How smart wearable technology will impact web design

Why should you care about wearable technology as a business or a web designer?

Whether or not the Apple Watch is considered a flop doesn’t matter. The race to have people using wearable technology is on. A recent report from the Pew Research Center Internet Project indicates that 83% of industry experts believe that wearable technology will see huge growth within the next 10 years.

People who use wearable technology will be even more connected than they already are today. Redg Snodgrass of Wearable World explains: “Right now, if you get a notification or text message, it takes you at least six seconds to read it. You’re immediately six seconds closer to the customer with smart glasses or watches. When you build your business or application, you have to realise that any consumer wants that immediacy."

As technology expands and more users embrace wearables, people will want to be able to access your service or products via their platform. If you’re unprepared for such requests, potential customers will simply search elsewhere to find what they want. The same will happen as did when smartphones were released and many companies weren’t ready with a responsive mobile site and subsequently saw a decrease in sales.

Currently you might be thinking: “I’m not going to buy a wearable smart gadget as the look doesn’t appeal to me.” But you will probably find you are wrong, because Apple is taking wearable technology so seriously that it has recruited TAG Heuer’s vice president of sales Patrick Pruniaux to be in charge of marketing and sales for the Apple Watch. On top of this, Apple has already hired Burberry’s ex-Chief Executive Angela Ahrendts and former Yves Saint Laurent boss Paul Deneve to work on the styling of the Apple Watch and any upcoming wearable technology.

The evidence is there on how quickly wearable technology will kick-off and become popular. All the prime functions of wearable technology are already in place; browsing, social media, instant messaging, camera, video and apps.

How should you as a business or a web designer prepare for wearable technology?

Designs are responsive

This cannot be emphasised enough. If you are a regular reader of my blogs you will know I will always, without fail, mention how important responsive design is. According to a report by Restive LLC only 15 per cent of all websites are ‘fully responsive’.

Microsoft Tag in 2011 predicted that by 2014 mobile devices should overtake desktop internet usage, but in February of this year a Mobile Media Consumption report was published which showed that ‘60% of internet access is mostly mobile.’ Some even predict that by 2025, site visits from desktops will be as minimal as they were from smartphones when they were first released.

Any business without a responsive website should realise that if they’re not going down the responsive design path and are sticking to only desktop websites, they are in fact only reaching a small proportion of the market and that market size will only decrease over time.

Information is instant

The whole purpose of wearing technology as opposed to putting it in your pocket is that the information is a lot quicker to access. As most of the users of wearable technology will always be on the go, they need information delivered instantly and with lightning speed. And it’s evident that with wearable technology, they want everything at a lot faster rate than what they are currently getting on their mobile devices.

It’s now more important than ever to pinpoint the exact needs of your visitors, and strip away any unwanted elements to make sure that the website is running as fast as it can. You shouldn’t let your web design or extra use of content get in the way and slow the user’s access to information.

Before beginning to design for wearable technology, you should ask yourself: ‘why is the visitor on my website?’ Once you have the answer to that question, you will be able to strip away elements or flaws in your design that slow down your site. As for written content, it should be simple and straight to the point - there is no need to explain anything in great detail as the user won’t have time to read it. Remember, the aim is to provide your visitors with the information they need as quickly as possible, so they don’t want to have to read a page of text which could have been explained in a couple of sentences.

Information is Instant on a Apple Watch


Design is minimalist

Minimalism has been trending in web design for many years now, thanks to the Swiss, who designed cracking minimalist posters in the 70s. Minimalist design is more appealing for the wearable platform because the size of the area that provides information is small; too often designers over-stylise their websites in an attempt to impress.

But with wearables, the hard work will be in creating a quiet design that lets the content take charge. I think some companies, who have taken a more flashy and impressive route for their website, may find it hard to go down a simple and minimalist route.

Think about how you’d like your website to be seen on a wearable device. Screen space is limited.


Keeping the design alive with interactivity

The recent Material Design release from Google has given a glimpse into how a few simple animations in web design can make a website more interesting and fun to interact with. Similar thoughts will have to be considered when designing for wearable tech.

Companies that go with being static will have very limited scope in the future when it comes to wearable devices accessing the web. Designers need to devise dynamic websites which focus on interactivity. Wearable tech users will be able to interact with the device using their hands, heads, fingers or their voice. Wearable tech allows users to get inside and be part of the technology in a way that’s never been done before, and actually interact with the web like never before.

Material Design Netflix


What does all this mean for businesses and web designers?

I think it’s safe to say that at this moment in time we shouldn’t be worrying too much about the wearable technology market, but it’s worth considering as you never know how quickly wearable tech could take over, and if you're not prepared for it you will notice a decrease in sales and / or visitors. Like a business plans ahead to be in front of its competitors, this could be the next big move which you’ll want to be ready for before your rivals.

How are we reacting to all this at Smart Arts?

We do like our gadgets here at Smart Arts, especially smart technology, and no doubt when wearable technology kicks off, the majority of us will have a smart watch. We have already started looking into how designs will need to change, and considering how and if we can prepare now for smart watches.

We already build all websites on a responsive grid with minimalism as a main factor, good important core content, along with the right amount of interactivity. So we are confident that it should be a relatively straightforward process to take this to the next level of application for the wearable technology market.

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