Category: Technology

Top Web Trends for 2018

We don’t know about you, but 2017 was a pretty awesome year for us at the Areli Group! With our pipeline stacked, our processes fine-tuned and team continues to grow; we’re ready to take on everything 2018 has to throw at us. Last year’s web trends post was a hit, so we figured we’d continue it this year! Our goal is to help guide your brand towards the features and necessities your website should have to avoid becoming outdated.

Web Trends of 2018

With so many buzzwords flying around the web right now like cryptocurrency, augmented reality and more it’s easy to get distracted or overwhelmed by the latest craze.

You may notice that this list possesses some of the trends we acknowledged last year. We’ve included them again to emphasize their importance as the internet’s landscape continues to evolve.

So let’s get started!

Engaging, Visual Content

The need for more content will only continue to be in demand as each year progresses. Consider how many voices there are out there shouting to be heard across the web. One of the best ways to improve your web presence is to consistently produce original content that keeps your audience engaged.

When it comes to showing people where to find your product, pictures can speak much more than words on the page. Just ask Cheech’s Own!

web trends

If you are not utilizing visual content such as branded images and videos then you are missing out on a large part of your potential reach. Applying your content to visual formats can help the content’s exposure as images and videos tend to be much easier to absorb on the move. One way to do this is to use the content in a visually appealing way that reinforces the copy.

By using a broken grid layout (which we’ll get into more later on), you can guide the user through a smoother reading path than the traditional jagged, alternating content layout.

Vibrant Colors & Textured Patterns

Staying with the visual content category, let’s talk about overall design and color schemes. The prevalence of flat design is still strong. That said, there are attributes about it that are evolving, including the use of textured patterns subtly used in backgrounds or the use of unique shapes.

web trends

Let’s also make one thing VERY clear. It’s 2018, your website should NOT have any FLASH on it. Most browsers used currently do not even support flash anymore, just ask Adobe!

web trends

One design scheme really taking center stage are the broken grid layouts. The stacked look gives the image some depth while drawing the individuals eyes towards the content that matters the most. It will be interesting to see how brands and agencies use this approach in a unique way to stand out.

Online Support

Part of the experience factors for your website includes how certain issues are approached. Are you making it easy for your followers to contact you with any questions they may have? Do you know your audience groups well enough to intuitively offer the answers to their commonly asked questions? Consider the mindset of individuals looking for assistance. They’re usually confused, frustrated, upset or all of the above.

The way you approach a resolution can be a major differentiator between your brand and a competitor. The easier and more pleasant the process, the happier the individual will be. If you are in eCommerce or offer any type of service, customer support should definitely be a top consideration for you this year.

AI & Chatbots

It can be difficult to consider how you can improve or maintain your customer support initiatives while trying to scale your brand. Rather than spreading yourself or your team too thin, consider the use of chatbots and AI. With every year they become a little bit smarter, a little bit more intuitive. While auto-responding bots set for various scenarios may not be ideal for your brand, it could be helpful to gate or direct visitors to certain pieces of content. A great resource to try is Intercom, which acts as a digital concierge for any customer service requests you may receive.


With so much content out there, how are you capturing the attention of your visitors? Besides using the latest web trends and having a diverse amount of content, are you giving your visitors the experience they expect? Through the use of micro-interactions on your website, you can provide your visitors with an intuitive experience they’ve grown accustomed to while having a bit of fun through the development process of your website. From the simple to the complex, your website’s use of micro-interactions could be what sets your website apart from a major competitor.

[codepen_embed height=”500″ theme_id=”0″ slug_hash=”XZOWve” default_tab=”js,result” user=”keitpetrillo”]See the Pen How to Animate a Coffee Drinking Sprite With ScrollMagic by Keith Petrillo (@keitpetrillo) on CodePen.[/codepen_embed]

Accessibility & Security

If you aren’t aware, 2018 is the year for you to keep this on your radar! Over the last few years, new guidelines have been set to assist those with disabilities navigating through the web. Categorically, those with motor, cognitive, visual, or hearing impairments need to be considered as you design and develop your website.

You can find the full set of guidelines here.

Additionally, if your website doesn’t have an SSL certificate you should get that resolved ASAP. Google has made it a requirement, which means not having a secure website in will affect your search rankings and more.


This is the last one because at this point it’s not a trend, it’s a necessity. It’s 2018. According to a recent study from socPub, 57% of users won’t recommend a business if they have a poor experience on their mobile site. With so many users accessing the web from their smartphones or tablets, the time to merely consider a responsive framework is over. You need to make sure that when you are in the website design and development process you are working on your mobile version sidecar.

