Fresno, CA -- (SBWIRE) -- 06/23/2014 -- On top of that achievement he created HTML markup to build web pages, and thus the first inklings of a modern web browser were born. The most recent period of transformation during the rise of ‘Web 2.0’ saw enhanced media capabilities and the emergence of HTML5 web applications in a browser.
But the latest developments in the mobile computing space, have yet again added to a tremendous shift in how the web is used to display information and interact with users. Smartphones, tablets, and the mobile apps that populate such devices have forever changed the approach to web development as we knew it.
Screen Size Has Changed Everything
One of the biggest changes in computing to impact web development is screen size of mobile computing devices. Tablets and smartphones not only have a unique user interface (UI) but the actual size of the interface is constrained compared to a desktop website.
The iPhone clocks in at about 4”, while larger (borderline phablets) come with 6” screens. The most obvious difference between mobile and web development stems from the screen size. Page elements, functionality, and even written content work differently on a mobile app than compared to a website.
Full flown paragraphs and long diatribes describing a company’s history cannot feasibly fit inside a mobile app screen. And users are not interested in straining their eyes to read a bloated product description. Things like video, HD images, and short bursts of focused and strategic content have emerged to better communicate information through a mobile device.
These approaches have extended beyond mobile apps for tablets and smartphones, and have begun to pervade websites. To create a website that is not only accessible to mobile visitors, but optimized for them, brands and organizations must create websites that are primed for mobile.
Techniques such as responsive web design (RWD) equip a site to adapt to screen sizes. This leads to a site that can look-and-feel like a desktop site while on a PC, yet shift elements and present itself in a similar form to that of a mobile app. Thus mobile development techniques have proliferated throughout the web.
From Keyboard, to Mouse, to Touch Screen
In addition to the actual screen size of smartphones and tablets, the multi-touch technology that premiered with the iPhone in 2007 has had a dramatic impact on the way designers and developers build websites. Everything from buttons, header menus, and drop-down menus have changed drastically as a result.
Mobile app interfaces and design techniques are comparably different than their desk bound counterparts. Specifically as a result of the touch screen, designers have been forced to rethink their approach to graphics, buttons, and other content. Increased usage of white space for instance helps to reduce the number of mistakenly pressed buttons from a user’s fingertips.
Touch screens have had a profound impact on the way designers approach UI on the web. Flat design emerged as a direct result of the attempt to cater to touch screens. In the early days of touch screens, skeuomorphism was the go-to school for designing for touch. This trend attempted to replicate physical objects (such as zippers, denim, or 3D objects for buttons) as a means to communicate capable functions on touch.
Due to the familiarity with traditional mouse click, touch screen interfaces needed to communicate function by replicating the physical world. Now that users have had close to seven years to become familiar with touch screens, flat design has emerged as a cleaner cut approach. A majority of enterprise and corporate brand websites implement flat design (take a look at either the Square or Apple website).
Opening Up Access for Optimal Traffic
The primary push that has app-ified websites stems from the goal of reaching customers wherever they are. Mobile devices are being used for researching products, reading reviews, and comparing prices while browsing the aisle. Brands are acknowledging this trend as a legitimate opportunity for reaching customers.
Websites must now be built to accommodate mobile visitors. Whether they access a brand’s website via tablet, smartphone, or desktop, the content and functionality of a site needs to adapt and respond to the form factor being used.
Dedicated mobile websites which offer specific content targeted to the context of mobile visitors, have also emerged. While some mobile sites may stick to the bar-bones functions and information from their desktop site, there is nothing stopping a brand from creating a dedicated mobile site that functions like an app in terms of applications and capabilities.
Development trends such as HTML5, have led to the development of web applications with enhanced functionality (such as geo-location features, offline storage, and enhanced graphical capabilities). Whereas in recent years, Web 2.0 became a buzzword for enhanced media and rich web content, the web as we know it today has become mobile friendly and browsers are capable of running powerful web applications that replace bulky software.
The (Increasingly) Mobile Web
Mobile apps have skyrocketed expectations for what a high quality digital experience can be. And as a result, the standard website has officially become app-ified in an attempt for brands, organizations, and webmaster to maintain attention for the somewhat struggling desktop browser.
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