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The Steve Jobs Effect” on B2B Web Design”

ipadOther than revolutionizing the technology, telecommunications and music industries, not to mention global culture, Steve Jobs is having a decisive impact on the world of B2B web design.

Recently, while making a presentation on a laptop projecting a web browser, I seemed to be having trouble making eye contact with the CEO; not usually a great sign. As it turns out, he was very pleased because the work looked so good on the iPad that had been commanding his attention.

Is this indicative that we need to start changing the form factor for which we are designing digital communications? Our qualitative research has indicated that less than 4% of our B2B clients’ website viewers are visiting on mobile devices and a small portion of those are tablets. This would indicate that while we should watch that number, for now, it’s business as usual.

But that would be ignoring the “Steve Jobs Effect.” The iPad has captured the hearts and minds of the ruling class, and regardless of whether “most audiences” are not (yet) using it, the decision-makers increasingly are. That means that web designers must consider how our designs appear and function on the iPad as well as on a web browser.

This has implications on at least two unique areas, navigation and animation. Certain configurations of content are more pleasing on the iPad than others. These may or may not be the best design decisions for a website. Yet, in the case of our client, the view on the iPad influenced the decision about which navigational option the client chose. I believe this is the first of a trend that is here.

The second area of influence is in the use of Flash, which up until last year was a major factor in many web designs. The day that Steve Jobs declared that Apple would not support Flash was the day our clients began to distance the technology, regardless of the paucity of iPads being used in the B2B world. As a result, the “Carousel” web design has become the “homepage du jour ” of 2010 -2011. IBM does it, our competitors do it and we do it. Using the relatively ancient — and “ipaddable” —technology of Javascript, anyone can create a slideshow “carousel” of screens to represent different themes and offers.

The transitions are relatively primitive but clients are willing to forgo the uniqueness of Flash for the security of knowing that their website will work on an iPad.

“Thought Leadership” is another name for the “Steve Jobs Effect;” thought leadership so powerful it reminds us that even in a world driven by analytics, genius has its privileges.