A great example of keeping mobile in mind is Dribbble, which was recently showcased in a post from Invision.

Use What Applies

As always, consider what could work for you and your brand and what doesn’t. It never makes sense to go forth blindly into the year. Put together a plan based on the data you’ve collected in 2017 to ensure any issues are resolved as you move forward.

While many of these are suggestions, keep in mind the importance of accessibility and a responsive layout. Both will greatly help you gain more traction in the years ahead!

How to Choose the Right Web Hosting For Your Brand

web hosting

Getting Started with Web Hosting

Choosing the right website hosting provider and server type is a very intimate process. The hosting type you choose has to be the right fit for your business and needs. Most times, business owners tend to only care about the price tag, regardless of it’s a right fit for their needs. They don’t realize how many different types of web hosting providers are actually available to them!

The Importance of Website Hosting

The web hosting provider you choose has a bigger impact on your website than you’d think. Consider your website as a house. If it was built with an insufficient foundation, your house will crumble. As your website’s foundation, your hosting provider can directly affect your website’s performance.

Whether you realize it or not, there’s a lot happening behind-the-scenes you may not initially consider. All are important factors in keeping your website running at its peak performance. For example, if your server doesn’t have the latest coding languages installed, your website could break based on how it was built. In turn, this could result in a bad user experience and affect potential conversions.

Factors to Consider

There are many factors to consider when choosing which hosting platform would be best for your business. 


With any hosting provider you consider, remember, there is no such thing as 100% uptime. Even with large providers like GoDaddy or Amazon’s AWS, there are documented instances of downtime. Once you let that sink in, consider how these companies handle support in these instances. In some cases, if the main terminal is offline hosting providers offer load balancing. This is when the system will piggyback onto another, duplicated server.


I’m sure you’ve heard the old saying, “you get what you pay for”. This is especially true when it comes to choosing your hosting provider. Most shared hosting providers have similar pricing, which seems great. That is until you run out of space or bandwidth. Then, they tend to jack up the prices when you try to upgrade. Again, each site is different in the amount of traffic your website gets. In a perfect world, your website would get thousands of simultaneous daily users. In that case, you would need the most beefed up providers. Realistically though, we understand that’s not always the case and you could get away with a leaner server.


Your business is growing, great! You’re seeing increased traffic to your site, even better! Now you have to consider expanding your server to handle the increased traffic. There are different ways to expand your server based on which platform you choose. While some are easier than others, and some are more expensive than others, it boils down to what’s best for your business.

Web Hosting Options to Choose From

There are many different options available for hosting. Some are bigger, faster, and better than others. Our advice is, don’t make a decision solely on the price tag. Consider your estimated traffic, expandability, feature requirements, etc. If you’re putting your heart and soul into your business, it’s not smart to cut costs on the cornerstone of your presence.

Shared Servers

Shared servers are the most commonly used web hosting providers because they usually offer all-in-one packages for hosting, domain registration, and emails at an affordable price. Providers include:

While they do have some upsides, shared web hosting servers tend to have limited resources. Security also tends to become an issue with hundreds of sites running the same functions. The two biggest downsides to Shared Servers is the lack of control over key features including Apache (which is the backbone of any site) and the lack of customization.

Dedicated Servers

Dedicated servers are when you rent or purchase a physical machine separated from other server machines. Think of these as your own private island with the freedom to do whatever you want without any consequence other than yourself. This powerful setup definitely requires the proper support team, which will help during expansion and keep costs low. 

Virtual Private Servers

A Virtual Private Server (VPS) is a segment of a server terminal, independent from others on the site, so there’s no risk of cross-contamination. The server specs are virtualized based on the entire terminal and are good for rapid expansion. Providers include:

For a beginner, diving into a VPS can be extremely intimidating as you are on your own for everything. When it comes to utilizing a VPS, you need to make sure you have the support of an experienced manager or agency who knows the server’s operating system to maintain and update.

DIY Site Builders

Do-it-Yourself website builders have become increasing more popular over the last couple of years. This is because they often have simple drag and drop editors and are fairly cheap. While they seem customizable, they tend to be very ‘cookie-cutter.’ There’s very little room for creative elements that could reflect your brand and makes you blend in with the crowd. Providers include:

Our Recommendations

We prefer to use a Virtual Private Server from DigitalOcean. They offer one-click stack installations, server statistics, unlimited backups, and much more all at an affordable price. DigitalOcean gives you the tools you need to setup the perfect environment and ability to expand for your website or application.

web hostingFor us, Virtual Private Servers are ideal because of the customization aspects. We can customize settings to fit our needs and works great for WordPress, our go-to content management system. For example, Shared Hosting providers tend to limit the maximum file upload size in WordPress with no ability to increase it. With your own VPS, you have the freedom to set your own limits.

