The Internet is the future! Or so people have been saying for decades now. They’re not wrong – for most people it is an important part of their daily lives now. Whether it’s Facebook, Youtube, or the bakery around the corner, odds are you’ve looked at a dozen websites today already, and you will probably do the same thing tomorrow, and the day after.
Many of us have fixed internet habits that won’t change easily. However, what will change is the Internet itself. Web Developers know this better than most – requirements and standards are constantly changing and evolving, and what was great 5 years ago, is now dated at best.
More so than most industries, in Web Dev you need to keep up with the trends. And what those trends are? Well there are many. Unhelpful, I know. So here are some of the stronger ones, the ones that there’ll be no escaping from.
This certainly doesn’t seem like news, and it’s not – responsiveness is now a hallmark of good web design. You’ll hardly find many new websites appearing that aren’t responsive. Many of the ones who are, however, don’t do it very well, have overly big minimum heights, are only partially responsive, change too much, or don’t change enough…
Responsive web development has become more sophisticated, and it’s important to keep up. With over 50% of internet surfing and traffic now happening on mobile devices, the so called ‘mobile first’ approach is ever popular. Even big platforms like WordPress now advertise their mobile first approach. There is no getting around it – working from a small screen towards bigger ones is definitely the way to go.
It’s not time to abandon desktops and laptops yet, however the tendency towards tablets and mobiles is strong, and still steadily on the rise. If you’ve never tried it before, give the mobile-first approach a go – it changes the process considerably, and the results can be spectacular!
What screen are you reading this on?
Along with responsiveness came interactivity when this first became a thing. Websites no longer consisted of stoic ‘point and click for information’ pages, but were getting more and more interactive! While non-interactive websites of course remain popular, and many businesses will want a solid no-frills website, the fact that interactivity and bots are now in common use, opens new realms for web developers.
Perhaps the most common type of interactivity on business sites are now chat windows. While users can find them anywhere from helpful to annoying, they are there – and usually populated with bots.
Depending on how the user interacts with the bot, he may well be put through to a member of staff, however the first few interactions are a bot that replies automatically, ideally depending on user input. While static bots (bots that reply the same things, no matter what you say) are still in use, they are slowly being replaced with more sophisticated ones. Many are now able to ‘fake’ a conversation very convincingly, giving the user a positive experience interacting with them.
This is done via machine learning. This has been around since the dawn of computing, but with the more recent rise of the machine (learning), came better algorithms, more accurate responses – which then developed to give us more realistic experiences. Now whatever your opinion on them is – they are very popular, and the better they get, the more in demand they are too. Of course, there are other bots than the ‘generic customer service’ one.
Skype even offers a range of bots now. Whether you are bored or want to add some more contacts, in the menu, you can now choose from a selection of bots, and there are dozens now, all of which talk about different topics, and with various degrees of adaptability to your input. Look to them for inspiration for your next project!
- Original content.
Slowly, the dawn of stock imagery has come to an end. People are moving away from using stock footage or images, and more towards custom and bespoke work. Be it videos, animations or photographs, more and more people now tend to value uniqueness over convenience.
What does this mean for web developers? Be prepared to work with more and more designers, and clients who want things to be innovative and unique to them. This includes fonts – custom fonts are also more and more popular. Now, those won’t be web-safe, which can provide a challenge for a developer, but it also provides the opportunity to work with something unique, and to create something that hasn’t been ‘done’ before.
Don’t shy away from unique content and special fonts…just make sure you have a fall-back!
There’s a good chance you are using them already, but if you are still using PNGs and JPGs, it’s time to stop. SVGs or Scalable Vector Graphics don’t pixelate at different sizes, they, as the name implies, scale up and down as needed.
Given the strong trend towards responsiveness, and mobile-first, it’s no wonder that these are gaining ever more fans. Platforms like WordPress and Joomla have already added (or are offering) support for SVGs, and many other providers, designers and developers swear by them now. With good reason. They all but eliminate quality loss at different sizes. Their only drawback right now is that working with them can take a little while to get used to, and that not everything is available in this format yet.
But don’t let that stop you from incorporating them in your next project. The difference is amazing. You’ll never look at PNGs the same again!