Web Development Predictions for 2017

Tim Hooper – equimedia

Less Intrusive Pop-ups

Intrusive popups that appear when you first load a page provide a poor user experience and can cause real issues on mobiles & tablets, with the device sometime unable to allow the user to close them and see the actual content.

Google is now cracking down on these, by introducing a new ranking signal that will take a dim view of websites that use these techniques.

Expect to see a dramatic decrease in the number Newsletter sign-up popups, and a big reduction in the size that popups occupy on the screen.
Native Mobile apps being replaced with HTML

There are increasingly less reasons to choose a mobile app over a webpage, even for highly functional purposes. HTML is now able to do many things that traditionally only an app downloaded in an app store could do. There are now standard APIs in mobile web browsers for accessing camera, speakers, vibration, battery and much more (with user’s permission).

Alongside functionality, HTML apps can be cheaper, and your product is much more likely to be discovered via Google than in a closed app store. Analytics is also easier to manage with a traditional website.

This means that many apps that would have been created as a native app are now being created as web-hosted HTML, and many existing apps are also being replaced with this technology.
Semantic Web

The Semantic Web is all about making the information on the web less ambiguous for machines & AI to understand.

By classifying knowledge into a data schema, rather than attempting to understand subjective human language, a machine can provide a much more accurate answer to a query.

This has been a long term project which is starting to yield mainstream results with devices like this year’s Amazon Echo & Google Home. Other maturing examples of this technology in action include Facebook Search, SIRI and Google’s knowledge graph.

From a practical viewpoint, website owners need to ensure that their website is machine readable by adding schema and open graph tags to their website if their content is appropriate. They also need to ensure their content is in the relevant databases where needed, a basic example being having accurate map listing for location searches.
More JS powered single page experiences

Javascript frameworks such as Angular , Ember & handlebars are now well established among web developers and are helping push a new type of web experience driven primarily by Javascript. The advantages are much faster load times and a better overall experience.

The practical reality of this is that highly functional parts of websites (such as shopping funnels, social experiences, customer areas) are increasingly being built as single page web applications – appearing much more like an iPad app than a traditional multi-page website.

7 Reasons You Should Redesign Your Small Business Website in WordPress

Dan Scalco
Founder and director of growth at Digitalux

June 15, 2016

Your website serves as the digital storefront for your business. If it doesn’t look appealing, load quickly or even have a mobile version, customers are going to keep walking. Many small business owners rely on their website to bring in a steady stream of leads and educate potential customers on what they offer.

However, when it comes to designing and developing a website, most of those same small business owners think they can’t have all the bells and whistles that larger businesses have. But that’s not true. Why? Meet WordPress.

WordPress is a free platform that powers the back end of your website. It’s commonly referred to as a “content management system” because of its ability to let you easily create and organize all of the pages and media you upload to your site.

1. You’ll be able to start using your website as a blog.

If you’re using a separate website to host your blog or, worse, have no blog at all (at least yet), switching your site over to WordPress will quickly solve that problem. Not only is the software incredibly easy to operate (adding new pages/posts literally takes seconds), but it’s the perfect platform for blogging about your small business.

Simply set up a page on your site dedicated to your blog (just call it “blog” or some catchy name that plays off your brand). Then you can start adding posts to that page. A blog is your easiest and most effective way to continuously add new content to your site and keep customers up-to-date with your business.

2. WordPress constantly updates itself for safety and security.

Instant updates mean you can be confident your website’s security is always up to date and aligned with the best, most current policies. While some other content management systems might require you to manually check for updates or may be slack on performing maintenance, WordPress does the work for you.

You can sleep soundly knowing that your site will automatically update, and knowing, too, that WordPress will keep working to better its system and make things more secure for users and visitors.

3. WordPress is open source.

“Open source” simply means that developers are able to contribute to WordPress’ software in the form of plugins, themes and updates. How does that benefit you? The system is constantly improving and getting better, and a new addition doesn’t cost you a cent. You can reap all the benefits of these improvements without paying for them.

4. WordPress is SEO friendly.

SEO, or search engine optimization, refers to the idea of making your website more searchable by engines like Google and Yahoo. While mastering SEO can take some investment of time WordPress offers ways for business owners to optimize their site in the easiest ways possible. Check out the free Yoast SEO plugin, which shows you step-by-step how your content ranks and where there’s room to improve.

5. WordPress is no newbie.

This CMS is swimming in familiar water. It’s been around for more than ten years so it’s safe to say it’s a sure thing. While WordPress (like any CMS) isn’t perfect, it’s pretty much problem-free. Over the years, its engineers have had time to work out those little kinks and improve, aging the system into a timeless CMS that all levels of web developers have come to love.

6. Coding for WordPress is standard for any web developer.

A lot of small business owners hire a web developer who then builds a complicated website that no one else can manage. That’s all well and good if you never need to change your website again — but that’s rare.

One of the reasons WordPress is so great is that it’s become such a popular choice any web developer knows how to code for it. Whenever a problem pops up that you can’t fix, or you decide to redesign your website’s look, any developer will be able to get the job done.

