iPad and the future of the Web

April 2, 2010

Yesterday, I read the following from a Google group:

MacWorld has an article, “Apple reveals its list of ‘iPad-ready’ Websites.”  The article brought some interesting questions to mind:

  • What do you all think about the difficulty of upgrading websites that use Flash, to a more iPad friendly HTML5 + CSS + Javascript?
  • Does upgrading mean that the design of the website must change?
  • Is there a design-process for taking a UI developed in Flash and converting it into HTMl5 + CSS + Javascript?
  • What does this mean for local (Florida) sales/marketing sites that are Flash heavy?  Should they move to become more iPad friendly HTML5 + CSS + Javascript?
  • Will they be judged by potential clients, as being inferior, if their site appears broken on the iPad?

I think there is a much bigger question than just making sure things work on the iPad. If you follow Web standards thinking, I think we are hitting a point when we need to consider how anyone is accessing the Internet. Much more is happening through mobile and other devices such as the iPad. I am not so sure it is a good thing to move in the direction of proprietary development. PPK addressed this on his blog in February with the obsession he has seen with the iPhone.

If we embrace the fundamentals behind Web standards, then I think we owe it to our clients to educate them to the broader issues. iPhone is still a small percentage of the overall mobile market and smart phone market. How widespread will iPad really be? I think it is unwise as a business decision to not look at how to deliver the best experience over the wide-range of Internet devices that now exist and will only continue to broaden in scope in the years ahead.

I think as Web professionals, we need to be looking for innovative solutions like Video for Everybody. This HTML embeds HTML5 video into a site with fall backs to QT and then Flash. This solution may not be perfect yet but I like the idea of a solution that offers options, if one video solution does not work–fall back to another and so on.

I think that companies that rely heavily on Flash need to rethink their strategy. Those solutions just don’t work well throughout the spectrum of devices and do not really consider the context for mobile use. There have been plenty of posts since the announcement of the iPad that have reexamined the short comings of Flash and have called for new solutions. (Zeldman and Jeff Croft)

I think Web sites will be judged by whether they work across the spectrum because there will always be users on different platforms. To be honest, I am not a huge fan of browsing on my iPhone because  sites do not really work well with that platform unless the designer/developer has made it more iPhone friendly. But again, I think that same thinking needs to consider other Smart phones and devices.

The reality is that developing for the Web continues to be complex and continues to throw new problems at Web professionals that need new solutions. Let us embrace the challenge. That is part of the thrill of being in this industry. There is always some new facet to explore and new problem to solve. I hope that we respond by embracing the challenge and using our skills and talents to meet these new challenges with great solutions. Yes it means more development time and that we have to have a greater breadth of knowledge, but to move forward we need to embrace this reality and use the same passion we have in the past to make great Web experiences.

1 Comment

  1. dennis

    April 2nd, 2010

    You raise some great points. I am aligned to your thinking that sites should consider the spectrum of devices that will be used to view your content. If predictions come true more than 60% internet viewing will be from mobile devices. So it stands to reason you have to weight that reality when preparing content to be shared.