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Web development Predictions for 2016

Written by Tim | 09-Dec-2015 13:59:00

Web build and design ideas tend to evolve relatively slowly since web development takes a lot of time and resource. New concepts tend to filter across web teams gradually developing from alpha experiments into common practice. We’ve listed a few concepts and device trends below that we think will gain some traction in 2016.

Dynamic Serving – going beyond responsive

It’s now been quite a few years since “responsive” sites really took hold. The term has become so popular that it’s synonymous with “mobile friendly”, however many businesses don’t realise there are alternatives.

We are getting to the point where the early adopters of responsive technology have websites that are now several years old and they’re starting to think about refreshing their sites again. Along the way these businesses have gained firsthand experience about what the reality of maintaining a responsive site is, and what the limitations are.

If you took a close look at websites run by the leaders of web technology (ebay, Amazon, Google, MSN) you would notice that these sites do not scale, but show very different websites depending on which device you use - all on the same domain. This is known as
dynamic serving, a technique that is highly technical and resource heavy to develop. However for owners of highly functional websites dynamic serving could also be considered as a far more appropriate solution than responsive.

All new technology filters down, so as with many things pioneered by the major powers such as Google and Amazon, we predict that smaller organisations will start investing in websites that change in a more fundamental nature across each device beyond just scaling and re-arranging elements, ultimately delivering better conversion.

Parallax / Infinite Scrolling

For better or worse, this trend marches on and businesses will continue in 2016 to revamp their sites with this technique. Although it’s great for perusing large volumes or repetitive content such as social posts or photos, we’re not sure it’s the best option for sites where users are looking for quick access to information or functionality, particularly for non-mobile devices. It’s easy for designers to get
carried away with parallax techniques in particular, often resulting in quite a disorientating experience.

AdBlock Detections

Across the spectrum of the internet site owners are losing money due to Adblocking. UK ad blocking
grew by 82% to reach 12 million active users in 12 months up to June 2015, affecting not just all the big media publishers but crucially all the smaller sites with great content that depend on advertising revenues to stay online. 

Therefore in 2016 websites that run ads will be doing everything they can to reduce the impact of adblocking.

We predict that ad-blocking detection alerts will become as common as the cookie bar on small content sites and the arms race between the larger publishers and ad blocking tech will continue to escalate (e.g the “
anti-Anti-adblock” plugins). Expect a wide variety of techniques to emerge to defeat the blocking, such as “pay-wall” style lock-outs on major publishers sites as they refuse to serve content to users who block ads, and sneaky code techniques that attempt to bypass the software.

Audience screen resolutions will get both smaller and larger simultaneously

Anyone who has ever worked on a 30” monitor will testify to the productivity gain and experience improvement you get in comparison to working on a 24” screen. Prices are dropping so fast on these displays that both home users and employees at work are enjoying ever larger screens, since it’s now difficult for an IT department to buy monitors smaller than 24’ HD.

Quad HD (2560x1440) monitors are now common costing less than £200, and large 4K (4096 x 2160!) monitors can be had for £400 now. This is being partially driven by the explosion of 4K TV, and for desktop computer monitors it seems they are only going to get bigger.

The new
iPad pro will have more resolution than a 15 inch retina iPad (though we’re not certain what the viewport will be yet). Many consumers will be excited about finally having an iOS experience on a decent bit of screen real-estate. Then of course at the other end of the scale we’ve got the Apple watch, with a tiny 312 x 390 to play with (albeit with no viable browser yet).

So an interesting aspect of device trends for 2016 is that audience screen resolutions will get both smaller and larger simultaneously.  

A common trap businesses have, and will increasing fall into, is attempting a “mobile first” approach but then forgetting all the other devices in the ecosystem. This results in a site that looks great on mobiles/mini-tablets but provides a poor experience on HD viewports and beyond. 

Ultimately sites need to present the best experience on all devices, and if Microsoft Windows upgrades have taught us anything, it’s that users do not want a tablet-style experience on their larger devices.