31st December 2012
What a year 2012 has been! Especially in the web space. I feel privileged to be working in the web space at this time. We’re sitting on the cusp of the web coming out of its teenage years and becoming an adult.
HTML5 & CSS3 have proven they have what it takes to create and manipulate your on screen elements in anyway you wish. WebGL is coming through to allow high speed 3D rendering in the browser. Flash is well and truly dead as I predicted back in 2010 much to the dislike of many flash developers. The great Flash developers have started to move to HTML5 technologies, I’m sure many Flash developers will stick with the Flash software and export out as HTML5 though.
2012 saw 2 major trends, responsive design and parallax scrolling.
Let’s talk about responsive design first. This is we’re there is practically 1 website that if you resize the browser (or view on a mobile) the website will adjust itself to work within that size. To me this has always been a bit of a gimmick. My issue with it is realistically, on my desktop I’m not going to resize my browser to the size of a mobile. Why would I do that? On my mobile I don’t have a choice and it’s always the one size, same with my iPad. Sure, make your website respond to the varying desktop sizes, as developers we’ve been doing this for many years anyway. But the whole responsive for all 3 platforms doesn’t seem sensible in my eyes. I’m a firm believer in doing 1 site for desktop which can be adjusted for iPad, then a fresh site for mobile. The advantage of this is for the mobile version I’m purely loading in what I need for mobile, enhancing it for the touch interface (with swiping, 1 touch calling, linking to maps etc). Seems more sensible to me. Feel free to tell me I’m an idiot, but I do have my reasons for my belief.
Parallax scrolling was hugely popular this year. What it is, is when you scroll down the page elements respond to the scroll and move accordingly. They are generally single page designs. I really liked these sites at the start of this year, there was a Nike site which I saw first which was amazing. So many followed after this, even I myself tried my hand at it. The end result is the novelty wore off and now good parallax sites don’t do it for me anymore. The reason parallax has been so popular is simple. It’s one of the few ways you can easily make cool cross-browser experience with out locking out ancient browsers like IE7.
Where to in 2013
I’m no fortune teller, but I have been right with many of my predictions I’ve made on this blog. For the first time ever I’m going to suggest some trends that could be popular in 2013. Obviously don’t sue me if they don’t become trends.
The first trend has already started in late 2012, it’s HTML5 video backgrounds. Flash video has always been annoying. It’s really time consuming to work with and the varying browser handled content you put over the top consistently. HTML5 video has solved this, it takes 2 seconds to integrate and can fallback nicely to images if you need it to. Design wise I’m noticing a lot of thin white fonts overplayed over videos. It looks truly amazing. See Spotify.
Another trend I believe we’re going to see is partial parallax scrolling. Many sites again are already doing this however I see it only getting more popular in 2013. This is basically the same as parallax scrolling, the different being it will generally be on a multipage site with one or two elements on a page responding to your scrolling. See Sevenly.
Mobile & tablet, more than just swiping. iOS and Android can respond to your devices accelerometer and gyroscope. No-one has really done much with this yet, however I see 2013 as the year where this starts to be used more and you will be able to move your device in fresh ways to view content on mobile and tablet sites. Very exciting!
This last prediction is a wild one and I may be ahead of my time, however I believe late 2013 we’re going to be seeing some really cool work with how you navigate sites. Developers and designers are about to exhaust all the standard scroll options which means they’ll be searching for new ways to allow you to navigate the site. Of course the problem with this is every site will have new styles of navigation and could get confusing for users. On the other hand it will give more variety in what sites are doing.
Google Chrome has been the greatest thing to happen to the web since Safari. Chrome forced other browsers to really step up and start supporting more HTML5 and CSS3 features. Chrome now supports more of these new technologies better than Safari does. Firefox is supporting more (or at least trying to, it’s still substantially slower than it’s WebKit counterparts). Microsoft finally have joined the race for best browser with IE10, I’m yet to use it though. This means more browser are supporting more features which means us developers can do more exciting things for more people to see. Get excited! 2013 is going to be the biggest year for the Internet since it’s inception.