Over the years, websites have evolved far beyond just being simple static HTML pages created in Dreamweaver. We’ve seen the rise of database-driven websites utilising platforms such as Joomla, Drupal and WordPress, but we’ve also seen shifts in form factor across a multitude of devices. With all of these changes, websites have become increasingly varied, adaptive, and incredibly powerful. What changes can we expect to see to form factors and technologies, not just for web design, but user experiences and web access in general in the next decade? Let’s take a look at the future of web design and web access during the next 10 years.
One of the first things to consider when designing a new website is which devices and screen resolutions you will be targeting. Think back to the early internet where websites were all being viewed on similar screens on similar internet connections. The pages were very basic and didn’t contain much in the way of visual flair. Newer websites take into account different form factors and screen resolutions. Responsive design allows the appearance of the website to adjust depending on the device that is viewing it thus providing the best experience to the user. This is not only good for current devices but will be great for devices such as the Apple Vision Pro. With multiple websites being displayed via AR at varying different sizes, responsive design is just as important.
As innovations in software and hardware take place over the course of the next decade, will we see a similar effect with more devices and form factors that result in enhanced browsing experiences? To predict this, we should talk about the hardware and devices that will be viewing websites in the coming decades. First, in order to understand and predict the future of web design, we must look to the past.
The best technology and hardware companies are able to identify seemingly unrelated services or technologies and bring them together under one unified experience. Apple is great at this, particularly back in the early days of the iPhone under Steve Jobs’ leadership.
Without wanting to tangent off into the history of the iPhone, it is important to understand that back in 2007, mp3 players were nothing new. Neither was mobile internet access and having a mobile phone. However, Apple was able to unify existing technologies such as touch screen technology, iPod and maps integration, a high-quality camera and best-in-class accessibility features. All of these things combined redefined what a mobile phone was, and was arguably one of the first accessible and viable smartphones ever created.
The point is that these technologies already existed from a hardware perspective, but most implementations of cameras and music players were buggy, slow, and had terrible interfaces. Apple effectively implemented the same technologies that had already existed but put them into accessible and easy-to-use devices.
We are currently at a time where many great individual technologies exist, but there isn’t a unified ‘smart’ device yet combining them all together. We think with the likes of GPT and wearable tech, we could be on the verge of something paradigm-shifting that transforms the way we use the web, and access data in general.
Similar to when Apple combined Maps, iPod, Internet Communication and a mobile phone, what individual technologies exist today that are just waiting to be combined together?
Tech that currently exists:
- LLMs such as ChatGPT
- Voice-activated virtual assistants
- AR (Augmented Reality) software combined with Maps
- High-resolution VR headsets
- Mixed-reality headsets
- Haptic feedback wearable sensors
- Motion & gesture controls
Predicted tech within the next decade:
- Biochip implants with numerous features
- Smart glasses (AR/MR integrated)
- GPT Personal Assistant
- AGI powered services
As you can see there are plenty of technologies and software that exist already that have the potential to dramatically improve access to data in a fast and convenient way. Will devices in the next decade move from being smart devices to AGI devices? We think it’s just a matter of time before the likes of Siri are either replaced or dramatically reworked with an emphasis on improved AI, and eventually AGI.
Smart Wearables & Augmented Experiences
Remember the Terminator movie where Arnold Schwarzenegger’s character had a visual overlay that augmented the real world with an information display? Well, we really aren’t too far away from that visual technology being possible in the real world. Sound far-fetched? Let me explain. ChatGPT has recently revealed multimodal support, meaning that GPT can now effectively see, hear, and speak.
Currently, ChatGPT is able to identify objects in images, and then advise based on what you are asking, and what it is seeing. It’s only a matter of time before this will be able to run in a real-time setting on a dedicated device, even making use of AR to insert helpful tips into the real-world environment. This device could be something similar to what Google Glass offered. Would these smart glasses have failed if they were released today with GPT 4 integration? It’s interesting to think about.
LLM AI Voice Assistants
Until recently, there hasn’t been any way to allow ChatGPT to provide answers with any understanding about the user, their personality, or preferences. Questions are asked by the user each time without GPT having any further context or history to use as a basis to form subsequent answers. This has recently changed with the first small step to personalised AI assistant functionality where the AI answers based on an understanding of your likes, interests and work. This has been introduced as ‘Custom Instructions’ with the text — “What would you like ChatGPT to know about you to provide better responses?”.
Once AI begins to remember personal schedules, preferences, sleep patterns and general tastes in music and entertainment, it will be able to tailor responses more effectively to each individual user. This information can benefit the user by a GPT functionality being integrated into smart wearables, smartphones and more. This will transform what virtual assistants are, and what they can do. These will be ‘smart assistants’ and will transform many areas of our lives such as
- Replacing voice mail services
- Automating personal macros
- Highly relevant advertising
- Accurate / tailored health tracking
- Relevant dynamic suggestions
How Will This Affect Future Websites?
