Trends 2018: Technology, Development, Design

2018 is approaching, it’s time to analyse and sum up the latest advancements in technology, web-development, and design. The trends in IT are changing rapidly and you must continually review your approaches and techniques or you can be considered old.

I studied the progress we’ve had this year and want to share it with you, including what I see of the future. This information will be useful if you work in an IT enterprise, deal with design, development or make major decisions for your company. Here are my predictions of what is going to rock.

 

Technology

 

It was only ten years ago when Apple released iPhone and it was a revolutionary moment for technological advancements. Since then,  we're facing waves of evolution trends..

Internet of Things (IoT) took little time to spread all over the world and change our perception of nearly all spheres of life. In a few years, the number of devices will raise to dozens of billions. It’s a rapid-growing area which has no limits to what it’s capable of. What to expect from IoT in 2018? Apart from phones, watches, and tablets, there will be apparent advancements in Consumer Devices, Healthcare,  and Security.

 

The new IoT is the frontier everybody talks about: this challenges to create useful applications for everyday uses. And communication networks of course. When this happens, we can also offer additional services that smooth down the fears of loss of labour replaced by machines. All this requires entrepreneurial capabilities, financial funds, IT competences.


Luca Orselli Consulting
Representative in Italy at SCHNEIDER GROUP

 

Consumer devices are going to improve. Although most of them are standalone products and don’t sync with others, some AI voice systems like Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa are trying to make changes. In 2018 we expect to see platforms combining many individual services into a comprehensive ecosystem. It's likely to be effectively deployed in transportation. The industry has much opportunities to utilize IoT ecosystems to increase efficiency, improve safety, and decrease costs, with changes like:

  • single system for ticket purchase and verification via wireless readers;
  • voice-based direction for the blind in subway stations;
  • available public and private parking spots via mobile apps in real-time;
  • replacement of toll booths with ORT;
  • use of Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) instead of cash.

According to Business Insider's Intelligence report, IoT will expand the range and number of personalized devices. In 2016 there were 6.6 billion devices. By 2021 there will be 22.5 billion devices – that’s 3.4 times more.

 

Healthcare will be reshaped in some way, making it easier for people to access healthcare services and pay for corresponding services. Since wearable devices are getting more affordable, apps that help you monitor your heartbeat, level of sugar or stress will contribute to this expansion.

Doctor-patient interactions will improve. Knowing  that patients can forget or ignore doctor's notifications, there must be an innovative way to deliver medicine. A tiny chip by Microchip Biotech helps people with chronic diseases to take precise doses of prescribed drugs for up to 16 years. The chip is put under the skin,  doesn't need to be removed andoctors can adjust doses and timing remotely.

 

 

Security will be defined by the growth of systems complexity and of decentralized computing. Interconnection of systems usually leads to gaps in personal data protection and cyber attacks are better and more  frequent. Data leaks are a top discussed topic on the web. Before launching some new products, we must make good analysis so the data breaches are secured and the vulnerable spots are hidden.

2018 is going to be a gold mine for cyber attacks as users tend to keep their personal data online, including credit card information. What is not a theory, but a fact is that CaaS – Crime as a Service – is proliferating in the Dark Web. CaaS is when a group of tech-criminals develop harmful software to distribute it as a product. This is affecting the overall crime world as it eases cyber attacks for inexperienced users. Most popular services of the kind include: phishing tools, malware, and vulnerability exploitation tools. What are the precautions to take?
 

  1. Use antivirus that has phishing detection features, and create a whitelist of authorities who should be trusted.
  2. Create a strategy for the case your enterprise gets a cyber attack. Separate the network so that malware can’t spread across your system fast. Backup your data regularly and use two-factor authentication for your online accounts.
  3. Update your software as often as possible, but don't use auto updates. Read updates info for knowing benefits, bugs and breaches beforehand.

It’s not only people who can threaten security, though. Human creations are as dangerous as those who create them. Think about this: when a car is designed, it takes various safety tests since it's what customers expect most – that a car is safe. And not only a car, any product out there must be safe. If not, it can damage both customers and the company, just like it happened to explosive Samsung Note 7. Making AI safe for people is no different.


Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking have already expressed their concerns regarding the hypothetical threat coming from the AI. But here I’m not talking about a doomsday scenario where superintelligent takes over the mankind. Face some real cases:

  • An AI-enhanced Tesla car confused a white truck with the clear sky. It caused an accident and proved that AI couldn't adapt to its surrounding.
  • Tay, an artificial chatbot developed by Mircosoft, was meant to simulate the manner of communication of a 19-year old American girl on Twitter. Eventually, it started posting offensive and provocative tweets and was shut down after 16 hours.

I believe cases like these show there’s much work to be done before making any sort of announcements about integrating AI into the situation where it can cause harm. And I'm not alone,  Forrester Research predicts that 2018 will be the year of acknowledging how much work is yet to be done with AI. We are to improve how it should work, with better interfaces to help machines and humans collaborate.

Voice-controlled interfaces to analyze data is going to be a major AI trend of 2018. Instead of setting complicated filters, lists, and queries manually, you can gather your results and display them using voice instructions. Hopefully, it will become an ordinary thing for many analytical apps.

Regarding the business part, AI will become a more influential part of decision-making. 20% of businesses will utilize AI to suggest decisions and give real-time instructions.

 

 

As for making AI more people-oriented, systems that use AI are going to evolve so  users, customers, patients, and others can embrace it.This boils down to the decent user experience. Understanding how we interact with some system can create a more positive user journey and classify both strong and weak points. AI will be able to suggest a solution but it often appears that there's no need in AI – simplification of the process always works.

Cryptocurrency is going to a point where it may influence big economies and enterprise, including some of Big Four. Two of most powerful tech giants are already making their moves towards it.  

Amazon registered three domains whose names hint us at what this all might be about: amazonethereum.com, amazoncryptocurrency.com, and amazoncryptocurrencies.com, according to Domain Name Wire. These aren't the only moves by Amazon, though. Amazonbitcoin.com has been out since 2013, but there've been no official announcements about it so far.

Microsoft also keeps its technologies up-to-date. They are using BaaS by Azure to create blockchains. BaaS – Blockchain as a Service – allows people to create blockchains without many efforts. Currently, it is possible to try out private, public, restricted and consortium blockchains.

 

Blockchain could be applied to many existing services in the future. Although the technology is in very green stage, and facing scaling challenges, and making a lot of "noise" around, the strongest and most viable startups will survive and establish the new so-called "trust economy" and if they will be executed right and if they will be approved by the market, they could replace most of the major players for industries in the future like finance, insurance, stock exchange, trading, procurement management, sensitive databases, healthcare, intelligence etc.

Zigmars Rozentals
True-Fi Product owner at Sonarworks
@Rozentals

 

Cryptocurrencies have a controversial status in big economies. Although most countries acknowledge bitcoin as a legal thing, nobody seems to be using it daily, and may take a long time for it, because the governments have no real control of it. This creates serious uncomfort for them, as what they what is to have control. The US and South Korea have already expressed their interest in managing cryptocurrencies while India has gone even further.

ICOs that operate in India without any regulation are at risk of shutting down. The Indian government is trying to control and supervise the flow of bitcoin and how it affects Indian economy. Moreover, to take over the cryptocurrency market in India, the government is going to launch their own cryptocurrency – Laxmi.

 

Big Data is a concept that many have heard about, but that is often underestimated.   

'Every 2 Days We Create As Much Information As We Did Up To 2003'

Eric Schmidt
Executive Chairman at Google

To let enterprise make decisions in advance rather than post-factum, we must utilize big data to its most. In that way, we will be able to understand historical data better and draw real-time conclusions. Since companies turn themselves into tech-operated ones, the vitality of data means enterprises are supposed to accustom to the following:

  • each step of analytics must use a specific tool and method;
  • it's essential to have experts competent at using those tools and methods in a team.

When there are huge amounts of data, there are concerns about privacy. Governments tend to approve laws that put more responsibility for data on customers. Therefore, consumers are becoming more aware of privacy laws and their status as consumers.  I believe that consumers are due to have more control over their private data in 2018. This will inevitably lead to major changes in analytics, the structure of marketing campaigns, and big data research.

What you can do now is to start building trustworthy relations with your customers offering them more transparent information regarding which of their data you might use. Make sure you never compromise the data. When possible use double-opt.

