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The New Face of the Web: Trends in Front-End Development

The New Face of the Web: Trends in Front-End Development

While browsing through a website with an extremely easy user interface (UI), our mind inadvertently goes back to the times when just loading a web page was an enduring task.

Moving from the mouse-driven computers to smartphones and tablets, web pages have adapted themselves seamlessly over the years.

The year 2015 and beyond will witness some benchmark transformations in front-end technologies. Internet users will traverse this wave of change, enjoying speedier and more appealing web pages.

Moving along this technological wave, we are hooked on providing the best web solutions today. Based on our expertise, here is an in-depth view of the current and future trends in front-end development.

The User’s Perspective

Front-end development is the face of the application. As users, we want web pages to be friendly and appealing.

Here are some aspects of front-end technologies which users are most interested in:

  • Compatibility: The ability to adapt to different internet browsers.
  • Usability: This attribute signifies the easy-to-use aspect of the website.
  • Complexity: This specifies the back-end of the web application, which controls the speed and security of the data.

Whatever the style and time may be, engaging these aspects remains unchanged.

Recent Trends in Web Development

Web technologies have taken a major leap with the changing requirements. The applications that go well on a laptop screen are now also compatible with mobile phones.

There are some important parameters that have implemented these changes, so let’s take a look of these:

Responsive Web Design

For any website, the response of users is the most imperative factor. A responsive web design (RWD) allows users to browse the website from any appliance, including mobile phones and tablets. The most recent and famous RWD frameworks are Twitter Bootstrap and Zurb.

responsivegraphics

 

The above figure shows the compatibility of a webpage towards a screen of any size. Some features of RWD are that it:

  • Makes websites compatible with web and mobile; and
  • Minimises user efforts, such as updating data.

Hence, a web application with the best RWD is required to streamline the user’s interactions.

Mobile-First Architecture

The architecture of a web application is currently being controlled by the mobile-first strategy. It’s an obvious move, as we all have turned into frequent mobile users. The most recent is the Representational State Transfer (RESTful) architecture for server-side coding.

Note: The RESTful architecture style provides a uniform interface. Properties such as performance, scalability and modifiability to work on the web are induced in the application.

Mobile-stats-vs-desktop-users-global

Image credits: www.smartinsights.com

The bar diagram above shows the growth of smartphone users till 2018 and shows that meeting the demand of the use of adaptable architecture is important.

Features of mobile-first architecture are that it:

  • Supports mobile platform and enterprise integration;
  • Streamlines end-to-end procurement for the organisations; and
  • Streamlines web development.

Rise of API Driven Development

It is difficult to find someone who cannot operate a smartphone since the “touch factor” has made this possible. The Application Program Interface (API) is, therefore, the strength of these devices. The architectural design, especially RESTful architecture, has an important role to play.

Features of API-driven development, especially RESTful, are that:

  • It is compatible with both mobile and web applications;
  • Its server side is restricted to data and security only;
  • It is compatible with operating systems, such as Android, iOS, Windows and TV; and
  • It is adaptable to the changing technological landscape.

Mobile Back-End as a Service

Mobile Back-End as a Service (MBaaS) is the cloud technology facet of front-end technologies. The back-end services for Parse and Azure Mobile Services have already adapted MBaaS.

Mbaas

Image credits www.appspanel.com                                                           

The figure above explains how MBaaS can enhance the shaping of the enterprise.

Some of the strongest features in favour of MBaaS are that:

  • These platforms provide automatic Restful services;
  • It supports mobility-specific back-end services; and
  • The platforms provide JavaScript SDKs along with Mobile SDKs for HTML5 clients.

Hence, MBaaS will take over the pages for mobile as well as the web. It can induce a dramatic growth in front-end technologies.

Single Page Application

A Single Page Application (SPA) loads a single page and dynamically updates the page as per the user’s interaction. With the RESTful services, the web pages on our desktop act like the UI of the web browser. The server side is, therefore, limited to data and security.

 SPA Working

Some of the strong features of SPA are that it is:

  • Powered with hybrid mobile containers for multiple mobile platforms;
  • Best for small-sized to medium-sized mobile apps;
  • Recommended for UIs based on data forms; and
  • Single code base for both web apps and mobile apps.

ReactJS Front-End Frameworks

ReactJS

ReactJS is a form of JavaScript, which has been extensively used by recent web applications. The most well know implementations are Facebook and Instagram. This framework supports quick rendering.

