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What 2014 holds for The Web

A New Year, new horizons, new challenges and new technologies
Now that the festive season is over we at Pull are buzzing with activity. New faces abound, with more to come as work continues to roll in as business is won from many diverse industry sectors. The future looks bright.
So what does 2014 hold for the web?

The End of Flash?

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HTML 5 and CSS3 have been heralded as Flash killers with browser plug-ins (such as Flash Player, Silverlight and Java) taking a back seat and doffing their cap to the shiny new technologies we have at our disposal.

A number of factors have had an influence on this move to a more standards based and semantic web.

  • Browser plug-ins need to be kept up to date, who enjoys updating their Flash Player (or any other browser plug in for that matter) on a regular basis? It’s jarring to your personal User Experience and feels like a waste of your valuable time.

  • Flash based content is not available on Apple mobile devices such as iPhone and iPad. The popularity of these devices cannot be ignored.  Audiences (your users, potentially customers) using these devices will simply go somewhere else if frustrated.

  • Adobe has announced that they will effectively kill Flash Player for Android and Blackberry Playbook stating that HTML5 is the “best solution for creating and deploying content in the browser across mobile platforms”.  The Adobe Flash Player has been pulled from Android’s Google Play store as a result of Adobe’s decision to halt the development of its software for mobile devices.

  • Flash has never been in any way beneficial to SEO, content contained in a .SWF is effectively locked away from Search Engines (despite Googles’ best efforts at indexing content presented in the Flash Player). Even a Flash gallery will negate the availability of the images contained within it, meaning an image related search will not even return your assets. 

  • Flash is poor for Accessibility. Although Adobe have improved support for Accessibility when using Flash developers rarely implement this correctly, if at all.

Internet Explorer’s Market Share Will Increase

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What’s that?
The browser that every developer loves to hate regaining its market position?
Well, yes it will. Fact.

2014 will see the release of at least IE12 (IE11 is currently available on Windows 7 and 8) and it has improved.
Acid test scores are rivalling our favourite standards compliant browsers and support for the latest HTML 5 and CSS3 features has been baked in (even though I predict it will still be the slowest to adopt new features). 

IE still comes packaged with new installs of Windows, even though Browser Choice has been forced on Microsoft, meaning that it still remains the default for most users, especially non-technical ones.
Microsoft has recognised the need for a feature rich, standards compliant browser and boy, is it about time! Firefox, Chrome, Opera and Safari remain its major competitors but Internet Explorer continues to claw back its market share, Firefox, Opera and Safari for Windows being the main losers as Chrome continues to dominate the browser market.

Mobile Browsing Will Continue to Rise

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Worldwide use of smart phones is only now starting to exceed the use of feature phones, massive growth is being experienced in Asia, South America and Eastern Europe.

Yes, all your friends have got the latest Apple or Android phone, but across the world the uptake of this technology is really starting to take hold. Desktop usage is declining and predictions abound that smart phone usage to access the web will soon exceed desktops and the figures support this.

Mobile access currently accounts for one in five web visits — by the end of 2014 it will exceed one in four. The advent of Responsive Web Design has come at exactly the right time to improve User Experience on smart phones and has only accelerated this growth. Responsive Web Design will be covered in more depth in a future article.

At the beginning of a New Year it seemed appropriate to take stock of where we are and where the future leads us. Although not exhaustive I believe that the three points mentioned above will have an impact on the way we use the web in 2014, and will probably have the widest felt effect. Mobile this year will be mahoosive and if you own a website that is not catering for mobile users now is the time to get in touch!

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