In my first week at After Digital I was tasked with writing a blog on the top trends of 2014 that interest me and why. The three top trends that have caught my attention and that I think are of key importance for 2014 are Responsive Web Design, Content Creation and Enhancing the Customer Experience.

Trend One - Responsive Web Design

2014 is the year when mobile web really takes over and the big question being asked is - if your customers are mobile then why aren’t you? It has been estimated by analysts that in 2014, over 50% of all website visits will be from a mobile device - having a website that is accessible and responsive across all devices has never been of greater importance.

Latterly in 2013, purchases from smartphones and tablets reached £8.2 billion, accounting for almost 18% of total UK e-commerce sales and this is expected to grow in 2014.  With the increased usage of mobile devices for purchase, this can only be good for business, right?

An exciting time for businesses taking things to the next level and I look forward to differentiating those on top of this digital trend and those falling behind!

Trend Two - Content Creation

You may have a defined loyal customer base, however there are potentially whole other target groups out there open to not only you but your competitors also.  The mantra ‘content is king’  has never been reiterated so much, and in 2014, this has never been more true! In a competitive marketplace, it is essential to go above and beyond the competition in order to grow a business and get to the top.

Enhancing your offering to customers through content, i.e. providing them with a form of value from visiting your website, is a great way to build loyalty and can ultimately lead to action. From my personal experiences, businesses offering tips and advice have encouraged me to purchase from them in favour of competitors, as they have provided that little something extra.

In 2014, it is expected that 70% of marketers will increase their content marketing budget, illustrative of the success so far of this approach and the impact creative content can have on a business. Of course content is a great addition to your customer offering however, for full effectiveness, there are a few tips to follow which a number of companies do very well.

1) Content should be snack-size - enough to provide the reader with a little knowledge but a short read to consume on the go.

2) Strike a balance of being informational without using overly confusing jargon.

3) Content must interest the end user and be effectively tailored so that it is relevant.

4) Prompting input from customers or existing readers encourages co-creation; showing customers you value their opinions can lead to increased levels of trust and loyalty.

Content marketing has proven effective for a number of businesses and it is great to see the effects of what sharing a little knowledge with those who value it the most can do for business growth.

Trend Three - Enhancing the Customer Experience

Pulling in the above trends can add to the customer experience. Happy customers mean happy businesses.

Customers worldwide now expect a richer experience with brands online. In fact, two thirds of smartphone users now expect a similar experience via mobile as they currently have on desktop - I am one of them.  Personally, having to scroll, zoom and download images have all had a negative impact on my user experience in the past. In contrast, visiting websites that provide us with informational content in an easy to read format and user-friendly navigation has enhanced my customer experience leading to conversion.

Creative and relevant content and an accessible web platform (i.e. responsive design) add value to your online proposition, enhancing the user experience and encouraging positive association with your brand.