Trend prediction is always difficult: seeing into the future of web development is no different. If you go back through digital trend forecasts of the past decade and you find many ‘dead-certain’ predictions that didn’t pan out:
Facebook would collapse after termite activity by scores of micro social media platforms
Apple TV would crush all in its path
Google, Bing and … Wolfram Alpha would smash into each other in some sort of search titanomachia
Printing would become obsolete and no new books, newspapers or paper-based advertising collateral would be required.
Some of those might still come true, others are cringe-inducing. Look at widespread mobile internet. It was forecast many times over many years, and then it happened. Looking back, it seems so sudden now.
With it, mobile internet brought many second-order changes in web development best-practice. Take responsive web design. When the web was desk-bound and 17 inches was considered a big monitor, web development and design companies didn’t really push responsivity because it didn’t really matter. Now people regularly use websites and services on screens ranging from the 1.5-inches on a smartwatch to the 110-inches of a pricey TV. Just before it started to matter the industry saw this need coming and did something about it.
If you’re a business owner wanting to improve your web presence or starting a whole new venture and looking for platforms that’ll stand the test of time, you’ll want to know the direction things are going.
At Hunted Hive, here are a few things we see coming and when.
1. Artificial intelligence
No, not Skynet or The Matrix, we are simply talking about computers that respond to their environment in a proactive way. We are already seeing it in software applications that can observe and optimise particular loops in their own performance.
Google’s search and Apple’s Siri both use natural language processing to teach themselves how people use language in order to improve their accuracy. In gaming, developers are building in dynamic systems where the game learns the player’s techniques and changes itself to suit their behaviours. On the more prosaic matter of fraud detection on online commerce, just know there is usually no human case worker behind the warning emails you get.
Our prediction: AI will become an unremarkable part of everyday life in the early 2020s.
2. Internet of things
Like AI, the internet of things (IoT) is another trend in the future of web development that has been a slow-burner that is now increasing in temperature. What IoT is really about is bringing connectivity to the everyday objects around us to enable us to know more about them and therefore get more utility from them. The reason this can now happen in a big way is cloud connectivity.
You can already see IoT happening with exercise trackers. For example, the fitness trackers of navigation services giant Garmin can connect physical activity data to health optimisation platforms. Now, by also tracking biometrics, sleep cycles and nutrition, it can optimise how your body operates. It can even reveal food allergies by cross referencing meal times and heart rate.
Similarly, cloud-connected cars already report performance and maintenance diagnostics back to service centres. Soon cars will also connect to the other vehicles around them. Imagine a car that can hit a pothole and then automatically warn all the vehicles following to get their shock absorbers ready for the bump.
Our prediction: IoT is already entrenched in specialised applications, we think it will cross completely into the mainstream between 2025 and 2030.
3. The continuing rise of Python
The languages behind the software running all the cool new things already exist. In fact, they are already several software generations old. Python, which dates from 1991, is flexible, resilient and, crucially, a scalable high-level programming languages that can make it all happen.
Like the English language’s role in international business, Python is becoming the lingua franca of web development. Like English, it’s convenient, fast and adaptable.
Facebook, NASA, Google, Youtube all use Python extensively. Further, it is great for AI, machine learning, API integration and rapid development - all trends of themselves. If Java is the dying star in your local web development and design company, then across the board, Python’s is going interstellar. Check out our other post on 8 Reasons To Create Websites with Python for more resources on why it is growing quickly.
Our prediction: Python will be the number 1 web development language by 2020.
4. Websites that build themselves
In the early days of the web, every website was custom made through HTML coding by hand. Later, as products like Dreamweaver and WordPress came along, the knowledge barrier for entry lowered. That barrier is about to vanish. CMS engines like WordPress are evolving to automatically create sales websites from plaintext.
Soon, all a business will have to do is fill in an online form and a few design questions and the software will build everything else. And when we say everything else, we’re including ecommerce and even just-in-time manufacturing, supply and delivery chains. This is going to wipe out the proportion of the web development industry that works on the front-end side of a CMS.
The more technologically skilled of those developers will migrate back to more customised development work, the more design skilled developers will migrate into consulting and working via service platforms, not unlike how graphic designers now work with 99 Designs.
And, as always, a lowered bar for entry computes to a higher bar for best practice.
Our prediction: There are still a lot of businesspeople needing websites who simply do not have the technical expertise to make informed decisions. They will prop up the ‘website shops’ until the early 2030s.
5. Passwords and PINs fade into the past
The flaws in online identity regimes are well known. Users find passwords easy to forget and, via rules like ‘must be 8 characters and include a capital, two numbers and a punctuation mark’, difficult to even think of. It’s no surprise that, year on year, the number 1 most popular password is ‘password’.
As more and more of civic, educational, political and economic life is mediated online, inherently compromised security is unsustainable. Advanced biometrics for identity establishment and online transactions are the answer. We’re talking facial recognition, fingerprints and even the way you walk.
It is already happening with phones that can only be unlocked by thumbprint, but did you know the GPS and accelerometer data your phone tracks is just as unique? Yes, your phone can ‘feel’ when someone else is carrying it.
The economic ramifications of this are huge. In a world where your digital presence is unforgeable, your identity will be self-evident. When shopping online or offline you will not need to establish your identity or even get out your wallet/phone. Just grab and go, letting the system settle the bill. Identity theft online will become all but impossible. Shoplifting IRL will, bizarrely, become a form of fraud rather than theft.
Our prediction: Log-ins, cash, EFTPOS and paywave are legacy systems and not going away anytime soon, but they will be eclipsed by biometrics in the 2030s.
We’ll know in 20 years
Famous technological prognosticator Arthur C Clarke once wrote:
“If an elderly but distinguished scientist says that something is possible, he is almost certainly right; but if he says that it is impossible, he is very probably wrong.”- Arthur C Clarke
How will that hold for the future of web development? At the moment, our corporate strategy is betting our business on these trends. However, we’re not elderly, not scientists and we’re still working on the distinguished.
Whatever happens, Hunted Hive will remain agile and adaptable. The next 20 years are going to be amazing. We’ll be there regardless of whether we’re on the green or in the bunker about the 5 trends you’ve just read.
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