3 Big Predictions for Web Design in 2010

3 predictions for web design and development 2010

The last decade has brought in a complete evolution in web design and user experience. From proliferation in browser usage to the wide adoption of standards-based web development and code.

  • Location Based Services With the growth of smart phones and internet enabled feature-phones, location based services will explode this year. The massive growth will result from the growing popularity of social media applications, but more so from service-oriented applications. What smart phones and location-aware phones offer users are safe ways to identify themselves and their locations and to quickly locate people or services convenient to their position without using a text entry interface. Businesses, services and other providers can use this information to make relevant communications in real-time response.From the perspective of a marketer, a location-driven application or service can be used to inform customers to potential offers or relevant information about who they are or how easily they can be reached. This can range from locating a pharmacy in the area that stocks a special prescription or a discount latte for the caffeine-addict in your circle of friends.Comfort with these new services will come from social media adoption of location services. There are already some fantastic applications and tools in the space: FourSquare and Gowalla are the most popular. These companies encourage users to “check-in” and offer status rewards for frequent visits and also exploring new areas. Both of these services (and their like), post status updates to larger social networks like Facebook and Twitter. The more places you go, the higher your ranking in the network goes. You can also follow your friends and vice-verse. This allows you to find friends around you and meet-up.For web designers, location services create a huge opportunity for customized interfaces that are relevant to a user’s location and activity. It can also allow users to tailor an interface to their needs and tasks. By identifying a user in a cold region, you can present a cold-weather theme or contextual advertising for snow-boots or a coat. The possibilities are endless and extend the options for a personalized experience beyond what cookies and referring URL data can provide. Location services can extend beyond the phone or gps device with support in the new HTML 5 spec for location or “geolocation” services.
  • HTML 5 The end of 2009 brought with it a lot of buzz about HTML 5, a new standard in web development architecture. It’s not some terribly new animal in regards to implementation. It does offer some new exciting features and capabilities (including several ways to present video and audio within the HTML structure without use of a browser plug-in like flash) and solves some presentation issues that had been left behind by the previously vague “transition” standards. It’s most powerful capability is how it allows offline capabilities for developers. Essentially, there is a data-set that can be stored locally in the browser to preserve anything from e-mails and documents to button states. Given the widespread adoption of mobile devices and the use of laptops, this solves a lot of practical problems that developer have had in preserving sessions and states from websites to full cloud-based applications.HTML also gives designers and developers some standard structural elements to work with <header>, <nav> and <footer> to name a few. Most developers and designers who employ best practices already make use of this common nomenclature, but spec support for these objects make ubiquitous support across platforms and devices moving forward easy*. Driving progress are some much needed API features like geolocation, canvas drawing and improved forms. These features will enable location-based features (as noted above), the ability to render complex illustrations, charts and motion graphics without flash or javascript and help facilitate a better and more functional user experience respectively.I don’t expect to see a wide-spread adoption of HTML 5 in the first part of this year. I do expect to see developers and designers using this technology on their own sites and those that are leveraging the HTML 5 specs to offer an enhanced user experience and cutting edge capabilities. I hope to have my own website converted to meet the new spec shortly and begin to use it for consumer-facing client sites.
  • IE6 Will Die (Standards based browser will prevail) Internet Explorer 6 was originally developed in 2001. It was a decent browser when it was new. It had several short-comings: not complete support for CSS or DOM, but it was serviceable for its day. In the past 9 years, the web has changed completely and recognizing this, Microsoft has introduced several offerings that recognize the needs of modern users. IE 6 has held strong. IE 6 is still the dominant browser for enterprise. As someone who still designs and develops interfaces for people working for large institutions and businesses, this has been a persistent problem. 2010 Will be the year of change. The Microsoft sunsetting of Windows XP and the persistent security issues with IE 6 combined with the cost of supporting the increased expense of web application and site designers building support for this aging browser will require that companies invest in evolving their initiatives to a standards-based model.As someone who has worked with large clients, I realize that expecting organizations to invest what will be significant costs into redesigning and developing applications to work in browser other than IE 6 is idealistic, I also realize that there is opportunity. The opportunity is in creating an opportunity for organizations, big and small, to be platform agnostic. Rather than having a large group of employees work with a specific operating system and browser, employers who invest in a standards-based solution can offer a solution that will grow and be more extensible. In some cases, this can allow employees and customers to interface with their infrastructure at home or even on mobile devices. There are further advantages such as support for the more secure 64 bit versions of the windows products and the growing mac audience, but the argument of longevity and extensibility is strong enough to not look past the next 12 months to make an upgrade and say goodbye to IE 6.

I’m looking forward to 2010. Web design and development move very quickly and a year is a very long time. I would like to think of myself as a student of life and the opportunity to participate in the challenge that this industry presents is inspiring. I hope this year is as exciting as the last.