Azura at the Web Summit 2016

The latest web industry trends discussed during the event.


From November 6 to 9, over 50,000 tech CEOs, founders, startups, investors and public figures came to Lisbon, Portugal for Web Summit, Europe’s biggest tech conference. Together, they discussed a wide range of topics related to today’s technological revolution.

Azura was fortunate enough to take part and would like to share with you the latest industry trends as well as our impressions of this event.

Web Design

The Evolution

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Drawing a parallel between the evolution of car design and web design, Oliver Reichenstein, founder of iA, noted: “What all design industries have in common is that to every trend there is a counter trend, to every movement a counter movement.”

Current web design can be described as simple, minimalist and somewhat standardized when compared to the early web. In no small part this is due to the popularity of mobile devices and their small screen sizes. By condensing everything to the minimum, mobile forces you to be minimal.

However, we are now seeing trends that are evolving towards more graphic layouts that are richer in visual appearance and overall complexity. Designers are starting to shift from a now common minimalist approach to solutions that require more creativity to ensure the best UX (User Experience) combined with maximum visual creativity.

Ecological Movement

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Environmental concerns are pushing more and more people to adopt different ways of life; be it the food we consume, the clothes we buy or the homes we live in. It is only natural that some web industry designers are responding to these concerns by promoting more ethical design solutions.

In a world where every brand is competing for attention, it is easy to get lost in the race and chase “likes,” “shares” and other types of engagement all while losing focus on what matters the most: the information that we are sharing should be useful and help people improve their lives.

Folks at Time Well Spent are asking designers around the world an important question: “By the time you got people's attention, have you sacrificed what getting attention is all about?” Time Well Spent’s co-founder, Tristan Harris, thinks that designers and brands should compete for helping people, instead of competing for engagement. Designers are thinkers that solve problems and one of those major problems is making sure that our clients focus on delivering useful information to their audience instead of engaging in a quest for attention alone.

Future Vision

The subject that consistently came up in many talks is the future of web design. More and more designers and brand strategies are oriented on the future, and not merely on short-term profits.

As designers, we have two options: produce faster, cheaper and simpler products or find things that resonate with us and our audiences. Finding things that are important and meaningful to us will translate into relevant and ethical design solutions that will take our viewers on a journey leaving them enlightened and happy, rather than overwhelmed.

Other important topics discussed were privacy and hacker issues, the increased use of emojii, the growing popularity of ad blockers, and bots becoming smart enough to fool us. Virtual Reality may seem like it’s in the distant future, but some experts insist that the addiction to our phones marks the true beginning of VR. Observing fellow attendees, it is clear that smart phones already have a very strong grip on our lives – so much so that our dependence on those devices can easily be compared to addiction.


Heroic Power of Branding: Making the Customer a Hero

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Ije Nwokorie, CEO of Wolff Olins, compared the concept of branding to the customer’s journey as a hero. To tap into what matters to the customer, he suggests treating the customer as a hero and taking him or her on an exciting journey.

In his presentation, Nwokorie stated that your customer’s journey through your brand should be just like the hero’s journey in Hollywood’s famous action movies. It should begin with an introduction to your product, which he compared with the call to adventure. A series of events, such as the refusal of the call, meeting the mentor, crossing the threshold, completing multiple tests and overcoming obstacles, ensue as the customer is presented with various aspects of your branded assets. It should all culminate in concepts that are real and meaningful and in the end should let the customer feel that he or she is the hero of the story.

Above all, Ije Nwokorie reminded us that brands we create don't belong to us, but to the customers we are creating them for.


Content Drives Marketing

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From ads to video to stories, content is defining how many of the world's leading marketers connect with their audience. As the importance of relevant content is becoming fundamental in making your message matter, brands should concentrate on making their content key and not just an afterthought.

Although we do what we must to cut through the noisy space that is the Internet, there is a fine line between relevance and customer bombardment. The former will result in making the brand increasingly meaningful, while the latter will make the brand seem like a nuisance.

The future of content marketing is bright. The trends are moving away from general article creation to highly focused and useful information sources, enhanced by short videos and relevant graphics.


In addition to loads of useful information and new business connections, Azura was not only greatly inspired by the Web Summit’s talks, networking and workshops, but also by the sheer beauty of Portugal itself.

The organizers of Web Summit went out of their way to create an inspiring atmosphere fostering peer-to-peer exchange at the main venue as well as through social gathering activities such as the Sunset Summit (happy hour with live music, food trucks and local artisanal shows) and the Night Summit (all-night pub crawls in one of the most vibrant areas of Lisbon).

Portugal, and particularly Lisbon, left us breathless with its unique and vibrant beauty, rich cultural heritage and fascinating cuisine. We could not think of a more fitting or charming city to host a summit of this kind.

Web Summit 2016

About the author

Natasha Yefman is the founder and creative director of Studio Azura, a digital agency specializing in branding, web development and inbound marketing.

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