Some important features of ReactJS are that it:

  • Can work as a face of the Model View Controller (MVC) framework;
  • Introduced the concept of virtual DOM;
  • Has a high performance while rendering the UI; and
  • Provides data flow in a single direction when used with FLUX architecture.

The six aspects mentioned above are an integral part of today’s web development.

With our years of experience and expertise in the field, we have comprehensively ventured into every aspect.

Predictions for 2015 and Beyond

Though the recent revolution in web technology is astounding, the next era will bring about a massive vertical leap.

Currently, the technologies that rule the brains of web developers are facing challenges with the changing requirements and landscapes.

The most common scripting methods like Node.JS, JavaScript and Koa framework are on the verge of “gradual extinction”. The year 2015 and beyond will bring in new trends, such as:

  • Dynamic languages will gradually come to an end;
  • Technologies like Node.JS can become obsolete for maintainability reasons;
  • The emergence of GO technology will occupy all the work done on Node.JS; and
  • Java and .Net will survive the medium-sized and larger enterprise apps.

The GO Technology Era

GO (i.e. golang) is a static, open source programming language that supports building simple and efficient software solutions.

Developed by Google, GO is predicted to be the next generation language. GO has already been implemented in systems like Docker, Packer:IO and websocketed. Some reasons that stand strong in favour of GO are that:

  • It is static with the flexibility of dynamic languages;
  • There are no JIT compilation needed and, hence, concurrency is its strength;
  • It is the most recommended for building an HTTP server using RESTful services;
  • It is flexible for use in system programming and large distributed apps; and
  • It will be known as the language of the cloud era.

Ace the Race with the Masters

Trends are dynamic and so are the technologies associated with them. The introduction of cloud and platform independent technologies has brought new languages to instruct digital devices.

RESTful services have taken over control and static languages, such as GO, are immersed as languages for cloud technologies. To ace this race of huge turnover, associating with the best maven would be the first and most important step.

So what’s your prediction about front-end development? Please share your comments below and thanks for reading!

Mobile First Approach & Strategy – What, Why, How, When?

Mobile First Approach & Strategy – What, Why, How, When?

 

Mobile First Strategy_Stats_New

Gone are the days when websites were developed for large screens of desktop computers or laptops. Today, everything has to be scaled down to fit smaller screens of mobile devices such as smartphones or tablets.

With Google’s mobile-friendly update for websites as released on April 21, 2015, it has now become apparent for every webmaster or blogger to apply a mobile-first strategy for website development.

Developers now focus on mobile-optimised websites that work great on mobile phones and tablets, and then scale up perfectly for larger computer or laptop screens.

Let’s take a look at what mobile first web-design means, and its importance for websites, and how to start development of mobile-friendly websites.

What Does Mobile-First Approach Mean?

The ‘mobile first’ strategy for website development involves designing an online experience first for mobile devices and then optimizing it for scaling up to desktop and laptop computers.

It does not mean designing a website that works well on desktop computers and then adjusting it to be compatible with mobile phones or tablets. The mobile-first process is to design online websites specifically for mobile customers, keeping their dynamic behaviour, context and needs in perspective.

The user interface should suit mobile devices with easily readable text and easy navigation to the different sections of the site.

Why Go Mobile-First?

The number of mobile users has increased manifold and easily outnumbers the number of people that access websites on PCs or laptops.

According to a ComScore report, mobile devices generate more than 60% of the online traffic to websites. This percentage keeps on increasing with every passing quarter, and that has fuelled the need for every business to have mobile-friendly websites.

Mobile First Strategy

Source: ComScore

So, if you haven’t optimised your website yet, you need to get their sites scaled up for the smaller screens.

Today, the majority of internet users access social media via tablets or mobile phones. So, a new website shared on any social media platform with friends and colleagues is more likely to be viewed first on the screens of mobile devices.

If the site is not mobile-friendly and users are unable to view it correctly the first time around, then, they are less likely to recheck the website from their desktop or laptop. It is, therefore, obvious that any new website or blog needs to be designed and developed with a mobile-first strategy.

Importance of Mobile-Friendly Websites in 2015

Now, it has become even more important to develop mobile-optimised websites because of the mobile-first update (known as mobilegeddon) from Google (in April 2015).

As per the update, any mobile-friendly website or blog has a better chance of appearing higher in Google search results on mobile devices as compared to sites that are not mobile-optimized.

Another reason for websites to move to mobile-optimised versions is the ever-growing trend of online shoppers preferring to use apps for shopping. The amount of time that is saved (by shopping on the move) along with the money saved through discount deals on the apps of famous eCommerce players has ignited the need to go mobile with websites on an immediate basis.