What You Should Consider

The server type you choose goes beyond just hosting your website. It’s the foundation of your site and the options you have available ultimately determine how structurally sound your site will perform.


Any business owner can tell you about their growing pains. In the technology industry, you never want to feel constrained to one specification. With Shared Hosting, you’re often limited to how large your server can grow and would pay an arm & leg to have it upgraded. With a Virtual Private Server, however, you have the ability to easily scale your server specifications like bandwidth, hard drive size, and more at a touch of a button. Another advantage of using a VPS or Dedicated Server is having the ability to increase the maximum file upload size you can perform on your CMS. 

Uptime Monitoring

This is a must have tool for any site, and can be added to any web hosting provider. Tools like Uptime Robot will notify you in real-time if your server ever goes down. This is done by pinging your site on a regular basis and looking at the response code. If it responds with a poor code, it will email or text you in real-time. This instances could be due to a disconnection with the database server. Now, what do you do if your website is down? With Shared Hosting you’ll probably be on the phone with tech support for a while. When it comes to a VPS or Dedicated Server, you have the ability to tackle the problem right away. Usually all it takes is a simple reboot.

Ease of Use

We define ‘Ease of Use’ as how much control you have to upgrade and installing specific modules. These can include items such as SSL Certificates, updating code languages, etc. Usually, this is where Shared Hosting servers shine. For example, GoDaddy offers an easy-to-use cPanel dashboard for managing everything but doesn’t typically give you the ability to upgrade your core features that power your website. This includes the PHP code version, which is very important if you’re using a CMS like WordPress or Joomla. They’re constantly updating their frameworks to be in line with the latest code versions. While they are more complicated to manage, a VPS or Dedicated Server gives you the freedom to manage every aspect of your server.

Our Recommendation

We have used a variety hosting providers in our years of experience and after much trial and error, we have created our ideal toolkit for hosting client websites. For a web hosting provider, we use DigitalOcean for our Virtual Private Server in conjunction with CloudFlare to manage the domain’s DNS routing and Uptime Robot for monitoring. It may seem as a basic setup, but DigitalOcean Droplets give us the freedom to expand and manage every aspect of our client’s website. In turn, we’re able to meet their specific needs while CloudFlare provides great support for managing DNS records, caching, custom routing, and so much more. Lastly, Uptime Robot is just a great asset because it’s free for our needs!

In the End…

There are a lot of options out there when it comes to web hosting, so how do you know where to start? The short answer is it all depends on your needs. If you just need a small landing page, a Shared Hosting plan from someone like GoDaddy may be right for you. On the other hand, if your business has plans to expand, we recommend a Virtual Private Server. Working with a company like DigitalOcean will give you all the room you need to grow. For those companies that are building and selling your own applications, you may need to go as big as a Dedicated Server that you can control. Each option serves its own purpose and uses, but it comes down to you to decide what’s best for your overall goals.

Why You Should Build Up Your Brand Awareness

improve brand awareness

Over the last 20 years, technology has made the leaps and bounds the Jetson’s once teased us about. With video chatting, virtual reality, and smart homes just to name a few, we’ve become connected in ways we could have only imagined three or four decades ago. As the world and consumer behaviors change, it means businesses that once dominated the landscape must also learn to adapt to the resources at hand. We briefly touched on the subject in our recent Web Trends post, but we wanted to dive into the fast-paced digital world a little deeper to emphasize how important it is to improve your brand awareness online.

In our post we’ll cover:

  • The modern consumer
  • Exposure and competition
  • The need for digital
  • Common issues you may face
  • Tools that can help

Regardless of how successful you were twenty years ago, there is no sustainability without a strong digital component.

The Modern Consumer

Today’s shopper has the same needs as consumers twenty years ago but has more resources available at their fingertips. Rather than browsing through a catalog or physically walking into a store, shoppers now have the ability to review products, purchase and even get fitted for them right online. A recent experience with North Face’s online store made it apparent to me how far the digital world has actually come. Their sizing algorithm is in-depth and quite accurate, keeping the shopper engaged through the entire process.

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With that said, their basic needs have remained the same, they want the best value for their money with as much convenience as possible. When both of these are met, they have no problem becoming an advocate for the brand and sharing their purchase or experience with the group of peers on various social platforms. On the other side of the coin, a negative experience will also garner the same outcome with unsavory results.

