The Impact of Wearable Technology on Web Design & Development
Wearable technology is an interesting and extremely fast growing area of IT innovation. This technology has captured the world’s attention and opened our minds to the great possibilities wearable tech has through integration into our daily lives. The question is how wearable technology will impact the way businesses interact with their clients and how they can best provide and present the information their prospects are looking for.
The best known example of wearable technology and the item that has received the most media attention and hype is Google Glass. This is a wearable headset and display which provides information from the internet through voice commands. It has very similar features to smartphones, you can take photos, videos, and send messages. For the last few years Google Glass has been in a test phase; however the wide-scale consumer launch is expected in 2015.
Other wearable technology, which also captured our imagination and the spotlight recently, are smart watches. These are wrist watches that contain the latest technology innovations to become powerful and compact internet-enabled devices. A lot of technology businesses, including Samsung and Sony, have already released watch-style devices, with Apple due to launch their iWatch early in 2015. More traditional watchmakers, including Tag Heuer, are also expected to launch their versions of smart watches soon.
Fitness wearable devices, health care monitoring devices and tailored wearable technology are other examples of advances in the way consumers can access information and interact with others through wearable tech.
The global investment in the innovation and development of wearable technology is increasing rapidly, from $750m in 2012 to an expected $5.8bn in 2018 Transparent Market Research.
Prominent and market leading companies including Facebook are also interested in wearable technology as shown by the acquisition of Oculus VR by Facebook in March 2014. Mark Zuckerberg recently said during a question & answer session in Columbia that “it’s pretty easy to imagine that in the future we will have something we can wear”. He said that he “imagines this to be another platform that’s more natural and more built into our lives than mobile phones are right now”.
So with all this media hype, the fast-paced innovation and development, and the huge investment in wearable technology – what does this mean for websites and web design?
When businesses are considering building and developing a website in 2015, should they keep wearable technology in mind?
The short answer is absolutely!
However, at this stage the wearables that are on the market have a long way to go to win consumers over.There are still too many technical issues, including battery life, size and how the devices are used.
The progress that is being made is extremely fast though, and if businesses think they can forget about the impact wearables will have on how their clients search for information they will quickly fall behind. Businesses which prepare themselves for when wearables become mainstream will gain a competitive advantage that can last for a long time.
As with the explosion of the use of smartphones, new design and development principles will need to be applied when creating a website ready for wearable technology. Here are four key points to keep in mind:
Make the website interactive
Wearables make it possible for users to access and interact with content effectively on small screens, using buttons or voice control. For the content of a website to be useful and easy to interact with on a wearable device, it is important to ensure the website conforms to the highest standards of accessibility.
Create a responsive web design
It is amazing how many websites today are not responsive. What this means is that a website might work well and look good on a desktop computer, but as soon as the website is opened on a tablet or a phone the navigation becomes difficult. This is because the website is not designed to display differently depending on the device the user has in front of them.
With wearable devices an extra layer of complexity will be added to the current responsive design requirements. More screen sizes and shapes will need to be added to the design of the website so your information displays effectively no matter what device a potential client is using.
Keep the design simple
Simple web design is the most effective way to attract users and prospects. An added benefit of simple website design is that it creates more flexibility across all devices, including wearables. Create a website design which puts the content of your website first and reduces any distractions from the key messages you want to share.
Easy to read text
Because wearables have smaller screens, the key is to use easy to read text, with clear fonts to ensure your content is easy to access and interact with. You might even consider using different fonts for each type of device, including versions for mobiles, desktops, and wearables.
Even after reading this article you might still think, “my business and website can wait – the common use of wearables is not going to happen too quickly”.
If that is the case I encourage you to think about how recently smartphones were introduced and how much these devices have changed user behaviour. Smart phones have affected how users look for information and want to interact with businesses, the same will happen as a result of wearable devices.
This is an opportunity to move ahead of the pack!