As part of our series on predictions and things to look out for in 2014 we've pulled together our views on changes and advances in web development.
Fully responsive brochureware websites will continue to become more common in 2014. There is a clear benefit of brochureware pages that dynamically change layout based on the size of the browser. Hence, content rich/magazine/blog style websites will continue to develop in this direction. However, it will be interesting to see how many larger brands invest in responsive solutions for more functional website journeys.
There are very few retail or financial services sites in the UK that have fully responsive sales funnels. However, we must remember that there are alternatives to building websites responsively and each option needs to be evaluated carefully. asos.com has a very successful mobile optimised website that is NOT responsive - instead it uses a technology platform to serve a different user experience dependent on the device used - this is a much better solution for them. Responsive websites will become more common in 2014, but so will other mobile optimised solutions.
We predict a trend of web designers going “back to basics”. Some sites tested the boundaries with complex parallax scrolling, dynamic sites and responsive builds in 2013 (take a look at the way you navigate where-you-are.com). Maybe 2014 will be the year that businesses realise that the exciting, cutting edge solution doesn’t always mean increased ROI.
Although some web developers are continuing to produce incredible web experiences with Flash (see this Disney microsite) there is no doubt that fewer websites are using the Adobe technology. According to W3Techs the use of Flash has fallen to 15% of all websites. The HTTP Archive suggests that sites using Flash has almost halved over the last 3 years. The impact that iOS devices have had on this trend cannot be under-estimated.
It is a trend that will continue into 2014 because video is becoming cheaper to produce, to edit, to publish, to share etc. More and more websites are using video to deliver user experiences that engage and convert visitors; and visitors are now typically expecting to see video content. With the continued growth of Video platforms (YouTube, Vimeo etc.) the challenge is probably not whether you should be creating video for your site, but how you make it stand out from the crowd.
The share of “real people” visiting websites compared to “robots” is declining. This is largely down to the growth of the semantic web and as more solutions emerge where you don’t actually need to visit a website to get the information you need (e.g. Search Google for the phone number of the nearest pub and you’ll probably get the result from Google, not the pub’s website). The expansion of wearable technology and the internet of things will also fuel this. Remember, websites are purely a thin layer on the surface of the web that we currently tend to interact with – the real developments and future possibilities are with the data and information that sits beneath the surface! This is the reason Google is heading in this direction – a few days ago they added the Smart technology company “Nest” to their portfolio.
2014 looks like a year to be using the latest technology, to build simple websites, while keeping an eye on what is happening beneath the surface……