You don’t have to be a prophet to foresee what’s coming up in 2009 and beyond. Why? Most of the future web trends are already unfolding. For others the foundations are laid by hardware, web infrastructure and the broader economy.
This is a collection of 30 web trends for 2009 in the realms of
- web design
- search and SEO
- social media and blogging
Obsessing about forms
While for years we have seen galleries and top lists showing off homepages, lately there is a trend of best of comment form or search form design. We’ll see more of it 2009. I predict whole websites only dealing with forms. Usability and marketing experts and even books like Web Design for ROI have stressed the importance of proper form design.
Internet Explorer 6 support
With the market share of IE6 finally below 20% more sites will stop supporting it which will result in even more people switching due to experiencing problems with it. This will make way for overdue developments in website design which were previously unsupported.
Light weight websites
Light weight small website designs will return. With the huge success of netbooks and smartphones websites will become smaller again both in pixel and byte size as not everybody will want to create several versions for each viewer, even with different stylesheets.
Search and SEO
Location based mobile search on smartphones like iPhone, BlackBerry Storm, Sony XPERIA, HTC HD but also more Google phones to come will change business. The proliferation of those mobiles will result in a critical mass. More people will search for the next bank or ATM, Chinese Restaurant or store selling a particular brand nearby.
While semantic search is slow to catch on and the attempts to implement have been far from perfect I’ve seen apps and methods often with SEO in mind using semantic technology. That is technology understanding the meaning instead of just counting words or links like Google, technology to bring about a significantly better user experience. It might be a search engine that soon everybody will add to hers or his site or another kind of add on. In 2009 this overdue development will finally get traction.
Rankings and PageRank
Rankings and PageRank will finally go the way of hits. Serious webmasters will care less and less for them and focus on real website success metrics.
The Google search monopoly will become even more apparent in more and more countries. Facing it the people will increasingly seek alternatives and as other search engines aren’t better turn to other ways of finding what they look for on the Web, mostly in social contexts like blogs, communities, social bookmarking and browsing services.
Shift from traditional advertising to search marketing
As TV and print advertising budgets will melt search marketing budgets will be stepped up to get measurable results and a clearly defined ROI beyond simple brand recognition.
Shift from PPC to organic SEO
People spending massive amounts for a while on PPC ads like Google Adwords will more often consider investing in long term organic SEO.
Google employees switching sides
The 10k “Permanent temps” who have been “downsized” at Google will switch sides and work both for SEO companies, Google competitors and come up with their own business ideas.
Value SEO vs SEO tricks
The value in SEO will outdo old school SEO tricks. Content creation, social networking and reputation building will be key more than ever. The tasks of SEO will shift from programming, website tweaking.
SEO criminals vs professionals
With the emergence of hacking blogs and websites “for SEO reasons” the black hats have crossed the line between cheating search engines and downright criminal behaviour. Whoever will want to be taken seriously as a SEO professional will have to deal with ethics.
Link popularity vs real popularity
Links will become less important for search engine algorithms. With more and more data coming in from personalization, SearchWiki, Google Chrome and Google Analytics etc., Google will lower the value of links to rank websites and based on real popularity with users instead.
Social Media and Blogging
While already in 2008 we’ve seen stagnation in user numbers on the major networks, we’ve seen plenty of new sites appear and get their share of users. The end is near though. Most users willing to use social web applications are already oversaturated. Second rate sites like Pownce or Me.Dium which already gave up or changed their business model will thus disappear.
Services on Top
While conventional time consuming social sites adding work load to it’s users won’t thrive anymore due to oversaturation more and more new services will have their break through that use the existing data and activity for it’s own apps. What does that mean? You won’t have to submit to Digg, you’ll become automatically popular on Microblogging Buzz or elsewhere due to tweeting. People won’t solely watch biased vote biased sites but the real activity on social networks.
Blogging a Must
While 2008 was still a year you had to convince people in business to blog in 2009 blogs will be standard and those not having one will simply fall behind. With social media and blogs being even on the forefront of a successful presidential campaign business owners who are just aware of the Internet solely offering storefronts and static pages full of corporate and sales gibberish will lose like McCain did.
Bloggers will organize
With the increasing professionalism, stress and bad pay as well the danger of being sued or even jailed for blogging, bloggers will start organizing and strike back.
Social media metrics
Relationship and social authority measurement will finally surface. Social media influence and success will become measurable and thus make short term tactic like link baiting less attractive than long term engagement. The technology has already been patented and several solutions are being prepared.
Ecommerce and online shopping will become more and more blogging and social media. Conventional online shops offering no way of socializing and feedback will fall behind.
We have permission, viral and inbound marketing already to name just a few ways of marketing without the in your face appearance of advertising. Still all those practices are nonetheless recognizable as marketing and thus sometimes annoying or unable to get the message through. In 2009 non-intrusive marketing will be more and more providing information you need, where and when you need it.
Combination of CRM, Web Analytics and SEO
Already services and apps like GoodBarry or DemandBase combine customer relationship management with web analytics and SEO. Business owners who won’t make the connection between those three will lose out on leads compared to their competition.
Social media strategy
While social media still is regarded by some new to it as the quick drop in and shout place most marketers have by now noticed that it does not work that way. Yes, instead of short sighted push tactics you need a long term social media strategy which pulls your customers and makes them embrace you for the value you offer.
Emerging markets that is non-US, Europe or Japan will finally be more lucrative than the good old western hemisphere. Due to the market crash, demographics and countries like India, China and Brazil catching up we’ll see products geared towards other audiences than “us”. Prepare new language versions for your site.
Online video will finally become the most important medium online like in real life where TV is more powerful than the print press. We’ve seen cameras sold for less than 100$ in 2008, new models only slightly more expensive already offer HD video. We have millions of people using those plus sites like YouTube and Vimeo sporting higher quality videos plus even MTV going online with their archives.
Webware and browser as OS
Both proprietary and open source desktop software will witness a further slump in popularity as browser based web apps and SaaS (software as a service) will become more common place. Offering downloadable software will become more difficult in a broadband environment. The browser will become a second OS with both web based applications and software being added as browser extensions.
Linux more popular
With Linux popular on Netbooks, a special Linux for Netbooks coming up, and other computer hardware sales going down by 50% Windows and Mac OS will both lose market share.
Cloud computing will change the way companies operate their networks with the introduction network computers like Pano.
Third party log ins like OpenID will finally overcome logging in 20 times a day.
Web users fed up with logging in everywhere anew will also embrace portable data solutions which enable them to access and “transport” data between different web services.
These 30 web trends for 2009 are not new for those who watch the web closely. You might not agree and some may not materialize or have their break through in 2009 already but most of these will at least have some impact next year.
In case I forgot something please add it. In case you disagree with one of the web trends for 2009 I predict please explain why.
What are your hopes for the new year beyond what you expect will happen anyway? What do you think do we need on the Web in 2009?