content for wearables. Ephemeral content. Personalisation. More sponsored content. More content segmentation. Journalists in demand. Return of print products as a differentiator. More sales-oriented editorial calendars. Storytelling and ‘funny’ will win the day.
Content marketing trends
Brand print magazines. More and better video content. Mobile optimisation. Podcast resurgence. More journalist and editor recruitment as brands seek to compete on content quality. Decentralised content programmes. Personalisation arising from the Internet of Things. Paid media more important in the mix. Chunkable content to fuel multi-channel campaigns. Renewed focus on digital measurement and promotion. Web series to encourage returning audiences. More EU regulation of Google; traffic source data will be harder to come by affecting buy-in. Continued move away from exact SEO keywords to more nuanced and conversational search queries.
Big phones bump up conversion rates (requiring brands to optimise for mobile). Smaller businesses revisit having an ecommerce app but a shift from apps to mobile web browsing means also improving the UX of mobile web browsing. More sites adopt instant ‘Sign up for our newsletter!’ pop-overs to drive customer acquisition. Editorial and product content merge. More in-store digital touchpoints and personalisation to compete with online. Advanced analytics to feed back into product ordering, pricing and even design. International trading boom sees borders disappearing for buyers (impact on localisation). Greater personalisation – even on pricing.
Social media trends
Organic LinkedIn posts. Paid Facebook reach. Custom Twitter images. Instagram for B2C businesses. Content libraries to attract email subscribers. Video posting and viewing shifts away from YouTube. Business moves away from Facebook and towards channels such as Slideshare and LinkedIn. Paid media becomes the norm.
- Content Harmony (booklet)
- Social Media Today + infographic
- Social Media Examiner
- B2C Business to Community
More authoring and cloud-based tools. Increased focus by technical writers on API documentation. Demand for specialisms as technology diversifies. Higher design expectations by users. Doc portals. Documentation sites used as content marketing to sell product. More holistic comms at all contact point with users. Technical writing moves forward in the process as Help becomes part of product design. Continued slow DITA adoption.
Deep learning by machines. Smart virtual personal assistants and smarter smartphones. More Ubers. Fewer but better mobile apps. Mass-market drones and 3D printing. Phablets. Minority Report-style billboards. The Internet of even more Things.
Web dev and design trends
Shift to mobile apps and social sites from desktops; tipping point reached for card design as as result. Decline of coding as website creation tools improve. Rise of flat and material design. Refining of tools for AI-driven design. More visual design tools to facilitate building of responsive design sites. UI animation profilerates. Alternative design languages. Interactive storytelling web graphics replace static infographics. Micro-interactions to liven up static sites. Big picture backgrounds and ghost buttons. Improved visuals and video for user engagement.
Workplace and recruitment trends
Social and mobile continue to be natural partners in recruitment. Creating communities around your brand as a recruitment tool. Mobile hiring and job search on the rise through simplified processes. Increase in freelance and contract recruitment. Rising day rates as agencies and brands compete for talent. Marketing and native advertising jobs will be plentiful to drive sales and place ‘promoted articles’. Hiring process for employees will lengthen as cost of employment increases and may include more rigorous background checks. Work-sample assignments and interview rounds. Candidates further refine their own personal brand through content and social media marketing. Emergence of the Chief Digital Officer (CDO) role. Rise of video recruitment practices.
CJ Walker, director at Firehead, adds:
“As a niche recruiter in digital communications, I see an increase in content-specialised recruitment, both in searches on candidates and as recruiters advertise their own brands. There is a lot of talk about video CVs and interviews. I believe this will increase in the digital content world but it is not a cure-all for getting to know the candidates themselves through more traditional channels. It’s a way to increase the human element of the hiring process but not replace it.”
Image: (CC) Bonita Suraputra/Flickr