Once these types of devices and wearables are more commonplace, it will likely force businesses to rethink what exactly a website is, and what they can offer. Websites as we know them today became useful due to the methods of web access needed, the devices being used to access them, and the ability to provide information to the user directly. Now that we have more intelligent and smart devices, the future of web design looks quite different. It’s reasonable to expect more users to rely entirely on AI to fetch the data on the user’s behalf once new smart assistants are integrated at an OS level. We’ve now also grown to accept and expect a certain type of digital storefront that acts as a window into a product, service, or business. Could this eventually lead to more business MR or AR experiences?
Rather than actually having to go out and seek the data yourself (as we do now) by visiting websites, it isn’t too hard to imagine AI or AGI-powered assistants that understand your individual needs after gathering relevant data from you and your interests. Let’s think of the reasons that we might want to browse the internet currently in our spare time, you might search for local cinema times online. Then, once on the cinema website, you’ll look for films that match your availability and also your genre preference. Now with an AGI assistant, you could voice a request asking for suggestions for movies that match your preference showing at 6pm. Your AGI assistant will understand your history of preferences, and advise accordingly based on the understanding of your preference for action and horror movies. Future websites may take on the primary role of being databases that AI can access in order to accurately serve their users relevant and timely data.
This would mean that websites will still be important, but rather than just being optimised for visual flair and SEO, they would be also optimised for AI assistants, and serving such enquiries.
If — and it’s a big if — smart wearables similar to Google Glass take off in the future, we could also see a number of new augmented snippets displayed in front of businesses. We could also see a new representation of web search yet again using augmented reality to display products or services on top of a local map based on your AI’s understanding of your interests. This may lead to an increase in micro-content and AR data snippets that are able to convey more with less due to the power of AR. As we mentioned previously, the technology already exists to make this possible, it’s just a case of putting it together into one user-friendly and accessible package. It’s interesting to wonder how Google Glass would be received today if it was released with a slimmer design and GPT integration.
Pokemon GO is a good example of how some companies are using AR to provide well-integrated experiences with dynamic animated elements.
Does this mean traditional websites will become obsolete? Absolutely not, we just think that there will be additional online channels for businesses to market themselves, and reach their customers online. In terms of how these future technologies may impact legacy websites, it will be yet another form-factor to optimise and provide support for depending on the digital landscape at the time. It has been obvious for some time that attention spans are shorter than ever so optimising for micro-AR snippets could be worth pursuing for businesses in the not-too-distant future.
The Future of Web Design — the Decade Ahead for Creators & Users
As we look to the future of web design during the next decade, we can expect to see more utilisation of artificial intelligence in both content creation and design. This will slowly decrease the incentive for manual browsing of sites that contain data-heavy pages as AI can do that work for the user (as long as it is connected to the internet). Of course, there will still be the need for human-created content in terms of articles and opinion pieces, but you can expect AI to at least assist the author in the process.
It will be interesting to see what effect, if any, Apple’s mixed reality headset has on website design, and interface design in the coming years. As mentioned earlier, Apple has a history of making accessible and easy-to-use interfaces and devices. This is also true for third-party developers that deliver apps on Apple’s platforms. We can imagine some great web design and graphic design tools that make use of Apple’s Vision Pro mixed-reality headset, making design and coding more accessible to more designers covering all skill levels. You can just imagine tools similar to Divi’s new page builder combined with a drag-and-drop mixed reality experience allowing for quick website concepts, and general design mockups.
Sadly we expect the initial impact of Apple’s Vision Pro to be somewhat minimal due to its hefty price point. Will developers want to build apps for it in large numbers if there aren’t many devices active relative to mobile phones, tablets and PCs?
The long-term impact of Apple’s Vision Pro may be more significant due to showing the potential of such devices which isn’t just a VR device, but a mixed-reality headset that supports AR experiences in addition to full VR.
In the years ahead, one area where we may see change sooner rather than later is improved chatbots becoming smarter and more useful. We’re already seeing chat agents that are much better than the ones we’ve used in previous years, but now with GPT and future iterations of such technology, it’s only a matter of time before we’re able to get 24/7 online customer support agents that are as good as humans at serving requests and solving problems.
We think the most exciting part of the future is in the area of AI, AGI and smart wearable devices. AR is also a technology that hasn’t seen as widespread utilisation as we would have expected. Will we see a revised Google Glass combining many of the latest and greatest technologies in the decade to come? Will the Apple Vision Pro surpass our expectations and change the way we interact with websites and online content?
Please let us know what you think about smart wearables, AI and AGI, and if AR experiences serve a purpose, or are just a gimmick. Drop us a comment and let us know your thoughts!