A month into 2011, I’ll point to two massive trends really take hold:
1) Curation. Examples: Gilt for luxury. Hipmunk for travel. Totsy for moms/baby gear. People don’t want to spend their days searching through a myriad of search results or shopping bot returns to find what they want. They’ll increasingly trust sites and services that deliver curated results, designed around personal preferences. And they’ll buy like crazy when recommended products are a great fit for what they want/need (if the FedEx packages on our doorstep are any indication).
2) Design. We have seen some killer iPhone/iPad app designs in the last 6 months, and that design innovation is making its way back to the mainstream web. Companies have discovered that high resolution photos and the “Apple look” moves product. Check out any cool consumer app launched in the last few months, and my bet is the most popular ones will have a serious design element to them. Examples include AirBnB and Trumpet Eats. The bar is rising – fast. We’re also seeing a ton of companies that are building turnkey platforms to create and publish on the web and mobile (flash and HTML5) environments – including ads, sites, etc. Examples include Widgetbox and Sprout. Christina Warren put up a cool post on Mashable titled “7 Hot Trends in Mobile App Design” – check it out.
I love both of these trends. Life on the Internet gets better. Design becomes critical. It’s like shopping at an Apple store vs RadioShack (nothing against RadioShack…).