6 key web trends for 2016

Web industry professionals reveal the trends that will be shaping your web design and development work in the coming year.

01. Voice input

Aaron Gustafson wonders if voice will be the breakout input alternative in the coming year: “Disembodied voices – Cortana, Echo, Google Now, Siri – are an increasingly important way to interact with devices. That trend will continue and we would be wise to ensure our products can adapt to ‘headless’ user interfaces of the future.”

Gustafson thinks this will require designers to be more careful about how their interfaces read. “Folks already excelling in the realm of accessibility will surely have a leg up as they’ve been thinking about voice-based experiences all along!”

02. Security awareness

Author and developer John Allsopp (webdirections.org) maintains security is “everyone’s problem”. For years, he says many in the industry once considered performance an engineering issue, before realising weighty assets and other features were causing problems. “In 2016, I think we’ll see a similar realisation regarding security – that it needs dealing with at every level of a business. That means designers addressing the experience of passwords, accounts and authentication, and business leaders appreciating the impact of security shortcomings.”

03. SEO rules

Decibel Digital (decibeldigital.com) digital marketing manager Owain Powell reckons 2016 will see major changes regarding attracting and converting users: “For years, SEO was the buzz term, with companies striving for first-page keyword results. But efforts didn’t always ensure websites generated higher engagement as a result.”

SEO will therefore increasingly be about a broader approach, involving strong UX, and utilising conversion rate optimisation (CRO) to understand and work to improve conversions. Powell presents an analogy with offline models: “If SEO is the promotion that drives visitors to a store, UX provides an effective layout and signage in-store. CRO is the understanding of what drives customers to the till.”

04. New interaction options

Principal UX designer for Quantcast (quantcast.com) Jonathan Smiley hopes 2016 will be the year the web “responds more robustly to varied media and input”. He says native apps are doing a lot with gestures, biometrics and other interactions; but “with browsers opening up more native functionality to the web, and robust JavaScript like Service Workers, we can create the same level of depth in web apps to make them indistinguishable from native apps”.

05. Open source security

Snyk founder Guy Podjarny (snyk.io) says developer ownership of security will be a big topic in 2016: “Attackers are getting increasingly sophisticated, often targeting open source, and security is constantly in the headlines – whether due to a breach or new security/privacy legislation. As development becomes continuous, infrastructure becomes code and open source boosts our productivity, developers will have to face and own this problem, embracing security as an aspect of quality.”

06. Progressive web apps

There’s currently a lot of discussion surrounding progressive web apps – fast, native app-like experiences built using modern web technology. Google engineer Addy Osmani (addyosmani.com) is excited: “We all love the web. It’s great for discoverability, ease of use and sharing. URLs power this, without needing to ‘install’ anything from an app store. Now, sites will have app-like capabilities, supporting background tasks, sending push notifications, and it’s kind of awesome”. He adds that because progressive web apps treat these features as an enhancement, you still get a good experience in browsers lacking support for them.

Words: Craig Grannell

Craig Grannell spends most of his day smashing words into shape. He’s been writing about the web and design since 2001, when it was all green fields. This accompanies the article ‘The top 22 web design trends 2016’, which you’ll find in issue #277 of net magazine.