At this stage it doesn’t matter if you’re a retailer or a service provider, we’re all selling something to an audience of buyers. If you don’t understand their shopping behavior, it will be difficult for you to convert leads into long-lasting customers. Without any skin in the web game, it’s near impossible for you to compete with your industry peers or sustain any type of growth.

Which leads me to my next point…

Your Competitors are Already On

Just because you don’t see a need for the web doesn’t mean that’s the bottom line. I bet if you did a quick search right now you would find that a majority of your competitors have been putting a lot of their efforts into their digital presence, whether it’s social, a website, an app or all of the above. And those are just the competitors you know about. The web has given everyone the ability to start their own stores or brand which has left the landscape quite congested. How are you standing out? Even if you had the best services or products, if you’re not sharing your experiences or pushing your audience to promote you, your brand won’t be able to scale at the pace of your competitors.

Right now you could be thinking, well my clients are all from strong relationships I’ve personally built and I want to keep it that way. Okay… but what are you going to do when your sales funnel starts getting light and you have no plans on reaching new prospects or retaining your current clientele? What’s stopping you from taking that ‘strong relationship building process’ and applying it to a sales strategy on the web? Rather than seeing the web as an unnecessary aesthetic component to your brand, consider it as your brand’s full-time representative.

The Need

Your modern consumer has certain characteristics that you need to accommodate. When it comes to conversions, those who can offer visitors the right information in a convenient and engaging way will win. Those who lack the answers, take days to answer inquiries or have zero to little web presence tend to fall by the wayside. They become forgettable, as consumers only way to deal with those who can help them immediately. Call it the age of instant gratification.

Even if you already have a website, are you meeting the needs of your followers and potential customers? When was the last time you checked into your analytics to see how your pages are performing? Having a website isn’t enough, it’s really about the meat and potatoes. Your design can be appealing, your messages can be engaging, but if that’s where the content ends your brand won’t be able to perform.

My recommendation would be to audit your data and content you can identify potential pain points your customers may have in addition to your website’s overall weaknesses. From there you can create a stronger content strategy and use certain automation and chatting tools to help visitors find the right information they need.

Common Issues

It can be difficult to figure out where to begin. You’ve probably read hundreds of posts discussing what you should and shouldn’t be doing, but how do you get started? If you don’t have a website, start there. For those of you that do have a website, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is the design responsive and appealing?
  • How are your pages performing?
  • What type of content is your competition producing?
  • Are you blogging consistently?
  • Do you have a way to capture potential leads off-hours?

More than likely you were unable to answer yes to all of the above questions. If you did, you’re either lying to yourself or you are ahead of the game. If it’s not the latter, you’ve got some work to do. But don’t panic!

Your best bet is to tackle a couple of these initiatives at once. While you are transitioning to a responsive and appealing website, create a content strategy that offers more value than page views by reducing your bounce rates and increasing time on page. Also get a list of blog topics you can run with while the site is in the development stage and reach out to industry influencers to start building relationships. This will really help when you start pushing blogs and want to increase your reach. From there, things will start to fall into place, but don’t relax just yet. There’s plenty to do.

Tools to Help

While all of the points we touched upon are extremely important, it can be difficult to see the value when your team is already focused on the day to day operations. Finding extra time throughout the day to devote to these responsibilities can be close to impossible for small to mid-sized teams but it is feasible. Your best bet is to take it one step at a time while keeping an eye on the bigger picture.

When it comes to a transition or digital initiatives outside of your wheelhouse, my recommendation would be to hire a creative agency that has the proficiencies you’re looking for. You’re not the first client to face these issues, and they know the necessary steps to take to get you up and running. This way, you can still focus on the business aspects of your brand while gaining the reassurance that you have a group of creatives in your corner looking out for your best interests.

If you are averse to working with creative agencies (for whatever reason that may be) there are some alternatives. While they may help you get a grasp on certain aspects such as automating your website or creating a content calendar, keep in mind this is one small cog of the larger machine. Transitioning to the web or putting more emphasis on your digital identity is not a part-time gig, so be prepared to work longer and harder as you take on more. The downside of taking everything on is burnout, which is more than likely when you’re working twelve hour days trying to handle everything for your business and digital initiatives. If this is the route you want to take definitely look into these types of tools to help you efficiently take on more:


Whether you want to accept it or not, social media is an extremely important aspect of your brand. It acts as a medium for customer service while making your brand relatable and engaging. Finding the content to post each day can be a daunting manual process though which is where scheduling apps come in. With apps like Sprout Social and Buffer, you can curate and schedule content for the whole month in mere hours rather than taking time each day searching for content and manually posting.

improve brand awareness

Most of the scheduling apps even have other features such as content recommendations and native monitoring that helps you engage with followers and potential customers based on keywords, allowing you to easily find the conversations relevant to you and your brand.

