This year is no different, but we start it in a new national lockdown. On a personal level, it feels that we are all experiencing the fatigue that comes with nearly a year of lockdowns and restrictions, but, in our professional lives, it’s important that we keep looking ahead to ensure that our organisations are meeting the needs of this changing landscape. So, for us, this first blog post of the year is more important now than ever. What does 2021 mean for technology?

Go to where your customers are

Since the start of the global pandemic, businesses across the world have been using technology to adapt and change how they do things. Our customers are now at home. In fact, we’re all at home! The products and services we need and want have changed and how we can access those products and services has also changed. We all need to adapt and go to where our customers are.

In this remote world, digitisation is the key to success, but how far should you and how far do you need to go?

Part digitisation occurred relatively quickly for many organisations in the early months of the pandemic to replace the vital bits of their business or to adapt their offering in order to survive. Museums, galleries and theatres are now hosting live talks, as well as taking their collections and productions on line in a bid to encourage some revenue stream whilst their doors remain closed. Pubs and restaurants pivoted to provide online tasting classes in gin, wine, whisky and cheese alongside a take away service. Travel companies are offering virtual tours to different locations to engage with their customers, showcase their knowledge and services, all with the aim of remaining top of mind for when booking exciting holidays is possible again.

Mid last year, we worked with Trinity and Pembroke colleges to develop a virtual alternative to their open days. But with another year of restrictions ahead are more organisations digitising more of their offerings and processes? We’re currently in discussion with 2 other Oxford colleges who want to go 100% digital. Paper processes would no longer exist, and all processes would exist completely online. This is a big (and exciting) step and requires some serious thinking through. In the case of replacing a paper process, an online form needs to be attached to a workflow system in order for the form to be processed and an action taken. The action will inevitably need to tie into other workflows and sources of information. Through the whole process, security and access controls need to be in place (and kept up to date) to ensure that the right people can see the right bits of information at the right stage.

Complete digitisation can be a brilliant way to survive and indeed thrive. If done properly, it can open up new customer acquisition opportunities, increase internal efficiencies and provide a new world of analysis which will help feed into the cycle of future business development.

For some organisations such a radical step may be vital for them to stay relevant in this new world. For others, part digitisation may be enough for now….

Where are you at? Did you launch a digital offering during the early months of the pandemic? Is it working for you? Does it need refining? Are there other parts of your business that are still very much physical which would benefit from becoming virtual? These are all questions worth considering as we start a new year remotely.  

Presenting data online

One of the common themes we’ve experienced over the last year and will continue in this year is the need for organisations to present data online. This may be new types of data which are being gathered and need to be shared in light of the pandemic or taking data which exists in physical form that now needs to live online as we all exist remotely.

We’ve provided a variety of different solutions in recent months for a range of different clients. This has included The Blavatnik School of Government who asked us to build an online COVID tracker and several other clients with large scale research data and reports which needed to be displayed online in a way that was easy for the user to digest, as well as being protected with the right levels of access control.

Would it be beneficial for your organisation to present some data online? Are you stuck on the best way of doing this?

Intranets have helped

Put simply, an intranet is an internal facing website and a great information tool for your employees. They can house policies, company news, project files, booking systems, bulletins, HR support, vacancies and all sorts of other types of information depending on the needs of your organisation. We built several intranets at the start of the pandemic, helping those businesses to not just adjust, but to work effectively in a set-up of remote working. We predict even more of a need for intranets as we continue to work remotely in 2021.

This year’s trends in web design

It’s fair to say that our websites will continue to be the shop window to all of our businesses as we progress through 2021, so if you are thinking of a refresh or a re-build then here are some of the design trends this year that you may want to take into consideration:

Fonts. A retro feel is a popular choice at the moment and set to continue this year. Mixed with some modern element, you can create a really unique and standout design for your website.

Horizontal scrolling is definitely on trend and a great choice for image heavy, copy light websites.

User control. Users are demanding more control and with it, more choice. They want to be able to switch off and on certain animations, choose dark or light mode and choose themes or design elements for example cursor styles for the website they are interacting with.

Drupal 9 upgrades are calling

Technology evolves quickly and we can confirm that the latest advancement of Drupal which is version 9 is up and running – and has been since last summer. If your website runs on Drupal 8, you will need to upgrade (this is a relatively straightforward back end upgrade) by October 2021 at the latest. We are currently working through a plan to make this as straightforward as possible for our customers. We are also continuing to communicate with those on Drupal 7 to plan in upgrades before the Drupal 7 end of life in November 2022. If your website needs an upgrade, get in contact with your web developer to ensure that you book in an upgrade in good time.

We’re here

If the changing needs of 2021 are making you feel technically lost or anxious, or you want to have a chat through how to adapt your business to go to where you customers are, then we are here. We’re a friendly team of technical experts. We use Drupal to build brilliant websites and have a wealth of experience to solve the toughest of unique business challenges. Check us out

Wishing you all a safe, healthy and hopefully happy 2021.

January 2021