Thanks to the explosion of mobile technology, nearly half the world’s population has access to the web. Right now, at this very moment, there are over one billion websites, and that number climbs higher every single day. In just a quarter century, an academic science project called the “internet” has grown and matured into a communications revolution.
So, what’s next? To quote Jedi Master Yoda, “Difficult to see. Always in motion is the future…” Still, mediated on this we have; after reading the tea leaves, here are a few (non-binding) predictions on the future of web design and development.
Bots get a bad rap – not all are malicious and evil.
Put simply, a bot is a software application that runs a basic, automated task. As the web evolves, bots are becoming more integrated into the overall UX (User Experience) of a site to help visitors carry out specific tasks. For instance: Chatbots have become a new standard for online customer support. The extent of their usefulness is still in question; for now, deep learning limitations can quickly expose the non-human element. However, as artificial intelligence continues to progress, future online interactions will advance as well. The website of the future should be a natural dialogue between user and an interface assistant. Open the pod bay doors, HAL.
Web-based applications, or apps, are a game-changer. Still, there’s a lot of noise out there and an avalanche of options. Yes, there’s something for everyone, but do you really need it? Should you sign up for Zizzle? What about Bing-Bong? Does your ChatFace account connect to Flip-Flop? Probably not, since those products are all completely fictitious.
The point is, with so many choices, buzzwords and acronyms, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. The more relevant questions are: “Do you really need an app?” and if so, “Is it a web app or a mobile app?” Maybe it’s not an app at all, but Software as a Service (SaaS). How are these different from one another and which are the most relevant for you?
Chances are you’re going to need something; most web projects have some sort of third-party integration, and many have more than one. Unfortunately, disparate components behave differently, and they don’t always play nicely together. The website of the future will fix this problem, and cut down on the laborious and costly process of integrating all those different solutions. Just imagine: a real-time, single sign-on dashboard that brings all your software together into a seamless experience. One ring to rule them all.
The business side of the web, namely as an advertising mechanism, is its very foundation. However, the way we’re served advertisements and how we engage with that information will continue to evolve. It’s a never-ending chess match between digital advertisers and consumers.
Today’s web users are conditioned to ignore most promotional content. To compensate, banners and ads became larger, followed by an intrusive wave of pop-ups and interstitials (ads that block content until you find and tap the little ‘X’). In response, savvy users made ad-blockers a new standard on their browsers. Google recently interceded on the buyer’s behalf: sites where advertising obscures too much content are now penalized with a lower search ranking.
The future of web will likely see a “less is more approach” with fewer ads and more relevant content. For now, native ads (where advertisements integrate seamlessly with a website) and incentive-based content promotion are the new normal. Traditional display ads are already being reinvented (again), and are leaning heavily on a content type that’s transforming the web. Read on.
VIDEO (KILLED THE RADIO STAR)
It’s official: video is quickly taking over the internet. By 2020, video will comprise over 80% of all consumer internet traffic. Currently, there’s more video uploaded to the web in one month than television has produced in the last three decades. Wow.
Video checks all the boxes for digital advertisers and end-users; it will dominate the web of the future for many reasons. Search engines love it and consumers can’t get enough - visitors share video more than any other content type. Click through rates sky-rocket when an email contains a video. Perhaps most importantly, video increases user engagement, time spent on a website and, ultimately, conversions.
The video age will not only change the way information is delivered, but also how its created and distributed. As the web evolves from a text and image medium to full motion/video, more advanced tools will be introduced for a new generation. Sure, anyone with an iPhone can already shoot and post a quick, guerilla-style video, but it’s easy to spot (and often dismiss) the amateurs. In the future web, it won’t be so easy to tell the difference; everyone will be able to produce and broadcast professional quality content quickly and affordably. Better get ready for your close-up.
OUT WITH THE OLD
The future of the web will likely redefine the web itself, and end traditional design and development. Users are demanding complex and immersive content delivered lightning-fast, and their primary means of consumption is a mobile device. To give the people what they really want the web industry will break free of the time-worn conventions and rethink the medium.
We in the industry are creators and inventors and tinkerers, so we’re already working on it. Virtual and Augmented Reality, Textile Design (or Quantum Paper), Pageless Websites, Non-Standard Navigation, Motion-User Interfaces, Age-Responsiveness, Hapnotic Feedback, De-Linearity – these are just a few web design and development buzz-phrases to remember. The web has always been and always will be fluid; as technology advances and user behavior changes it’s necessary to adapt.
THE FUTURE IS NOW
Was dial-up your internet connection the last time you thought about your website? If so, we should talk. Let us help you prepare for the future of web; schedule your free, thirty-minute website assessment today!