Design apps

Please tell me you are not creating your marketing collateral or designs within PowerPoint or Paint. You’d be surprised with how many times we’ve encountered this in the past. If you want to be taken seriously, you have to take your brand seriously. It’s time to advance to the big boy design tools to reclaim your brand with consistent, professional assets. Here are some of our favorite apps that we’ve used:

Creative Cloud

improve brand awareness

When it comes to design a name that always stands out is Adobe. In the past, their software was somewhat intimidating due to the price and all of their capabilities. The Creative Cloud helps to alleviate that, as Adobe now offers their entire creative suite for a monthly subscription based on your needs. With access to their forums and resources, learning how to navigate and utilize their suite has never been easier.


improve brand awareness

As the new kid on the block, Sketch has had some pretty big shoes to fill when it comes to designing. Their app is similar to Adobe Illustrator and InDesign, but their user adoption is much more welcoming. While they make it extremely easy to open up and learn on the spot, there are certain limitations within the app that can make it somewhat frustrating at times. My biggest qualm is the fact that their app is a native software download, which prevents teams from collaborating from one joint account. It’s definitely worth exploring though they always offer a free 30-day trial.

UX Pin

improve brand awareness

If you have a vision for what you want your site to look like but have no experience in design software like Adobe or Sketch, give UX Pin a shot. Their tool is used by a ton of big brands for everything from website wireframes to mobile app mockups and more. Their web app interface makes it easy to just pick up and get started, but there are certain limitations that lead designers back to apps like Sketch and Adobe. If you are just getting started and want to lay out your ideas, UX Pin can be a great resource for you to try.


improve brand awareness

I’m a little bias when it comes to Canva. I use it a lot throughout my work week for various projects, usually in the realm of social media and email marketing. It is definitely one of the easiest design apps to pick up and learn, and they offer a lot of great, free content for you to use. With layouts specific to industry dimensions and a slew of web fonts and designs for you to choose from you can easily create branded images and visuals in a matter of minutes. Don’t expect a web app version of Illustrator or Sketch, though as Canva has very specific uses. My favorite aspect of Canva is their business version, which automatically defaults to your branded colors, fonts and set characteristics each and every time you create a new design.


When you are trying to get your brand out there, optimization is an absolute must to start your journey to the front page of search results. I could go on for days about the different apps or methods you should take to get a footing in optimization but here are some of the resources you should definitely start utilizing:

SEM Rush and Moz Bar

When it comes to analyzing your competitors, no tools are better than what SEM Rush and Moz Bar offers. Both will scan your competitor websites for focus keywords, outbound links and page authority, which all play a large role in rankings. By understanding the approach your competitors are taking you can see where you fit in the landscape and create a plan to dominate.


For those of you using WordPress as your CMS platform, Yoast makes it extremely easy to optimize your web pages while giving you prompts and tips to strengthen the page. It goes one step further, offering a readability score which can affect on-page times and bounce rates as well. Try the plugin out today to see how you can create a strong website and digital foundation for your brand!

Email Marketing

Staying in touch with your customers and generating leads is a must for your brand. Using email marketing apps can definitely help your efforts, but use it in moderation. Unless your followers are asking for tips daily or you have a special promotion going on, try not to bombard them with emails each day or week.

improve brand awareness

Your best bet is to use it as a method to keep your consumers updated while offering incentives on your website to entices others to opt-in.

MailChimp and Constant Contact

Here are two of the resources that you should definitely try. Both of these are great web apps, making it simple to integrate opt-in forms, create specific lists and produce branded email templates that look phenomenal on desktop and mobile. When it comes to choosing between the two, it really depends on your personal preferences and budget. You should definitely check them out!

For a larger list of some great web tools to add to your arsenal, check out our post on the 10 Best Apps for Startups you should be using!

Continuing to Learn

Bringing your brand to the digital realm is no easy feat and should not be considered something that can happen overnight. Like any big sale, client relationship or marketing strategy, building your brand up on the web is a calculated journey. Taking the right approach and making the right decisions will help, but it’s always better to take your time rather than try to rush to the finish line. For more advice on what you should be focusing on, take a look at our Web Trends for 2017 post. And don’t forget, we do this for a living, so if you’re looking for some guidance on a particular topic we’re only a quick email or tweet away. Good luck!