Any new eCommerce merchant has to ensure that the developed website is first compatible with mobile devices as the majority of the target audience will be tablet and smartphone users.

This need was further emphasised when Amazon reported around 60% online sales from mobile devices during shopping season in 2014 (source: CNET ).

Useful Tips for Mobile-First Site Development

It is necessary to have a fluid and responsive design instead of an adaptive one. This will ensure the site layout fits accurately for varied screen sizes of different mobile phones and tablets.

Another important task is to focus only on the core features and content, as mobile sites need to be developed within limited real estate.

So, unlike the screen real estate available with larger monitors and displays, web designers need to rethink their strategy while designing a mobile website from scratch. Anything that is not absolutely necessary for the mobile users can be removed from the site design to save space.

The preferable approach is to focus solely on content (images, text, forms) initially, followed by site beautification through the addition of CSS elements. Later, the focus should be to provide add-on features using JavaScript.

This progressive enhancement approach from content to styling to the presentation will add immense value to the mobile website.

So have you adopted the mobile-first approach for your websites already? Let us know in the comments below, and thanks for reading!

Mobile Search Optimization – Google’s Move to Change the Game

Mobile Search Optimization – Google’s Move to Change the Game

Google’s search engine algorithms are important on many counts. While all web developers know the basic SEO strategies, businesses need to be aware of how Google wants them to behave.

Mostly, the trend is of businesses look at exploring White Hat SEO, or SEO through ethics that Google approves, in a better way. The latest Google update just reinforces Google’s dominance in the search engine market. The Google Penguin update, for instance, was aimed at filtering spammy content and ensuring that quality content rank higher. Now, we see that Google has introduced the Mobilegeddon update that is rewarding websites, which are mobile friendly.

In fact, there is one interesting point that I would want to mention here. As early as 2013, Google’s Matt Cutt had stated how the company will now penalize companies with slower page loading times.  Yes, Google’s plan to move in this direction was evident for some time now – it was not a matter of if but when.

What Does The Mobilegeddon Update Mean?

The Mobilegeddon update is aimed to reward businesses with sites that are mobile friendly, helping them get better rankings in search results and be featured more prominently.

The change, effective from April 21, means that you will have to design a mobile friendly site sooner than later if you want to stay in the competition. The update seems to be much more important than all Google updates till date, including Google Panda and Penguin. Those in the web developer world would know that when these two updates were introduced, the rankings of many websites changed drastically – many for the worse. Some of these sites never managed to recover. So, what does this mean if you’re a website owner?

A Mobile-Friendly Site… Is Your Site One?

A mobile friendly site has a responsive design, a dynamic service, and separate URLs. You can check out Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test page. to know how mobile friendly your site is.  While not perfect, the test is an indicator of how mobile friendly Google thinks your site to be. While the parameters by Google aren’t available (Google never discloses their algorithm how they rank websites because that can lead to its misuse), but we can figure out some expected developments nonetheless. Here is a roundup of the changes you can expect from the update.

Expect each page to be assessed individually

It all probability, Google will access each page individually. This means that all your web pages need to be mobile friendly and not just one – most popular searches will probably feature mobile friendly only pages.  This also means that if your website has both mobile friendly pages and desktop only pages, expect only the former pages to be promoted. However, most websites are either mobile friendly or not, so this shouldn’t be a problem.

Drop in rankings

This is obvious – if your website is not mobile friendly, expect it to drop significantly in search results.

Real-time operation

This is a big development. Google is expected to update in real time. This means that if you do not have a mobile site ready yet – don’t worry. When you’re ready with one, expect Google to pick it up and reorganize the search engine rankings accordingly. However, do note that Google’s web crawlers do need to index your page. This can take a few days or even weeks at times – so expect delays the first time when you have your mobile site ready.

Search Results On Mobiles

Did you notice how search results differ in your mobile? For one, check out the local search results in your smart phone – they’re bound to differ from the one in your desktop. This development was a result of the Google Hummingbird update and the Mobilegeddom update is just one step further.

Why Did Google Bring Out The Update?

While we might be interested more in the changes Google brings with the update, an important factor is why Google chose to go the mobile way now. The reasons are simple – mobile growth has been phenomenal in the last few years and more people access the internet from their smartphones than their PC’s. Translate this into the fact that Google aims to enhance user experience, and rewarding mobile friendly sites was a natural option.

