Web marketing is a complicated beast. You have to write high-quality web content that people want to read, you have to build a vibrant presence on social media platforms, and you have to focus on search engine optimization. As eCommerce levels continue to rise -- web users are expected to spend $1.5 trillion in 2014 -- those tactics are only going to become more important.
While those methods are important, they are arguably not the most important tactics for success online in 2014. Web design is the crucial element of any successful advertising campaign this year. Quite simply, your web design is the lens through which your customers view everything you do. You can write great content, but if it's published on a poorly designed site, it won't matter.
Understanding web design is often reduced to learning code and basic design principles, but to anyone in the industry, it's a much more complex science. Take, for example, web browsers: web pages need to be designed to work with the most popular browsers. This year, that means making sure Google Chrome can display the pages you design as intended.
How Microsoft Lost the Browser Wars
Anyone who grew up alongside the internet knows that Google's domination of the web wasn't always a matter of course. Microsoft's Internet Explorer was the number one browser from 1995 until the early 2000's. Microsoft had control of 95% of the browser market share in 2001. However, in 2002, Mozilla Firefox arrived on the scene, taking a bite out of IE's dominance, and in 2008, Google Chrome came to deliver the final nail in the coffin, even if IE limps on.
By May 2013, Chrome had become the most popular browser. Today, it owns 55.7% of the market share, with IE only controlling an estimated 10.2%. As you might imagine, Microsoft's fall from grace isn't a matter of luck or the decade long trend of Google being the popular kid on campus. The house that Gates built has made and continues to make bad choices with their browser.
They Stopped Moving Forward
After releasing Internet Explorer 6 in 2001, the folks at Microsoft apparently threw their hands in the air, exclaiming, "We're going on vacation!" That vacation has lasted 13-years. As Mozilla offered incredible customization capabilities and Google joined the party to improve on Mozilla's formula, Microsoft sat like stagnant water, collecting the bacteria that have plagued the company ever since.
Security Seems Secondary
Recent estimates put the global impact of cyber-crime between $300 billion and $1 trillion a year. Despite increasingly aggressive cyber-criminals, Microsoft continually fails to ensure Internet Explorer is secure. This shouldn't be read to mean that Chrome and Firefox haven't had their issues -- they have. Rather, IE's issues are constant. As of February 2014, a third of IE users were vulnerable to cyber-attacks thanks to holes in programming.
What Chrome's Dominance Means
One thing is certain: the importance of great web design will not be diminishing anytime soon. By all accounts, Google will remain the number one player on the web for the foreseeable future. Subsequently, doing everything you can to optimize your web design for Chrome will remain crucial to successful marketing for years to come.