Now, I won’t pretend to be a psychic, and to be able to predict where the internet will be in X number of years - I’m sure it will be a very exciting place, and constantly impress us with new exciting ways to browse and consume information.
The main reason the subject for this post came into my head was the recent birth of my first child. Her arrival got me thinking how amazing it will be for her to grow up in a world where the internet, things like YouTube, Facebook, Wikipedia (or iterations/versions of these), will be a given, and likely be an ongoing presence and reference in her life.
The issue I always have as a developer looking at the exciting developments in website code, design and programming languages, is that to be a GOOD website developer and/or designer, you always have to consider the lowest entry level to your website work.
I’m going to use my analogies again, but stick with me, because hopefully this post will explain why websites take so long to do properly, and why we, as the makers of the web, are always torn between two web worlds - the old, and the future.
Time for a Switchover
The UK is fast approaching the date for digital TV switchover at the moment, after which poor old analogue TV will be yet another footnote in technology history. There has been a lot of campaigning about making sure your TV and aerial are digital TV compatible before analogue gets turned off. The thing is, digital TV is already being superseded by more enhanced services on the same platform such as HD television, and even more recently by 3DTV…
Although most people may not know this, the internet really needs to go through a similar ‘digital switchover’. If you’re aware of it or not, you will be reading this blog post via some form of internet browser. An internet browser interprets the pages of code people like myself produce, and delivers (renders) them to your screen as the lovely designs and layouts (or not so lovely designs and layouts!) you see as web pages.
As with TVs which were made years ago, which may not be digital TV compatible, let alone HD compatible, or 3D compatible, the same goes for the web. Popular web browsers like Internet Explorer (from Microsoft), Safari (from Apple), Chrome (from Google) are but a small selection of browsers through which you can consume your internet content. The problem comes from the individuals and companies which are still using the equivalent of an old black and white TV for the web… a web browser such as Internet Explorer 6.
Upgrade your Browser… Please!
You may never have thought about upgrading your web browser before, or even been aware that it does anything… but it does a lot of things for website developers and designers, opening up the newer tricks and developments in code and technologies… our equivalent of you upgrading to a HD TV or 3D TV… well, taking steps towards one anyway!
The issues I have as a developer are the still ever present audience who are happy with their analogue (old browser), and don’t want, know how, or can’t upgrade to the new ‘whizzy’ up-to-date browsers. You see, when designing and coding, I still have to test and make sure all of my code and technology works on these older platforms, and with people like the UK Government refusing to upgrade from the now over 10 year old Internet Explorer 6, it’s becoming more and more of a struggle to bring all the bells and whistles of the future web to everyone, without excluding people, or compromising and NOT using all the future technologies.
There is no quick or easy fix for this, unless a campaign similar to UK digital switchover is bought to the online world, educating and helping people move away from the past web, into the future. I do hope that there is a solution out there, as it would enable the development of the web to accelerate much faster, given the amount of time currently spent trying to make old browsers run or understand the newest advances in code… you’d think it mad to try and watch HD TV on an old black and white TV set surely?!
I get excited daily about the advances and developments in the online world. The future of the web, in my opinion, lies in cracking the issues with the web browsers - once this is fixed you would start seeing some very exciting things appearing, things which I’m sure my daughter will be on top of in no time, and showing her old Dad up to be an old crumbly man who still remembers analogue TV!