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Handicapping Web Trends in 2012

With so many unknowns and battlefronts raging; mobile market-share, native applications threatening open web, paywalls now blocking previously open available information — the world of web development is just as turbulent as the economic issues facing nations across the globe.

Impossible to predict what’s ahead, but there are a few trends that I’d place bets on — at least across-the-board bets just to cover myself. (For those who don’t gamble on the ponies — an ATB bet covers a horse for a Win-Place-Show).

Win — definitely a 1st place consideration — HTML5 and CSS3.

Place/Show – Mobile Display. There are simply just too many devices in the marketplace today, with too great a difference in what each can display and how it’s displayed. A ‘standards’ need to be set but as it never came to fruition on a desktop level, I don’t foresee any hope for a mobile version anytime soon. It will be continually addressed and be in the running, but I have doubts on a strong finish.

Show – Flash. It will make a push after falling way back in 2011. As a Flash developer I have not recommended it as a platform for building a web presence and have pushed the web standards alternatives. There is a place for Flash as it still is the best tool for interactive video, animation and 3D online. I think that Flash will simply be the front runner in selected races. I won’t be an entry in every race, just those where there’s a match. This is no different than thoroughbreds — a horse isn’t entered in 6 furlong races and a mile and a quarter races. There’s a match and it may be that one is a front runner, a speed horse that runs best on the shorter track. Others may prefer the distance race. Flash will continue to be the favorite — but only when entered in selected races.

Place (Exacta) — Development for more plugins and features for use in HTML5 and web browser capabilities. This may come in the form of interaction directly with a file, or via an app. This will happen without a doubt and will probably emerge on both levels. Developing an app for use across all platforms can be time-consuming and costly, but it can be a boost to the industry; consumer and developer alike.

As with many Exacta bets, my two horse often is a hard choice as there are others that I like to combine in the mix. In this Exacta bet, my two horse is definitely the ‘App’. Apps will come in second to plugins only because of ‘App wars’, not fighting amongst each other as we’ve seen with rival software companies — but one App replacing another, only to be replaced by yet another, and maybe specify to a browser. Already there is some indication towards this with Chrome-only apps.

Win — This is a no-brainer. If it says mobile, it’s something to at least consider. There are some who simply handicap based on progeny. It has been proven to be a definite factor based on Equiline stats, but there are many other factors to consider as well. Mobile technologies will no doubt be the focus (a win bet), but that said, there are many aspects of Mobile Technology to consider; networks, applications, content, design…

Win (or get scratched) — Collaboration between designer and developer. Although this has always been a factor to consider in my approach, I think it will come to the forefront much more in time ahead. If not a skill-set that one has (design and development), then collaborate with someone that offers what you lack. There will be a much greater respect for style, content and behavior, and it will be an expectation from the client, whether they are aware of it or not.

Place/Show — Social Media. This is a race within itself and quite easily may become it’s own Triple Crown. Start-ups may be pushed to the side or be engulfed by the larger sites. The most recent example being Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram. I don’t see a winning bet in this race at all. Of course, Twitter and Facebook will continue to hold their positions, with Pinterest rapidly gaining ground. What I do believe in is that each one (social app) provides it’s own unique set of tools. Twitter and Facebook are not alike and a better understanding of how to integrate and educate a client in how or which ones to use is the approach I take. I read a quote that to me summed it up quite well as my main struggle with client’s using social media is the separation between personal and professional: “Twitter is used for the people you want to meet, whereas Facebook is used for those you already know.”

Win — Distributed workforce or as I call it “working from home”. I believe the nature of the work in the future will provide for increased opportunities along these lines. Not only a benefit to the designers and developers, but to the companies as well. Talented employees may now come from beyond the daily commute distance, and collaboration between project personnel can take advantage of the many online tools that in the long run speed up project tasks at a fraction of the cost.

Win – A stronger ‘customer service’ approach. This will occur on every level, but the greatest impact will be from the independent, the smaller design houses and/or the freelancer. The idea that a designer just builds the website will get pushed aside to allow for the issues related to understanding the client’s business needs and exceeding client expectations. It’s an approach I’ve believed in since the start, but I’ve also seen the opposite practiced by some far too often.

Win-Place-Show (ATB) bets need to be placed on internet freedoms. Pick Six, Exactas, Trifectas, Quinellas, Daily Doubles — all are types of multi-horse, intra-race or exotic betting. Internet Freedoms, currently in review by Congress also come in just as many types. There are issues related to protection of intellectual property, economic interests, security concerns and social morals just to name a few. It’s a discussion currently ongoing in Congress and one that certainly requires activism and involvement from each one of us, no matter what view one holds. This is certainly the Derby of all Derby races and is the racing form that we all should be studying in advance of the gate opening. We may not play a factor in the outcome, but at least we’d participate in selecting the horses that are running.