It's Not 1997 Anymore: A Look at How Web Development Was, Is and Will Be

The best movie in 1997...

The best movie in 1997...

Ah 1997, I remember it well. It was a time of using java applications to make snowflake gifs fall down your page, iframes to “layout” content and the well loved table based layouts. I’ve been coding for almost 13 years and in my time I’ve seen design and coding trends come and go. I was there when websites were mostly text based. I was there when they became mostly images based with sliced tables. I was there when they became flash based – and now I’m here when they are a more dynamic hybrid of technologies. The web is changing every day and in another 13 years will be completely different from today. What is so different about today from yesterdays coding? From tomorrows coding?

It’s not enough to just know code anymore

Nowadays, to correctly code a site, you have to know more than one language. You also need to understand how they interact with each other, even if you don’t know the actual language. I don’t know much PHP, but I know how and where it goes in my HTML and the limitation and benefits of what it can do for my pages.

Websites are no longer static

Demand for the once popular 5 page brochure site has almost disappeared. Sites are now dynamic:

  • Users are in control of content.
  • New hybrids of CSS and JS created libraries like jQuery that now make it possible to have both animation and SEO.
  • Websites now update themselves with use of rss feed integration being used for more than blog updates (my sites uses 4 feeds not related to my blog), Twitter YouTube and other social media integration.
  • With the use as wordpress as a CMS, you can have completely dynamic portfolios, image galleries and other functions that update themselves

The web is no longer only for the computer

With the affordability and popularity of full touchscreen phones and netbooks, the web is no longer just for the computer. Developers now must keep in mind that their websites are likely to be viewed elsewhere, and this has changed coding patterns to match. The implementation of either a separate style for mobile devices, or a design that compliments both must now be thought of.

The web is a fluid community

Websites used to be one sided. I put info on a site, you looked at it and left. Then along came “guest books” which were a pretext to blog comments. Then we had the beginnings of social media, forums, text based RPGs and chat rooms. Now we have full graphic real time online games, Twitter, facebook and blogs.

Design is no longer limited by technology

You can now effectively change the type of technology you’re using to accomplish what you want to do. PHP isn’t dynamic enough? Try ASP or Javascript, jQuery or Ruby.

Where will we be in 13 years?

  • The recent trend is to make technology mobile. I predict that it will start making it back into the home: affordable large wall sized screens that manage your favorite TV shows, movies, internet surfing and even home security without boxes or additional wiring.
  • More jobs will be done over the web.
  • The web will incorporate more senses, mainly touch and voice control.
  • The web will be more integrated then ever, allowing you to keep up to date with news, contacts, clients and friends in a single place.
  • Code will become more design oriented-with reliance on basic images and Photoshop less and more reliance in larger and higher quality photography.
  • With faster Internet and larger computer screens becoming more popular, I forsee another sift in web technologies. I bet well now see some kind of interactive develoment, where users can help control the sites and the web is more real time based than before.