Top Web Trends for 2017

2016 had its fair share of ups and downs, but one thing is for certain. The power of the web and digital marketing is growing exponentially, which can be great for some and daunting for others. If you’re slow off the starting line for transitioning into the digital realm, don’t panic. There are a lot of simple ways to bring your brand to the digital landscape, going beyond the traditional website format and a handful of social posts. Let’s take a look at some of the top web trends that picked up quite a bit of momentum in 2016, and how they will play a role in the years to come.

In a nutshell, we’ll highlight the importance of:

  • Mobility & Responsive Design
  • Flat Design’s Evolution
  • Content’s Overall Impact
  • Diverse Content
  • Quality Over Quantity
  • Creating a Personalized Experience
  • Micro-Interactions
  • Filling in the Gaps with Automation
  • Destroying the Silos
  • Real Data Over Vanity

We hope that with some guidance, your journey through the digital world will be less scary and more exciting!

Mobility & Responsive Design

According to a report by Ericsson, 80% of the world’s population will be smartphone users over the next 4 years. That’s over 6 billion people with the ability to access the web, apps and more right from their phone, no matter where they are. In 2016, there were more consumers browsing the web on their smartphones than desktops, which means you need to start considering your mobile design first and foremost.


top web trends

For us, mobile always comes before desktop. There’s no point in spending all of this time on a website that looks great on desktop and like crap on mobile. Just think of how you search for information when you’re on your phone versus desktop. A responsive design requires more thought on the overall user experience. How are you providing your visitors with the information they’re looking for in the easiest and fastest way possible? Is your page loading at the mercy of large files and encumbered with complicated functionality? The days of pinching and zooming in to read text and navigate is over. You need to put mobile first.

Flat Design’s Evolution

Even if you’re not familiar with the term, you have definitely encountered a fair share of flat design examples over the last year, and there doesn’t seem to be any sign of stopping. Using a minimalist approach and vibrant color schemes, flat design quickly replaced skeuomorphism as the industry standard for all digital design facets. Through the use of simple shading and contrasting colors, flat design has helped users navigate through websites with more ease while creating an immersive experience.

top web trendsPersonally, we’ve always been fans of flat design. Skeuomorphism always seemed a bit off to us, and the amount of detail they require always came with large image file sizes that would bog loading speeds and overall site performance. By keeping it simple and using a minimalist approach you can flex your creative muscles by creating a flat design that looks great on everything, while also optimizing your site’s page speed and efficiency.

As 2017 progresses, be sure to transition your graphics and branding to a simpler look mirroring the characteristics of flat design to help your brand stay relevant and not look outdated!

Content’s Impact

It has become pretty simple for anyone to create a website or blog. That said, the web has become congested with people sharing their personal content hoping to go viral. With all of this noise, it can be difficult for brands to get their message out there to the right audience. Still, producing content is better than just ignoring it. Whether you are a startup, a small business or a big brand, you should always be producing content. It’s the best method to prove to visitors and potential customers that you are a credible influencer in your industry.


top web trends

Content is key. Without it, you cannot successfully sustain your business. If anything your site will become stagnant as your competition advances. It’s also incredibly difficult for consumers to trust a brand that has no content to support their claims. Consider this, would you trust a surgeon if they couldn’t explain to you the process you are about to undergo? The web is no different, if you’re offering it, you better have the content to show off your proficiencies. A strong content strategy can also help you scout the landscape much better and understand potential opportunities to improve your overall customer experience. Just ask yourself, with all of the competition out there how will you separate yourself from the rest?

Diverse Content

While content is extremely important to your brand, you can’t rely on just a few blog posts each month to pick up traction. As I stated earlier, there is an influx of content being produced every day, every hour so how will you stand out among the rest?

Consider these stats from Contently 

In 60 seconds:

  • 4 million people like Facebook posts
  • 2 million users favorite Instagram
  • 350,000 tweets are pushed
  • 7 Million Snapchats are watched

top web trends

As unfortunate as it is, we’ve become a generation of headline skimming to absorb our information. Our attention spans struggle to keep us focused on the material in front of us for more than a minute, which requires a new approach to publishing content. There are still those who love to get nerdy and read pages and pages of blogs but to accommodate all of your followers, a diverse format strategy is necessary. Visitors have different methods of engaging with content, and the results of trying new methods can be surprising. If you’re going to take the time to produce the content, you may as well do it right. Don’t rely on just a blog post to get your voice out there, get diverse and creative with your content formats. Experiment with podcasts, videos, live streams, and webinars to offer your audience more in ways they will love.

Quality Over Quantity

This point and the two above about content go hand in hand. Don’t kill yourself to produce content, be realistic. If it takes you a month to script, shoot, edit and post a video, so be it! Don’t bite off more than you can chew as you will hurt your brand more than help it. When you have a consistent posting schedule consumers can look forward to new posts and information. If you start out the gate with a post a week and are not able to sustain it, it can reduce the amount of trust they have in your brand.

