The world of tech changes at a remarkable pace. Initiatives like the Internet of Things means that everything is increasingly connected. A simple change in one area of tech often has a knock-on impact on many others.
Take for example the introduction of smartwatches. The latest report from the NPD Group shows that, in the US, 1 in 6 adults now wear them. They use them in all sorts of ways. Mostly to receive notifications and alerts, monitor performance and health. However, increasingly people are using them to go online. That trend is pushing companies like Fastfwd digital marketing Birmingham to consider smartwatch users when they design a website.
It should not really surprise us that people want to do this. Give someone a screen and they will automatically try to go online. It is an almost instinctive reaction. People do not seem to be put off by the fact that the screen is small.
Provided they can see the text and buttons they will happily scroll to glean the information they need. The fact that people are prepared to do this is why many consumers dumped their desktops and laptops ages ago. It is not unusual to come across internet users who use their smartphones for everything they do online.
To some extent, something similar is happening with smartwatches. Businesses are realizing this and trying to tap into this trend. They are asking web designers to come up with pared-down versions of their websites for this group of users.
Unfortunately, the previous approach of sticking with the same layout and reducing screen resolution does not quite work for smartphones. It is also not enough to simply rearrange the elements of the site so that they are listed down the page instead of across it. Smartwatch screens are just too limited for this approach to work. If you reduce the resolution too much the text becomes too blurred and the buttons so small that they are impossible to press accurately.
Things have to be simplified. Elements that do not offer a functionality that the user needs have to be eliminated. On a smartwatch, logos are nothing more than clutter. They just get in the way and are an irritant.
Users only have time to glance at their watch. When you present too much information to them they have to stop walking, or talking, pause and look at their wrist. It may only take them 30 seconds to glean the information they need. But, by that point, their concentration has been broken. When that happens 3 or 4 times every hour, it has a negative impact on that person’s productivity. So website designers have had to come up with new ways to present information to users.
The interfaces are changing too. Touching or clicking a menu button to navigate the site is possible on a smartwatch. But, it is far easier to swipe or use a voice command to move onto a different part of the site.
Web design for smartwatches is very much still at the early stage. It is sure to evolve over time. But, smartwatch engagement and UI is something business owners need to be aware of and factor into the design process the next time they have a website created or updated.