As the web and mobile environments continue to evolve, we are continuously seeing some unique trends and innovative ideas coming up every year. And as we step in to 2014, we are all anticipating more ideas, trends, and innovations to constantly emerge, so that we can find better ways to connect with our customers and deliver delightful user experiences to all.
To help you keep pace with the latest in web and mobility, here are some key trends in mobility and web development to watch for in 2014.
1. Mobile-Cloud convergence
According to IEEE Computer Society, mobile cloud is one of the Top Technology Trends for 2014. Though mobile devices are constrained by their limited memory, processing power, and battery life, when combined with cloud computing, data processing and storage takes place outside of the mobile device.
Storage is a major impediment for mobile devices, where smartphones and tablets provide local storage ranging from 8GB to 128GB. The cloud, on the other hand has virtually limitless storage in gigabytes or even terabytes, whether you use Box, or Dropbox, or SkyDrive, or Google Drive.
This convergence of mobile and cloud will result in better synchronization of data, improved reliability and scalability, increased ease of integration, anytime-anywhere access to business applications and collaborative services, rich user experiences, and a barrage of new services.
2. HTML5 will be the preferred app platform
Now companies should aim to build targeted mobile apps that can “snap together” to form larger applications. It’s a high probability that there won’t be one single tool that works on all mobile platforms.
“The next evolution in user experience will be to leverage intent, inferred from emotion and actions, to motivate changes in end-user behaviour,” Gartner says.
With the increasing prevalence of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), this trend will be of utmost value to today’s businesses.
3. Increased focus on enterprise mobile apps security
Mobile app security will also be among the top priority items for 2014, because of the increasing adoption of BYOD. Most companies are already seeing the potential of this trend.
In North America, an estimated 75 percent of the workforce already is mobile. A recent IDC study shows that 77 percent of U.S. and European businesses supply smartphones to their employees, and 49 percent supply tablets to their workforce.
The rise in targeted enterprise mobile apps will multiply the existing custom enterprise-app stores. There’s no doubt that more and more enterprise users will access in-house apps to access, manage, and modify corporate data. Enterprise-app store is basically a secure environment for employees to download the software and mobile apps they need for day-to-day operations.
With critical business and consumer data at stake, companies will face the challenge of keeping their app-environment highly secure. As a result, the concept of enterprise-app store will be used to combat malware, unsecured networks, and unauthorized data access.
4. Mobile device management
By 2018, the size of the mobile workforce will double or triple. Employees are increasingly adopting mobile devices to perform their day-to-day tasks, which is putting the critical corporate data at risk.
Therefore, mobile device management (MDM) is one solution companies need to adopt to secure, monitor, manage and support mobile/wireless devices deployed across the organization. Although companies are already aligning MDM with their mobility strategies, it needs to be implemented more aggressively in 2014.
Among other things, MDM provides a management and administrative layer to the enterprise to provide a secure environment for using corporate data and resources.
5. Long scrolling & Parallax scrolling
With the proliferation of mobile devices, small screen users have become accustomed to long scrolls to read all the content on a page, like on Facebook and Twitter. This change in the scrolling behaviour has minimized the need to keep all content “above the fold” on websites.
Therefore, we are seeing a changing trend in website layouts, wherein long scroll websites are increasingly being used to display more content on a single web page, and users are fine with it. Still, if you plan to go for long scrolls on your web pages, make sure to design those pages thoughtfully, with less clutter, so that the users are driven to scroll deeper.
To be more specific, users now feel more comfortable scrolling through a long page rather than clicking and navigating into different web pages, which means we might see more single-page websites in 2014.
Parallax scrolling has also been used by a large number of websites wherein the 2D graphics are given an illusion of depth. This technique is more relevant to the websites that deliver a unique storytelling experience to the users.
Example of Parallax Scrolling: WAAAC and ExpressSolicitors
6. Flat User Interface (UI)
Flat UI, or flat user-interface is another emerging trend in web design which focuses on content and uses a minimalistic design approach.
Mainly, flat UI has been around for quite a while now, but its prominence will increase further in 2014 as more and more websites aim for faster load times by keeping fewer images and simple design elements. This is especially relevant for mobile devices that usually have slow and unreliable internet connection. In addition, faster loading sites will be beneficial for mobile users who don’t prefer to wait more than 3-5 seconds for a website to load.
Apple’s new mobile operating system, iOS 7, Google’s Gmail, Facebook, and Windows 8 are all examples of interfaces that use flat UI.
7. Content-first approach
With the recently updated Google algorithm called Penguin, more and more organizations are focusing on “content-first” approach which puts emphasis on content rather than design.
Google algorithms like Penguin tend to put emphasis on quality content, forcing web designers to change the traditional design approach where they used to put design first. However, content has become the focal point and the single most important factor for higher online visibility.
Because of the increasing focus on content, many websites have been developed and designed with a flat UI, incorporating simple designs and eye-catching typography to keep users engaged with the content.
It’s needless to say that how you present your content on your websites will play a vital role in 2014.
8. Adaptive and Responsive Web Design
Visits from mobile devices now account for 28 percent of total website traffic in Q3 2013, up by 67 percent since Q3 2012, according to the Walker Sands Quarterly Mobile Traffic Report. This trend has been continuously going up for last few years and will keep on increasing in 2014 as well.
Few years back, creating mobile websites was the answer to catch-up with the mobile trend, but recently, responsive web design has provided a better and cost-efficient way to create websites that adapt to various screen resolutions or screen sizes. It means, you basically create one website, which will be displayed differently on a variety of devices.
The year 2014 will see a more evolved and growing trend of responsive web designs across all platforms, as it doesn’t require creating different versions of a website for different screen sizes, thus saving time and resources.
The trends I’ve discussed above may not be relevant for all, but these are the key trends that will be followed more in the coming year. Also, these trends don’t imply that you must follow them to get results from your mobility and web development initiatives.
A strategic thinking and a bit of creativity can bring desired results for your mobility and web strategies.