State of the Web Address 2012 – Web Dev 3.0

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Web Design 3.0 – THe Evolution Begins
The web is constantly evolving. You’re probably familiar with the term Web 2.0. Even if you aren’t a web designer, you’ve probably noticed how the internet has changed for the better in the last 10 years. However, the evolution continues. Those who don’t adapt don’t survive. Let’s take a look at the most advanced technologies that are moving us toward Web 3.0. Developers and marketers take note: if you’re not keeping up, you’ll soon be losing customers.

Where We’ve Been

The internet has definitely changed over the years. The original world wide web was little more than static pages that could be displayed through a web browser. Sure, there were links to email and many sites had meaningful, regularly-updated information. However, developers had to spend a lot of time writing HTML code just to create a basic page. Users were little more than viewers of content. Much like a television program, there was little interaction between audience and source.

This is where Web 2.0 came into play. The term was rather ambiguous and sometimes applied to a variety of changes. Basically, Web 2.0 marked a change in design that allowed users to contribute to sites. The advent of social networking, YouTube and other user-created content sites put the audience in greater control of the content. Where do we go from here?

Where We Are Now

Much like Web 2.0 brought users into the world of content creation, Web 3.0 marks a paradigm shift in the way sites themselves are created and who can actually get into the game. Open source is the new standard. Monolithic corporations with obsolete programs are now losing business to these community-driven projects.

Web 3.0 consists of a number of innovative technologies that are changing the way sites are built and creating communities around the process. Smartphones are starting to offer the same experience as a laptop. The mobile web is becoming a viable means of ecommerce, banking and social networking. What technologies are driving all this cool stuff?

The Web 3.0 Players

Asynchronous JavaScript and XML

You might have heard the term Ajax before but probably don’t have a clear idea of what it is. This technology is a combination of java and XML that allows for websites to behave more like a local application. Years ago, filling out a web form was a slow and arduous process. Pulling down a combo box and selecting a value would often reload the whole page. This was the online world before this design was developed.

Most websites today implement this design methodology to create websites that react smoothly to user actions. Thanks to this system, we now enjoy streamlined ecommerce sites, the ability to search database through the web and intuitive interfaces on forms.

jQuery

jQuery is single handedly responsible for putting Flash in the backseat. This dynamic system allows for Ajax development without re-inventing the wheel each time you make a new site. Additionally, a variety of plug-ins add versatility and functionality that used to take a professional programmer a week to develop. Since it works on iPads and iPhones, it quickly replaced Flash for creating sleek user interfaces.

Even big name sites are jumping on the board with this technology. Twitter.com, StumbleUpon.com, Imgur.com, Reference.com and StackOverflow.com are all amazing examples of the slick interfaces that are easily created with this tool. This kind of adaptation shows that open source is no joke.

WordPress

Just as a sense of community among users defined Web 2.0, Web 3.0 has brought that same community to developers. WordPress is one of the most amazing success stories for community-based projects. There are over 72 million sites using this tool. This amazing little PHP framework made it possible for someone with almost no technical experience to purchase a web domain, install the tool and create a customized website in a matter of minutes. The community has created dozens of resources and extended functionality. Other site creation services like Joomla pale into comparison to what this free tool can offer.

HTML5

HTML is the underlying language of the internet. However, there are lots of things it can’t do. That is, until HTML5 was implemented. These updates to hypertext markup language helps web crawlers understand the semantic context of a page. This is important for search engine optimization and creating quality sites. Additionally, it allows for easier implementation of drag and drop, graphics, document editing and other features that were being redundantly programmed in other languages in the past.

Who is already using the latest HTML functionality? According to Doctype, 34 percent of the top 100 sites are using version five. This includes heavy-hitters like Google, Facebook, YouTube, Yahoo and Wikipedia. In fact, the top seven most popular sites are all completely converted to this new HTML standard.

CSS3

The third iteration of cascading style sheets marks a large step in the right direction for abstracting the style and graphics of a site from its actual content. Any good programmer knows something is not right if he has to write the same code more than once. In the past, all the graphic and style elements code was repeated on each page. The content was the only part that was unique. CSS3 splits out the content and the design so that new pages can be created on the fly and style changes are consistent across the site.

Where We Are Going

The lower level of technical expertise needed to create a website, blog or ecommerce site means that creative people can now get into the game without years of technical training or expensive third-party products. Older systems like OSCommerce are trying to sell functionality that comes for free with Web 3.0 technology. The time to change is now!

However, there is still a lot on the horizon for the future of the web. Search engines are still guessing what we’re looking for. They don’t understand the context of a search phrase. Browsing the web on smartphones still needs to become standardized. In the future, a consistency between what we see on the mobile web and a PC will help integrate the internet fully into our day-to-day activities.

The future is bright for the web. However, companies that don’t keep up will soon disappear. You’ve been warned; if you aren’t using these technologies, even non-technical users will know. Your site will seem archaic and obsolete. Don’t become a victim of change. Become a success story with Web 3.0.

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