The development means that users can browse quickly on their smartphones and access all features of the site. A simple example would be with sites that still have Flash (yes, there still are some of them out there, though the advantages of having a Flash site is next to none). Mobile devices cannot play Flash and people accessing the site would not have been able to view the website content properly. Now, that is going to change with Google gathering search results that create the right user experience for the mobile user.

Here is a chart to survive the Mobilegeddon update.

Mobile_Search

Have you been affected yet by the Mobilegeddon update?  How many of our readers do have a mobile friendly site? If not, when are you planning to have one? Or do you feel that you don’t need one, yet?

iOS and Android Design Trends: It’s Time to Evolve

The middle of the last decade saw two Operating Systems begin to take shape – the iOS and the Android. Apple owned one, and the other was open source. A lot has changed since then. The ninth iOS version has just been announced while Android has seen everything from Gingerbread to Lollipop.

The user base of both the companies has grown too. It wasn’t just a few years back that smartphones weren’t affordable for the common many. In fact, touch screens by itself were a luxury. Processor improvements, RAM increase and a host of new specs meant that these two OS needed to change too, for the better. Then, Google acquired Android. Android smartphone prices came at a level where the general consumer could afford one – and the smartphone war started.

While Google and Apple continue to battle it out against each other, both companies manage to woo in customers only because their OS gets better with time. One of the major developments that both companies have stressed in is that of design and development.  Enhancing the user experience and intuitiveness seems to be at the focus point and for a good reason.

App Developers – A Story That Has Just Begun

The developments mean that app developers can rethink on their app strategies. With a better UI, app developers can design apps that rake in more customers and drive in more traffic. Some features are the same while some are unique to one of them. The unique benefits mean that developers can look at a good amount of customization too. So, what are the Android and iOS design trends that app developers can take advantage of?

Here is a look at the trends of both the OS.

Android

 

Flat interface design

Android and iOS both have a flat design today, which offers a neat and clean look to the interface, and allows for a better user experience. A flat interface essentially means that users can access apps and features quicker. The simple colour schemes can beautifully use the Flat design.

 

Use of bright and vibrant colours

Again, this is something similar to both iOS and Android systems – apart from a high PPI ratio, the Android interface offers rich and vibrant colours for users, which aims to grab attention right away.

 

Use of layered interface

A layered interface means that users have a 3D-like experience, enabling increased user engagement. Users can also use a multi-layer interface, with active widgets at the front and the inactive ones at the back.

 

Google Material Design

Introduced in 2014, Google’s own Material Design has a host of new features, which includes grid-based layouts, and responsive animations. There is also Google Now, which uses a ‘card’ like motifs and extensive transitions, padding and in-depth effects. The introduction of shadows to app icons was a first, which meant that visible edges and surfaces of app icons and objects could be seen clearly. This in turn means that users get to experience the Android touchscreen in a more life-like manner.

 

Code Thumb-Focused Interface

Most people prefer using their smartphones with one hand – and developers can design apps that recognize simple thumb oriented gestures easily. You can even specify the instances when multiple finger gesture is needed. This betters user experience and increases the engagement rate.

 

Use of blur effects extensively

Both the iOS and Android use blur effects. It helps offer a clean look and users can focus on the areas of the screen that are ‘working’.

 

Effective Animation

Animation just makes the user experience a whole lot cooler. From background animations to in-app animations, developers can add in graphics and animations easily to give their app an edge.

 

Gestures For Different Audience

Developers can create unique gestures for the application. Think of the Game Amazing Spiderman: Unlimited by Gameloft. This episodic adventure game which involves you running around mostly, allows you to control the super hero with your gestures. While a single swipe allows you to change lanes, a swipe with two fingers means that you can change two lanes at once. Developers thus have a world of potential out there, and app designing becomes so much more exciting.

 

iOS

If Android got you talking about the user improvements, here is what iOS has to offer.

 

Native improvised design

Developers have it easy with a native environment that is friendly to app development. Aimed to make the app user experience more enjoyable, it helps developers integrate the native functions into the app easily.

 

Flat design everywhere

The iOS 7 introduced the flat design, enhancing user experience up by a few notches. The design is just right for viewing on mobile phones and offers a complete experience.

 

Minimal design -just what is needed

Down the years, there has been a trend in going minimalistic. A minimal design tries to say a lot more by saying a lot less. That’s a reason app icon sizes have gone smaller and there is a lot more information to your screen space without it seeming overdone.

