June 01, 2012
In the earlier days of the internet, users would open up their browser, type in a URL and start surfing. However, with increasing adoption of mobile devices and the proliferation of web apps, now users can access their favorite websites without even opening a browser window.
According to Anthony Creech, a contributor to the Moose Jaw Times Herald, the "internet is loose" now, no longer limited to the browser. And while hopping onto Firefox, Chrome, Safari or Internet Explorer is still necessary for certain tasks, such as playing Facebook games or visiting some websites, the majority of web users can easily access their favorite content without loading one of those programs. Email and RSS readers offer content aggregators for almost every website, while mobile apps can replace Facebook, Twitter, news sites and more.
Creech also pointed out that there are now two basic models that will shape the future of internet access: the application offered on tablets and smartphones and the pure-browser experience that takes advantage of the cloud. The latter is best exemplified by Google's foray into operating systems, Chrome OS. Chrome makes use of cloud apps and cloud storage to remove the desktop experience entirely, allowing users to do all of their computing online and in the browser.
While these two experiences are vastly different, they both mark an important step in the evolution of the internet. Web UI design begins to focus on the new ways that users are accessing the net, with adaptive design and mobile sites becoming more prevalent and web apps or browser extensions replacing the need for dedicated web portals. Users are demanding speed and mobility in their methods for accessing the web, and modern trends reflect that.
Whether focusing on website or mobile application development, creators have to remember to maximize the user experience. As the most important part of web design, if the user isn't happy with the end result, traffic will decrease, resulting in a loss of profit.