Trust simplicity. For a variety of reasons, this past year taught me that simple wins over complex time and time again. This was especially true in interactive, where advances in browser technology allowed for significantly simplified development. As I strive to build more immersive and compelling experiences for our client’s products, the simple solution is most often the best.
2011 was the year of native in interactive development. Native browser features such as video, animation, and offline storage led the charge to dethrone flash. These features are often bundled under the term HTML5 and remove the need to maintain individual third-party plugins. You don't need flash player 12.3.6, real audio or silverlight. These changes also mean we can bring you more impressive interactive experiences with a shorter development cycle. We can implement a drop-shadow with a single line of code. We can transform a flat layout into eye-catching animation. We can even build interactive games that rival native devices and consoles. Native features help developers utilize the interactive nature of the web in fresh ways. Instead of a vast array of platform and feature-specific tools, we now have a single core providing all of this functionality. In short, native is simple.
Improvements in CSS and web fonts have also drastically simplified the development process. Developers can now do major copy changes and 3D graphic effects without getting a designer involved. For example, in the past the web was restricted to a few core fonts that major browser vendors agreed to package. However, if a designer wanted to get creative beyond those fonts, the text would have to be saved out as an image or utilize an ugly flash script. Both options increased load times and decreased usability. Today, solutions like TypeKit and FontDeck give designers thousands of fonts. These solutions aren’t yet perfect, but they are a vast improvement over sIFR.
2011 proved yet again that simple wins over time. HTML5 has helped browsers pull functionality from the complexity of flash and give it to developers in an integrated, radically simplified manner. Looking ahead, I can start to see how this maxim will apply itself again, this time in the mobile realm. The advances in HTML5 that made native such a success in 2011 work on your iPhone browser as well as they do on your desktop. Where in the past a desktop experience built in flash would require a completely separate mobile experience, today a single one can serve both mediums. This can cut costs and increase the reach of a single campaign. 2011 saw the proliferation of native browser features highlighted in desktop experiences. Next year the focus will be on utilizing these advances in ways that transcend the traditional desktop, unifying it with the ever-expanding collection of mobile devices. Greater reach, more immersive experiences, yet simpler development. Simple wins.
Do you have any thoughts on the evolution of HTML5 and the simple web? Leave them in the comments below.