If you’ve been paying any attention to the web development world in the past few years, you’re likely already familiar with the one thing that’s remained constant: change.
Every new year brings new innovations, especially given how mobile web browsing continues to climb in popularity. More websites are optimizing for mobile use through responsive design, and developers are even launching apps that allow for coding on tablets and, in certain situations, even smartphones. Talk about mobility.
But those advancements, though groundbreaking, are now technically old news. So, that begs the question: What can we look forward to in 2014? If we look at past trends as indicators of a possible future, this year is already shaping up to be one ripe with new features both for design and development. For example, keep a lookout for...
1. Long-Scrolling Websites
This one harkens back to the early days of user-made sites, when GeoCities seemed to rule the web. Before site designers fully figured out that a lengthy post could be parceled out over separate pages in order to score more ad space, readers could just keep scrolling for what seemed an eternity. Now, with mobile technologies becoming absolutely ubiquitous, there’s a move back toward long-scrolling sites, in order to accommodate those users viewing the pages on their smartphones. Longer pages means faster loading times for on-the-go readers.
2. Personalized Content
It’s become the norm for a website to ask any visitor to sign up for its mailing list, through some kind of popup or floating call-to-action. But if you follow that site’s content every day and already receive its email updates, those CTAs become pesky and annoying very quickly. That’s why more websites are providing personalized, dynamic content to their users in 2014. In other words, replacing a newsletter signup CTA with some other kind of promotion -- thereby making it entirely specific to your personal user experience.
3. Experimental Aesthetics
Face it: Reading from your smartphone simply isn’t as pleasant as from your Mac or PC. You can deny it all you want, but your squinting eyes tell the whole truth. Web designers know this, and they’ve already begun using plenty of experimental options to help us get our eyesight back. You might have noticed the flat design of the apps on the new iOS7 and Windows 8 interfaces, but the party isn’t stopping there. Expect developers and designs to try out new fonts to help improve readability both on mobile devices and regular desktop sites.
4. Engaging Ideas
In the past, plenty of websites relied on keyword-ridden SEO content in order to cultivate a larger web presence. Today, users can spot a spammy, robotic SEO blog post a mile away. In 2014, they demand engaging ideas and content that challenges them. It’s not that users are relying on search engines less -- in fact, 93% of the time, search engines are a user’s first activity upon beginning an internet session. But more sites are dropping their keyword-rich content in favor of well-researched, well-developed and, most importantly, well-designed articles that stimulate users as well as inform them. Expect simple color schemes and easy navigation to accompany that content.
5. Social Media-Influenced Images
You can tell a lot about a company based on what kind of photos it’s using on its website. If you see a series of stock photo-esque snapshots of smiling people, you know you’re likely looking at a site that’s still behind the times. If you see something that looks like an Instagram filter, however, you just might onto something good. More sites are taking a cue from social media’s simple, stylized appearance and opting for the same look on their sites (both desktop and mobile) in order to entice a younger, more web-savvy generation of users.
Remember, even the smallest design or development improvement in 2013 is bound to be expanded upon in 2014. Now that you know what to expect, keep your eyes open and you just might start seeing innovations everywhere you look.