What will tomorrow’s web be like?

I see four trends converging, and I want to make a prediction about how they’ll collide to provide a type of experience that we’ll have on the web of tomorrow.  Those four trends are:

  1. Immersive
  2. Mobile
  3. Video
  4. Immediacy

Immersive

Many developers are striving to provide a more immersive experience.  Whether it’s better

use of space within web sites and web apps, fullscreen options on everything from video players to desktop applications, it seems everyone is looking to add a fullscreen button to their users’ experience.  Users have become intuitively conditioned to look for indicators of this immersive-style experience.  How to do I know?  W

hen I’m using a computer, tablet or mobile device with my children, they constantly scan for the fullscreen button, and ask (beg) me to use it.  I can hear their little voices chanting, “Fullscreen, fullscreen!” in a half-cute, half-annoying chorus of kid-tech-love.

As a matter of fact, I’m composing this blog post in WordPress’s Fullscreen, distraction-free writing experience.

Mobile

We’ve been hearing for years that someday more people will be accessing the web via mobile phones.  Well, someday has arrived.  According to a Pew Internet and American Life Project study from two years ago, 28% of Americans access the web primarily from their mobile phones.  And 68% of American smartphone users access the web via their smartphones every day.  And this is in the US, where broadband mobile penetration is growing slower than in Africa and Asia.

Video

Cisco estimated in 2011 that the sum of all video content will make up 86% of internet traffic by the year 2016.  When I visit a web site to learn about something, my first instinct now it to look for a 2-minute intro or example video.  Video is increasingly a big deal.

Immediacy

When I talk about immediacy, what I’m really referring to is the low latency of internet-delivered content.  That means that people are figuring out how to deliver content is ways that don’t make you wait around, watching the content load.  Our attention spans are being conditioned to this kind of experience. Designers and developers will continue to push forward our expectations for a low-latency experience.

Where it’s all leading

So when you smash these trends together, what do you get?  The potential for some very interesting stuff.  I think we’re going to see immersive content that blends video with vector-based artwork that we’ll experience on mobile devices (tablets, phablets, Google glass, etc.).  Essentially, we’ll be able to watch little pieces of non-square video in cartoon-like worlds that load quickly on mobile devices in immersive viewing formats.

How will this happen?  That’s the interesting part.  I think it’ll be achieved using HTML5 (or its successor language).  Right now, HTML5 has canvas tags for displaying video content without using a browser plugin.  I predict that these tags will take on more and more attributes, and we’ll start to see blends of little pieces of video, along with vector-style artwork.  Vector is low-latency, and video is rich in experience.

This will happen in much the same way that javascript went from a language for adding simple interactivity to web sites (like a simple submit button) to a full-blown webapp-programming framework (that render products like Gmail).  I don’t think anyone expected the complexity, or the code libraries and other support tools, that we’ve seen emerge from javascript, which started as a more basic programming tool.

In the same way, HTML5 (and its offspring) will bring us some very interesting experiences in the future.  Ever wanted to live in a cartoon?  You may get that chance in the future.

Yet another new web site

Ok, Shinnfans, I’m going to let you in on a secret here. A little bit of beta action for you early adopters.  I’m working on the next version of Shinnphoto.com, and you can find it (for now) at www.shinnphoto.com/new.  It’s not finished yet, so please don’t hate me if the site fails to load, spins off a large hadron collider, has ugly colors, eats your firstborn, ends the world, etc.  You’re welcome to watch in fascination (or horror) as the thing evolves, leave comments and hatemail, or completely disregard this.  I won’t blame you for any of the aforementioned actions (or for the Kennedy assasination).

Enjoy,

Andrew