7. Having a WordPress website puts you in good company.

Yes, WordPress is “every guy’s CMS.” That being said, its capabilities extend far beyond the basic ones; and some of the biggest companies in the world use WordPress to power their sites. How big is “big”? The New York Times, Mashable, TechCrunch, and Inc. (to name a few).

WordPress is great for small businesses because it has everything you need to create a visually pleasing, fully functional, scalable website, and it also offers endless possibilities if your business or budget grows down the road.

Whether you’re just starting out as an entrepreneur or your small business is growing like a weed, you want a website that grows as you do. WordPress gives you that option.

10 Questions to Ask When Hiring a Webmaster

Kim Lachance Shandrow
Kim Lachance Shandrow is the former West Coast editor at Entrepreneur.com.

Webmasters for small businesses often do it all, from designing the website to search engine optimization (SEO) to daily maintenance. So, you need an adept, creative multitasker whom you can trust with the keys to your website — the online gateway to your brand.

How can you find someone who’s up to that tall task? Here are 10 important questions to ask potential webmasters to try to ensure you’re hiring the right one:

1. Where can I find current and past examples of your work? Experienced candidates should readily share links to examples of their work that clearly demonstrate their capabilities, says Jason Hong, associate professor at Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Computer Science and chief technical officer of Wombat Security Technologies, a Pittsburgh-based cyber security training company. “Carefully examining their portfolio and work samples can help you assess their overall style and skills,” he says. Their work samples also can be a jumping off point to discuss their more technical skills, including HTML5, UNIX, JavaScript and database management.

2. May I have a list of your current and past clients? Candidates should readily provide contact information for existing and past clients, says Chris Turzo, managing director of Goodwyn, Powell & Turzo, an executive recruiting firm that specializes in IT and clean technology. “Directly speaking with people a candidate has worked for is an essential step in the hiring process because it helps you establish how reliable and results-driven” he or she is. Many contract webmasters work independently on their own time schedules, he adds, so ask if they work well without a lot of structure and still deliver desired results on time.

3. What’s your favorite website and why do you like it? The answer can reveal a lot about a webmaster’s sense of branding, design, user interaction and more, Turzo says.

4. Which publishing, design and content technologies would you use to build and maintain my website? Webmasters should be able to describe the major publishing, design and content scheduling tools, give the pros and cons of each, and explain which they would suggest for you based on your budget and scope of work. “For instance, if they incorporate a blog within your website, would they use WordPress or Drupal, or would they code one from scratch?” says Malcolm Ong, co-founder and chief technical officer at Skillshare, an online education community based in New York City, and a mentor at 500 Startups, a Mountain View, Calif. internet seed fund and startup accelerator. “If you’re not tech-savvy, you may not fully understand all of the technologies he or she proposes, but they should at least be able to present you with clear options that you can generally understand.”

5. How will you optimize my website for search engines? Lisa Lopuck, author of Web Design for Dummies (Wiley, 3rd edition, 2012), suggests asking candidates how knowledgeable they are about SEO tools and techniques. “Ask them to explain which strategies and methods they’ll use to boost your rankings in all of the major search engines,” she says. They should also be experienced with Google Analytics to track website traffic and user behavior statistics and gauge the effectiveness of their SEO campaigns.

6. What kind of special features can you integrate into my site? A static website simply won’t do. Customers have come to expect extras features like video, social media feeds and banner ads. Be sure the candidate has the skills and resources to provide them. Can they easily add a contact form, blog, Flash animation, and Facebook and Twitter feeds to your site? If so, what is the expected delivery time for each special feature?

7. What is your approach to security issues and other potential website problems? It’s essential to know how your webmaster would respond should your site crash or get hacked — and how quickly. Find out how often they would back up the site and all of its content and how they would protect your site against phishing, data theft and malicious file execution.

Other security-related questions: If your website will require users to log in, how will the personal data be verified and protected? If the webmaster creates a shopping cart for you, how will your customers be protected against identity and credit card information theft?

8. How well versed are you in copyright issues? It’s critical for webmasters to be up-to-date on web-related copyright concerns. They will likely be charged with copyrighting all of the text, images and other media on your website. Asking them where they’ll obtain the photos and graphics they’ll use on your site could help you avert potential legal woes. For example, will they use free Creative Commons attribution licensed images or paid commercial stock photo licensed images?

9. Who will own the website? You might think that you would automatically own a site you paid someone to design for you. But if the designer is an independent contractor and not a company employee, you won’t own the site without a “work made for hire” or a “copyright assignment” agreement specifically stating that you own the complete design and all the content.

10. What are your fees and payment terms? It’s crucial to establish from the outset all of the fees for designing, publishing and maintaining your website. You’ll also want to know if the webmaster prefers to be paid by the hour or on a monthly retainer. If the webmaster is designing a new site for you, find out whether you’ll have to pay for hosting and domain name registration charges.

Other important payment questions: Are there overtime charges for working after regular business hours and on weekends or holidays? How often are invoice payments due — every 30, 60 or 90 days? And is there an interest fee for late payments?