Membership Sales and Retention

How Evolving Web Technology is Shaping the Future of Business

By Chris Phillips, Software Engineer/Systems Analyst

In these days of extreme internet availability, it’s hard to think back to a time before the internet was a large part of our lives - even though it’s barely been 20 years ago. In 1993 the World Wide Web standard had just been created and there were only 50 HTTP web hosts.  If you weren’t in academia at the time, there was a good chance you hadn’t even used the internet. 

Jump forward 20 years and we now use internet technologies constantly in everything we do. As I write this, I’ve got 3 internet enabled devices with me between my PC, my tablet, and my smartphone. Every second of every day I have access to my friends, family and my business colleagues. This kind of access has changed the way we interact with each other in ways we would have never imagined previously. My good friends recently had their first child and within an hour of her birth not only had I been sent a Facebook notification announcing her arrival but pictures showed up a scant 30 minutes later.

Business too has changed in the past 20 years. Micro-transactions are a common part of internet-enabled commerce, while in 1993 the word e-commerce made its first appearance in the Merriam-Webster dictionary. Since the release of the iPad, tablet computers have become so commonplace that we see commercials like the one from eBay about being the one guy in a meeting still using a pen and legal pad. In fact, smartphones with email access have become so pervasive that it’s almost impossible to do business in many companies without one as your colleagues expect you to receive their email no matter where you are.

With all of these changes in mind, it might be hard to think where technology will change business next. So far, 2013 has begun with a focus on reaching users wherever they’re located. We’re seeing more focus on mobile technologies like smartphones and tablets. Desktop PCs almost seem like dinosaurs and even Windows, king of the PC world, has made its way onto tablets.

Because of this, we’re already seeing experts dub 2013 as the “Year of Responsive Design."  For those of you who haven’t heard this term before, Responsive Design means that your website is programmed in a way that it adapts itself to whatever device it’s displayed on. When a responsive site is viewed on a desktop it will look like any older style site but when you view it on a much smaller smartphone screen the site will adapt and change its layout elements to optimize for the device’s lower resolution.  This kind of a focus lets you offer your site visitors the best possible experience no matter what they’re using to view your content. All WebLink websites are now built using RWD. You can learn more about WebLink websites here.

Another area of growth is mobile commerce. Now that tablets are common we’re seeing more and more apps designed for doing business on a phone or tablet.  The biggest advantage of these apps is that they can integrate directly with the hardware at use and allows for things like credit card swiping rather than typing in all the information, which from my experience makes things much simpler. You can learn about WebLink's new iPad app here.

Finally, we’re also seeing renewed efforts on the User Interface / User Experience world.  One example is the latest trends in rich JavaScript interfaces. While JavaScript itself isn’t a new technology we’re seeing more and more advancement both from a technology known as JQuery, which provides a rich UI on websites, and another concept called UI binding.  When these two are applied in conjunction with one another the result is a website that has all the features and benefits of interface techniques that were only a few years ago reserved for installed desktop software.

If you have any technology stories to share, would like to discuss any technologies you see shaping the future of business, or are interested in any of WebLink's technologies, please leave a comment below.

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