In its short 30-year history, the Internet has evolved tremendously. From its humble text-only beginnings back in 1991, the web has grown and transformed to become an essential part of our everyday lives.
Without doubt, one of the biggest changes we’ve seen over the past few years has been the prolific rise of online video – and it shows no signs of slowing. Google’s YouTube serves an incredible five billion videos per day. However, video also surrounds us on all the other major social platforms (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram etc).
The rise of online video was mainly down to HTML5’s native support. As video is now easier than ever to include on websites, we will continue to see a rise in the popularity of the media – particularly on blogger sites and smaller independent sites.
If you’ve ever strapped on a Virtual Reality (VR) headset, you’ll already be familiar with the tremendous potential VR offers designers and users alike. Being able to virtually visit a place offers a completely different perspective and can give insights simply not possible in traditional flat media.
VR tours and visits are already popular online. However, the technology has tremendous additional benefits for product tours or enabling clients to understand production processes etc. Moreover, VR can be used to showcase items that have yet to exist – for example, a housing development, future aircraft or even the scheduled plans for inhabiting Mars.
As we see sales of VR headsets continue to rise, it is likely designers will move more into the area, making more immersive 3D environments. While the tech is still in its infancy, it’s worth remembering all new technology takes time to bed-in and reach widespread adoption. VR design and development offer an exciting new world for web and online development.
Augmented Reality (AR) merges the online and offline worlds and offers fascinating potential for development online. AR typically involves displaying overlays or extra information through the view on a mobile device (cell phone or tablet), to bring additional data to users – hence the term, ‘augmented’. With AR, designers can provide users with a completely different experience, offering far more information.
The widespread availability of 5G networks is going to have a huge impact on the way websites are designed in the future. At the moment, all designers are fearful of the eight-second rule – the fact that a user will typically leave a site within eight seconds if they don’t find what they’re looking for.
5G is expected to offer download speeds of around 1Gps – meaning designers won’t need to be so hesitant at including hefty content on pages, improving the range and diversity of content available to users.
Mobile devices (cell phones, tablets, smartwatches etc) already account for over 50% of all Internet traffic – and all signs are that this figure is increasing. As our devices become smaller and more useful, we will continue to see mobile access eclipse fixed-line Internet use.
Of course, the main challenges for mobile device usage have already been answered with CSS, HTML5 and Responsive Design, but designers will also need to start thinking in original ways to tailor specific content aimed at various screen sizes. It often feels the entire world is turning ‘smart’ and, in the future, we’re likely to see screens appearing on all manner of devices – from shoes and other wearables to the tech that surrounds us in the new world.
Design companies like Bluelinemedia, who specialize in web design in Gloucestershire, already design sites with a variety of screen sizes in mind. However, the sheer range of smart devices in development already will mean even stricter testing and development practices.
Over the years, Samsung has been at the forefront of design and development, often producing ‘out there’ items which suddenly become the norm. With the release of the Galaxy Fold, the company has yet again produced a world-first – but one that many other companies are watching very closely.
The Fold is essentially a smartphone and tablet in one and will lead to some intriguing design possibilities for web developers – particularly from a User Interface (UI) point of view. It could be that Samsung may have just developed the smartphone of the future – a design that other manufacturers are sure to follow and may just provide the mobile market the shake-up it so desperately needed.
Easily the most interesting and exciting web development on the near horizon will be the increased integration with online Artificial Intelligence (AI). The tech is already commonplace in many of the bigger online shopping apps and sites that can predict or make suggestions on which products might interest us. However, it is highly likely we will see the widespread use of AI across other areas online too.
Even apps like Spotify have integrated AI tightly into their systems to make auto-suggestions on music the user might like – and we’re likely to see similar on websites too. Modern AI and machine learning is developing at an incredible rate and in the coming years, the tech will revolutionize many areas of online development – including, possibly, automating much of the processes involved in web design itself.