Whenever we’re planning out our posts or engaging with others we ask ourselves, how does this provide value to others? If we can’t answer the question easily, we go back to the drawing board. Your followers aren’t sheeple, they all have different views and beliefs. More importantly, they all know the difference between real content and click bait. Constantly churning out content that’s just ‘meh’ is the fastest way to tarnish your credibility. You may get an influx of visitors in the beginning, but that won’t last long. They’ll grow tired of your antics and stop visiting or sharing. You can quickly go from an influencer to a spammer in that sense. Quality should translate to all aspects, including your designs, social engagement, customer service and more.

Creating a Personalized Experience

One aspect of the web that has become extremely important in the last few years is the overall user and customer experience. With the competition congesting your industry, an effective method to standing out is to offer more out of the overall experience a consumer has with your brand. This broadly covers everything from your website’s overall page flow, making information easy to find, and more. Make each visitor or customer feel special from the attention and personalization of the website to offer an experience they will surely share with their peers.

Throughout this post, we’ve discussed how it is important to differentiate yourself from the competition. If there is one top web trend to follow from this post, it’s improving your overall customer experience. We all want to be treated with the attention we feel we deserve, and we all want to feel special when visiting a website. Ask a peer to navigate through your site or sales process and get their feedback on the overall experience. Was it warm and inviting or static and cold? If it’s the latter, your main goal for 2017 should be to improve your customer experience. Consider your audience and their needs. What are they looking for? How can you provide them with the information and assets they need? Is it easy to find through your navigation and website?


As we mentioned earlier, we’ve become an impatient generation. We no longer want to just see a page loading bar against a blank white screen. Another one of the top web trends from 2016 was micro-interactions. Micro-interactions (which are interactions within an interaction) play a role in personalizing the overall experience for every visitor, giving them a way to stay engaged with your content or website rather than them getting bored or anxious and leaving the page.

top web trends


We may be in the digital realm, but nothing grinds our gears more than clicking a link and just seeing a stark white page as everything begins to load. It’s the fastest way for us to close out the window and go to someone else’s site. If you are noticing page drop offs, bounce rates, and other discouraging stats, consider adding some micro-interactions to your site or app. Visitors love to discover these and sometimes will go out of their way to show others because of how much they enjoyed the overall experience. If you’re looking for some examples of micro-interactions, just look at your Facebook feed. When you see a post from a friend, you can do a whole lot more than just like or comment on the post. They’ve created a set of ‘reactions’ to offer an emotional connection with a post which brings a new level of experience to interacting with your friends.

Filling in the Gaps with Automation

Now I know you’re probably feeling a bit overwhelmed after reading all of the points we’ve addressed so far, it’s a lot of work! How do you keep track of all of your efforts, post daily, engage constantly and so on and so forth? By automating certain aspects of your work, you can keep your day running smoothly. There are a ton of great assets and resources for you to use out there, from content curators and post scheduling tools to chatbots and more. Many of these have a set it and forget type method, giving you the opportunity to focus on what you need to, while checking in when you can.

For now, automation is helpful, but always keep in mind the human-to-human aspects to interaction. Even if you are using a chatbot to acknowledge and resolve certain issues, don’t let that be the final destination. Always add a bit of human factor to everything you do, so you can keep your brand genuine and stand out amongst the competition.

Destroying the Silos

Another trend that has been gaining momentum over the last few years is taking a more seamless approach. Traditionally, we would push out certain types of content on specific platforms, forcing consumers to traverse through the digital landscape from one social profile to website or another. Now, to provide a better user experience, there needs to be a seamless approach to all of your efforts.

There’s nothing worse than launching a campaign that is not in line with your other departments. It can make you look extremely unprofessional and affect your credibility. By taking the time to understand your brand’s overall initiatives and how each of your departments are involved, you can create an approach that encompasses all aspects. In the end, it helps you create an overall better brand experience through consistency and consumer-driven messaging, which can be a great asset when trying to differentiate yourself from the competition.

Real Data Over Vanity

If you’re monitoring your analytics and social data, keep the following in mind. Forget ‘vanity’ metrics like page visits, likes, followers, and shares. Likes don’t pay the bills, conversions do. Take a deeper dive into your real data, and understand how your visitors are behaving. Look at the time spent on pages, bounce rates, and overall visitor flow. By using real data to improve your site or social presence you can do much more than just fish for likes and shares.

top web trends

We always knew that likes and shares would only get you so far. There’s no ROI on vanity metrics alone. Real data also makes it much easier for board buy-in by showing them the true key performance indicators and a return on investment. If there’s one thing to really consider in 2017, it’s how you are utilizing the data you have been collecting to improve your brand’s overall efforts and performance.