 

New-age typography

Another important change that I see is the fact that there are so many typography options available. Whether it being customizing your keyboard or using newer fonts, typography options help user explore more and send messages in new, innovative ways. Apple only recently allowed third party apps and API integration, helping users personalize easily.

 

Use of bright and vibrant colors

While pixel density is always focused on while creating iOS devices, Apple also uses bright and vibrant colours to enhance the user experience.

 

Blur effects

iOS too uses Blur effects, which means that users can check out the portions of the screen that are working – while all other portions of the screen can be blurred out.

 

Gesture targeted designs

Pinch on the picture to zoom in. Swipe your fingers to move from one screen to another. Gesture targeted designs have made users experience iOS devices in a new way while allowing developers to use their creativity a little more.

 

Building a successful app – Do’s and Don’t’s

How do you build your app? Understanding the benefits on offer and the unique features of the operating system you’re developing for, will just enable you to develop apps that fully explore the capabilities. This in turn betters user experience and helps you reach out to a wider audience. Here are a few do’s and don’t that can help you.

Do

  • Do explore the full potential of the operating system
  • Do keep your audience in mind
  • Do focus on user engagement
  • Do create a fluid UI and gestures that are easy to comprehend

Don’t

  • Don’t use dull colors
  • Don’t use complex working method that makes users read a ten page manual first
  • Don’t just design something for the sake of it – the user has to like what you’ve to offer.

iOS and Android have stayed up to date, constantly reinventing themselves down the years and helping developers do a lot more. While they have managed to retain user engagement with their native interface, the question is, does your app have the potential to use those design features to spark user engagement?

SaaS Trends in 2013

With the start of the new financial year, it is time to assess and analyze all that 2013 gave us. This post focuses on the trends and leads that SaaS development has seen in the year gone by. Businesses are continually looking for new paradigms for sourcing software functionality and Software as a Service (SaaS) is a technology that helps businesses achieve exactly this and much more. Cloud hosted or web delivered SaaS has several benefits, which are –

  • Scalability
  • Improved efficiency of the company’s processes
  • Optimization of the company’s IT budget

Some of the trends that this technology has seen in the year 2013 are –

Mobile Continues to Rule
The one revolution that has taken the world by a storm in the past decade or so is the Mobile Revolution. Mobile technology and its evolution has affected the SaaS drive notably. The services that are most in demand these days are for mobile applications and for mobile marketing purposes. A drift from the desktop model to the 4-G capable environment is clearly visible and considered more right and relevant for users. The services, which have shown a drift, include internal business software and consumer services.Increased Spending of the U.S. Customers and Emerging Markets’s Customers

The year 2013 saw a considerable increase in the growth, in popularity and use of SaaS, in emerging markets. An OpenView item that was published in Jan 2013 projected a growth rate of as much as 25% for the year. While the American customers increased their tech spending, the tech spending in the European countries went low as compared to what they were the year 2012.Japan and China also saw a steady increase in their tech spending.

Cloud Hosting and PaaS

PaaS is also gaining immense popularity lately. Used as a web delivered software serving as a platform as far as functionality is concerned, Platform as a Service is used within the realm of SaaS. The beauty of this system is the fact that it is capable of supporting the development and several different forms of engineering.

In fact,Antony Kosner in his article for the Forbes Magazine, PaaStermed PaaS as a rentable backend platform. This means that the developers can access the environment for development of mobile applications easily. Therefore, it has an impact on the future markets of SaaS.

Key Industry Players
From an analysis of the market, Parrallels, Workday, Salesforce.com, Microsoft and SAP have emerged as leaders in the SaaS landscape. Although, most of these names may not be the first choice of the clients, they are still the popular providers when it comes to specific services. Their demand is realized by business leaders and executives who are capable of figuring out the kind of services or web-delivered platform, which are unique to these industry leading companies, can do for them.Replacing Internal IT Departments

Although, it is a point that is considered integral to the SaaS system, it is worth mentioning that the use of a SaaS option replaces an ‘internal IT model’. The delivered option is customized, by the local technical department, to suit the requirements of the business concerned. Therefore, the use of SaaS makes the IT departments lean as issues like upgrades and fixes can be simply transferred to the vendor.

As a business, what will you prefer – buying monthly subscriptions for software solutions or buying them in entirety? Quite obviously, monthly arrangement looks like a cost-effective approach, which is an option that only SaaS provides. You have to realize that businesses are experiencing a technological change at the moment and the fact that a SaaS approach is capable of supporting any form of business approach is the reason why the popularity of SaaS has increased by leaps and bounds in 2013.