Viewpoint: The universal web must be adaptive
- 8 February 2013
- From the section Business
In the early days of the internet, websites hosted light content that gave basic information about a company or a product.
As sites grew deeper with content, it became harder to find the right information quickly. Users became frustrated and lost.
Along came search technologies - a helping hand to get you to the content you want quickly. Google was the master search butler.
This ability to search content anywhere on the web and have it served up to you with quick link options spurred a new web business.
Not only could companies give you information based on your search, they developed ways to help you complete comparisons of company products and content.
The next step was obvious, help you make a purchase and have it delivered right to your desktop, phone or front door.
So, what does the future hold for the internet?
Access all areas
It's bold. First, we have to look at what's also happened to the way in which we access the web.
The internet started locked to your house, behind large computer boxes and big screens. The laptop gave us the ability to move our internet and plug into wired connections where they were available.
Then something revolutionary happened. The internet went wireless, at first in homes. We could move from one room to the other with a laptop and still get to our favourite internet content.
Then another revolution, wireless internet over the phone airwaves gave access everywhere you could make a wireless phone call.
Mobile devices suddenly became content rich, with access to more information on the go, albeit limited by bandwidth and phone web browser capabilities.
Along came smartphones, where the primary purpose of the device was no longer to make phone calls, but to get to internet content.
An explosion of devices ensued. From different operating systems such as Android, iOS, and MS, to an ever growing diversification of mobile device and screen sizes in tablet to mini-tablet form.
And advanced feature capabilities could be accessed by browsers to enhance your internet experiences, using device features such as cameras, GPS tracking, touch interaction, and many more.
A truly mobile internet future is now a reality - 4G networks can serve faster and more content than ever before, mobile devices will outsell laptops as a primary computing device as early as 2014, and more and more companies want a piece of the customer frenzy, delivering different browsers, phone features, screen sizes and so on.
All the while, this drive to win the user and deliver something different and better was increasing the complexity of how content was served.
Building websites for all the new browsers, screen sizes and device features is becoming difficult. It is difficult for programmers to figure out and keep pace with change, difficult for companies to build and maintain websites that fit to screen size and take advantage of features such as GPS and touch.
And it is difficult to give users the experience they expect based on the device they choose in an ever growing world of higher user expectations.
The future of the internet is creating highly adaptive experiences for users.
But it won't come easy. Just around the corner are internet TVs, cars, refrigerators, and more. You name it and it will be connected to content in the very near future.
Companies that don't figure out how to get their information to customers on any device will disappear.
And more importantly companies that don't figure out how to customise that experience to the device functionality and capabilities will lose customer interest and disappear to the competition.
There is only one solution to the ever diverse, highly experiential and personal internet future.
We need standards, such as HTML5, to make programming to any device use the same language, and software solutions to help companies simplify building websites and web apps to any device using any feature.
These solutions are out there now, allowing companies to build one site for every device and helping create a universal web. Solutions that take rich information and content and adapt it to each device, feature and user requirements.
These solutions are important, because companies need to instead focus on their customer journeys, personalised experiences and developing rich content rather than on how to build websites - or they will disappear.
Daniel Weisbeck is chief marketing officer at mobile development platform Netbiscuits.