The Web is Different
Submitted by Ankur Sethi (@s3thi) on Wednesday, 6 June 2018
From floppy drives to CD-ROMs to the App Store, over the years we’ve used many ways to get our applications into our users’ hands. Out of all these application delivery methods, the Web is the most ubiquitous and unique. What makes it so different? How can you, as a product designer or a business, play to its strengths? And where does it fall flat?
Let’s take a closer look at features of the Web platform that make it different from native platforms, and see some examples of how to use them effectively.
The Web started as a technology for sharing simple textual documents over the network. Today, it has turned into a full-featured application development platform that supports complex typography, images, videos, 3D graphics, audio playback and synthesis, and even virtual reality. How did we get here? More importantly, how does the Web’s unique heritage make it different from other ways of building and delivering applications?
This talk is divided into two parts. In the first part, we go back in time and look at some of the major milestones in the evolution of the Web browser that allowed it to transform from a simple document viewer to a platform for building full-fledged applications.
In the second part, we take a look at some unique features of the Web platform that make developing, designing, and conducting business on it starkly different from doing so on native platforms. A few of the things we will talk about are:
- URLs, and what they mean for virality and discoverability
- Separation of content, presentation, and logic, and how that allows users to extend and modify existing applications
- On-demand code delivery, and how that makes getting your applications into the hands of your users completely frictionless
- Responsive design, and how that lets Web applications respond to their environments
- How browsers put users before businesses and developers, and what that means for your applications
- How the Web’s open and forgiving nature makes it the most democratic platform in existence
- What the Web can’t (or won’t!) do, and why
By understanding why and how developing for the Web is different, we can learn how to build applications that are not only good citizens of the Web, but also attract and retain users in large numbers.