Staying current - how to keep up with web trends

Have you seen this new app to improve productivity? Have you read this blog post? Have you seen the new gadget coming out next week? Have you heard of the latest virus or bug to affect websites?

There’s so much happening in the web, communications and tech world that affects all of our businesses for much of the time that it’s difficult to keep up with what’s going on. One of the things I often get commended on is managing to keep up to date. This could be knowing the latest way to deal with SEO changes. Knowing just the right app to help you manage your social media campaigns. Knowing a good process for developing your website into an authority site or a new way of creating landing pages.

But, as much as I might not like to admit it, there's nothing special about me! So in this post I’ll share with you the places I go, to get the information I’ll inevitably be sharing with you when we chat or via email, which have made the most impact on the way I work.

I’m going to break it down into the following sections: Social Media, Websites, Apps and Podcasts. I’m going to restrict myself to only three in each category. This will be difficult as there are so many amazing resources around, but a little bit of discipline is always good.

Social Media

Quite early on I followed some of the leaders in the web design field. What this enabled was not just knowing the latest thoughts about web design, but other related fields too. Health issues like dealing with depression or anxiety. Thoughts on best energising food for producing creative work. The three people mentioned below are thought-leaders in their fields and can help you manage your websites, social media and communications more effectively.

Paul Boag @boagworld - You’ll see this gentleman's name pop up a few times in the content below. He is one of the best I know at explaining to organisations the value of the web and this digital world we live in. It’s worth checking out his books too, such as his latest Digital Adaptation.

Mark Boulton @MarkBoulton - Mark Boulton had a design studio based in Wales until early this year when they were acquired by Monotype. Having produced sites for CERN, Al Jazeera and UCL to name but three, spoken at many of the key conferences around the world, he has a lot to say about the value and importance of design for business.

David Airey @DavidAirey - As branding experts go, they don’t come much bigger than David Airey. His clients include Giacom, Yellow Pages (Canada), Vissumo and many more. He is a bestselling author of ‘Logo Design Love’ –a book I use regularly, and has lots to say on branding and design.

Websites

With so many sites out there to help you keep on top of your website, no one has all day to go through them. Here are three that will help you get to grips with your website and how to make sure it’s working effectively for you.

The Next Web - So much of my tech news comes from The Next Web (TNW). To get an idea of what it covers, here are some of the latest articles: Squarespace (CMS) announces a major upgrade / How to use social media at work without losing focus / Twitter files lawsuit to publish full US surveillance report / Google introduces news and weather app for IOS.

ManageWP - If your website is based on Wordpress, here is a great collection of posts for understanding it and managing it more effectively. Some articles, naturally are aimed at developers, but there are many good posts covering topics like ‘Benefits of using Wordpress’, ‘Is Wordpress right for ecommerce’ and more. Especially good if you have to ‘sell’ Wordpress to colleagues or a boss.

A list Apart - One of the oldest sites about managing your website providing extremely high quality of information. Formatted very much with content in the forefront, it’s a great read to help you better understand your website. Don’t be fooled into thinking it’s just for web designers. There’s a whole host of information to help you understand pricing strategies –so you know why your web designer charges what they do; providing good feedback so your designer knows what you want; writing solid briefs and lots more.

Apps

Evernote - We’ve mentioned Evernote in our newsletter before, but it’s always worth mentioning as an easy way to manage a lot of information. This covers everything from to-do lists to storing all your digital documents to create a paperless office. They have just updated the web application version and it is beautiful.

BufferApp - If you constantly find tweets, images and blog posts you want to share but are confused about knowing the best time to share them, BufferApp is for you. You can pre-set a schedule e.g. Mondays 8am 12pm 4pm 8pm Tuesdays 9am 11am 3pm 6pm Wednesdays … you get the picture. You then just post a tweet through buffer and it will add it to the ‘queue’ and send out at the next available slot. A great time saver.

Readability - When you find a good blog post, do you want to strip out all the distractions –the multiple advert bars, the promos of other posts? Readability allows you to do that. It will display just the text of the blog post and the images related to the post and nothing else to help you have a more focused reading experience.

Podcasts

Boagworld - The longest running web design podcast. Paul Boag and his team consistently provide quality advice for business owners and those managing websites for both large and small companies. There’s lots of banter at the start, but if you can cope with that the rest of the content is priceless.

Insight Podcast - Ok. Full disclosure: this is one of mine on my Creatives Hub label. It’s an interview show where I chat to small business owners, entrepreneurs and generally creative people about how they got started and what inspires them.

RadioLab - This is a bit of a leftfield inclusion, and more to do with science than helping you manage your website, but it’s a worthy inclusion for the production and pure inspirational values.

You are probably thinking I should have included this or that resource. If that’s the case, pop it in the comments below. I’d love to know how you keep up to date.