To Sum it Up

While we covered a lot of ground there’s still so much to talk about! We can go on for days about each of these trends. Ultimately all of these top web trends translate into one core message. Digital transformation is key. It’s a sink or swim situation. If you’re not addressing these points above it’s going to be hard for you to stay competitive with all of the other brands. Consider how you can use what you have as a foundation and build off of it. Think about your core messaging and what you want to provide to your clients. Whatever you do, don’t let these trends scare you away from the web. Always keep it simple and go for what you can manage. The rest will start to fall into place once you’ve created a plan. Good luck!


Getting an ‘Internal API Server Error’ on Rapportive Lately?

Let me tell you a quick story on why I think Rapportive is DEAD based on the Internal API Server Error everyone is receiving.

If you’re as scrappy as I am, you like to be as prepared as possible before engaging in a sales discussion while spending little to no resources when gathering information. Traditionally, with privacy settings on social media and the lack content most people publish about themselves it can be hard to do conclusive due diligence on your targets.

Enter Rapportive

There are some free tools that have made it easier to nail down contact information for cold emailing, but one my favorites has always been Rapportive. If you aren’t familiar with Rapportive, it’s a Chrome Plugin that lives inside of your Gmail and runs a Linkedin profile check based on the email you are composing a message to.


This was extremely useful for a few reasons, but for me, it’s an excellent way to verify a prospect’s email while still remaining anonymous before initial contact. It also served as an effective backdoor to Linkedin’s connection algorithm which is huge, as it allowed you to connect with anyone.

Back in 2012, Techcrunch confirmed Linkedin’s acquisition of Rapportive for $15 million in cash which came as a surprise to me. At first. After seeing how Linkedin is aggressively building out premium sales tools like Sales Navigator and Pro Finder it all makes sense now.

A Breakdown of  My Old Workflow

Up until earlier this month, I used Rapportive every day as an essential part of my sales prospecting pipeline. My workflow looked like this:

  • Search around for a prospective company
  • Find the appropriate person within the company that I needed to reach out to
  • Google around for that person’s email or search on Linkedin
  • Once I found the email I would verify it with Rapportive
  • Once verified, I would send a personal message to them on Linkedin
  • Shortly after, I would send an email with a soft pitch
  • Follow up a week later

I have found that using Rapportive to connect on Linkedin before cold emailing increases my odds of getting a first conversation with the prospect dramatically. This, in turn, increased my conversion rates.

Rapportive’s “Internal API Server Error” Stopped me dead in my tracks

Let me start this off by saying I am a very active Rapportive user. During the first week of November, I noticed it was throwing an “internal Server API Error” that basically killed my entire workflow. Naturally, I started googling around to see if maybe the API broke. This has happened several times in the past, but this time I found a Linkedin support topic with people having similar issues.

I posted in the discussion to add to the mix and create more demand to fix the issue, but no one from Linkedin seemed to tend to the problem or recommend a solution.

Linkedin Sales Navigator announces Chrome integration

Today, upon logging into Linkedin Sales Navigator I noticed at the top of my screen there was a call to action to download the Sales Navigator Chrome plugin for Gmail. If you live inside your Chrome browser like me, you love helpful tools for Gmail and Chrome so naturally, I installed the plugin.


Immediately after refreshing Gmail, I noticed Linkedin’s new plugin takes on Rapportive’s core functionality, which rendered Rapportive completely useless. What’s more, the Sales Navigator resource added a ton of other useful features for prospecting.


My New Workflow

Since starting my premium trial of Linkedin Sales Navigator, I have adjusted my approach and shortened my efforts quite a bit. Here’s my new workflow:

  • Search around for a prospective company
  • Find the appropriate person on Linkedin Sales navigator
  • Use Linkedin Sales Navigator to send a pre-made message to the prospect
  • Send an email shortly after with soft pitch
  • Follow up a week later

Say Goodbye to Rapportive

On one hand, it’s refreshing to see companies like Linkedin making acquisitions like Rapportive and tying them into new products that actually improve sales workflows and cut down on lead time.

Unfortunately for those who were riding out Rapportive for its free capabilities, I think the jig is up. Linkedin seems to be forcing the use of Rapportive’s features exclusively through their new premium services. Pull out your wallet folks, I doubt we’ll ever see Rapportive or any other service that uses the same API work again.


I would love to hear what do you think about it. Please share your thoughts below!