Predictions and hopes for 2005

As I noted last week, 2004 has been an interesting year for this site. It has also been one of the more -- if not the most -- exciting years for the web industry in general. I'm mainly thinking about the uptake of web standards and accessibility, and the move towards a healthier web browser ecosystem that has been accelerated with the release of Firefox 1.0.

So what is next year going to be like? Nobody knows for sure, but like many others, I've made a list that consists of things that I think will happen and some things that are less likely, but I really would like to see happen in 2005. Since I'm currently unable to predict the future with any accuracy, this is more of a wish list than predictions to be taken seriously.

Increased demand for web standards and accessibility

Clients having web standards and accessibility on their list of requirements become commonplace. I've already seen an increase in the number of clients asking for it, and I really can't see any reason for that not to continue. If anything, it will increase faster, making it hard for web standards savvy developers and designers to keep up with demand.

Firefox keeps marching on

Alternative browsers, led by Firefox, continue to steal back market share from Internet Explorer. As a result, sites that only work in IE are seen by the industry and by media as the sub-standard pieces of junk they are, and are subjected to public ridicule on the web, in newspapers, and in magazines, and maybe even on TV. Think Leno or Letterman.

Use of Macromedia Flash grows up

More people use Flash in a sensible and mature way, and Flash-only sites become a rare curiosity. Flash is used to add a bit of non-essential spice, or for applications that aren't possible with HTML and CSS alone.

sIFR backlash

Typography-starved web designers go crazy with their new toy, sIFR, and use it for everything. The resulting slow-loading sites look like flyers from the desktop revolution in the late eighties because of their use of at least ten different fonts. Only this time, the text is anti-aliased. As more people install ad blockers, site owners will get complaints about missing headings and text. By the end of the year, sIFR gets mentioned in the same sentence as <marquee>, <blink>, and Java applets.

This is a great shame, because sIFR is brilliant and can be used well.

Update (2005-01-02): Mike Davidson has informed me that a solution to the ad blocking problem has been found and will be included in sIFR 2.0.

Screen reading for the masses

With Mac OS X 10.4, a.k.a. Tiger, Apple brings a cheap (as in included in the OS) screen reader to the masses: VoiceOver. The masses of Mac users, that is. This makes it much easier for Mac using web professionals to actually test the accessibility of the sites they build. If the rumours of Apple releasing a cheap, headless Mac are true, every serious web professional should buy themselves a Mac in 2005 anyway.

More JavaScript

JavaScript starts being called by its modern name, ECMAScript, and sees increased usage on sites built by professional developers that are aware of web standards and accessibility. However, this time around it will be used to increase usability without decreasing accessibility, not to decrease both usability and accessibility, as was very popular during the dotcom era. JavaScript will also be used more to make up for Internet Explorer's lack of support for CSS.

IE5 joins Netscape 4

Internet Explorer 5, both Mac and Windows versions, start getting the Netscape 4 treatment: no CSS. Not on all sites, of course, but on sites where IE5 usage is low. Some have already started doing so, and others are considering it.

Usability is here to stay

Uncluttered, usable, accessible, and readable web design is here to stay. No matter what some obsessively creative types say or think, if reading a site's content is too much of a hassle, people will go elsewhere. We're not going back to DHTML scrollers, 9px type, light grey text on white backgrounds, flyout menus or other abominations any time soon.

The hacks find other jobs

Web developers and designers who refuse to learn HTML and CSS properly start looking for jobs in other businesses, like fast food or public transport. Web agencies who still employ these hacks go out of business.

I get to make a difference

I get flooded by requests to help out with standards-based redesigns of major websites, and to teach web standards and accessibility to fellow web professionals.

I buy a house

If I can somehow start making (or win, or find) enough money to be able to afford one, my girlfriend and I will buy a house. Occasionally I will be mowing the lawn or shuffling snow off the driveway instead of writing articles or aimlessly surfing the web.

More traffic comes this way

Finally, I hope next year's traffic graph for 456 Berea Street looks something like this year's:

traffic graph illustrating that the number of monthly visits to 456 Berea Street has increased by almost 1500 percent during 2004

Happy New 2005!

Posted on December 31, 2004 in Web General