Be ready to adjust the way you work and live to these latest developments for the time when all this becomes massively implemented. Those are the big changes that will influence the way you and I live. Knowing what’s coming is power. IoT, AI, and Big Data will eventually become inevitable for any kind of business. We need to understand the potential threats and how to give it as great products and services to our clients.  

 

Development

 

Web development is a changing faster than Flash can run. What is cool today might become the thing of the past tomorrow. Users are getting smarter thus more demandable to the web services and apps, so business must shift the tools they use to accord with the latest trends. Here are most promising trends of web development are the reason for their prospering.

JavaScript is the fastest-trending programming language of 2017, and its popularity is continually growing. Web-development has evolved beyond just the boundaries of the Web. Since cross-platform integration and the ease of implementing such project are valued most, JavaScript is on the right way. Other reasons why it’s going to rule the following year are:

  • Easy to learn. Programming-related openings appear every day as the demand for corresponding professionals. JavaScript is easier than Java, Swift other languages.
  • Node.js. An easy-to-use JavaScript runtime that is used to create scalable web apps. It works asynchronously which means it can run various lines of code without waiting to each of the previous one to finish. Basically, it compiles the JavaScript code into a machine code. Because of Node.js’s usefulness, JavaScript is a must in the future of web development. It is used by IMB, Google, and Netflix.
  • ReactJS. It’s a JavaScript library developed by Facebook that lets programmers built user interfaces for SPAs. React uses declarative views to update only those parts of DOM (Document Object Model) that have been changed. You write some components of the code and React utilizes those components in your app. It uses JSX that allows you to build complete components which you are reusable in other apps.  React is used by many major enterprises like Uber, Netflix, Paypal etc. According to a 2017 research by StackOverflow, 67% of devs love React. Its mobile counterpart is React Native, another software development trend of 2018 and the reason why JavaScript is popular.

React Native is a framework that uses JavaScript and React to build cross-platform mobile apps, which can run just as smoothly as those built originally in Java or Objective-C. For instance, React Native doesn’t use HTML to render apps, and animation is different from the one you got used to using CSS. React Native already has many APIs and components for all purposes.

React Native pros include:

  • Use of native UI blocks – it eases the interaction of users with the application
  • Asynchronical background flow of JavaScript
  • Apps looks equally great on any platform
  • Less CPU consumption

With the constant improvement of JavaScript components, it will be used in web development for a long time. But if you’re a newcomer to programming, don’t rush learning JavaScript right away, as it’s not the only important thing in the following year.

PHP remains a popular pick for backend development. Especially, after the release of version 7.2.0, PHP includes: the ability to use Argon2 for as a security alternative to the Bcrypth; built-in Sodium library; Parameter Type Widening; Argument and Object return type declarations. What else explains its worldwide recognition is the set of frameworks it has to offer.

PHP includes frameworks that help developers create stable websites and apps using little time and resources. Such frameworks include Codelgniter, Symfony, Symfony2, Yii, and Laravel. The latter stands out among the others.

 

Despite a great variety of tools for web development, there are too many poor-quality web-apps out there. Why so? Low barriers to entry in PHP attract many newcomers. They tend to ignore the basics. There’s a massive set of functions that stand apart from frameworks. The lack of this knowledge leads to low-quality work. As a result, the enterprise trust neither the developers nor that they can generate income for the company.

Aleksey Savchenko

Senior backend developer at LENAL

 

Laravel  is an open source PHP framework that help design web apps easily using a wide range of tools and features. Since there are other PHP frameworks, I must explain why Laravel is the favor for web development. A few reasons are:

  • It supports MVC Architecture. Laravel is formed on model-view-controller architecture (MVC), that includes many features that improve app performance and presents a clear documentation.
  • Artisan Console. It allows performing some boring and routine tasks that most programmer hate so much. Moreover, developers can create their own commands to create database structures, system or a skeleton code.
  • Built-in libraries.  Object Oriented libraries can be used to create fast-responsive and modular apps.
  • Websocket’s support. Allows to create truly interactive apps.
  • Laravel's code stands separately from developer's code. Therefore, each component is easy to expand.
     

Because of the constantly-growing interest to this particular framework, it’s said to be evolving even more rapidly. The new version of PHP is scheduled for release in mid-2018, while Laravel 5.6 is going to be out in February 2018.

 

Future of businesses that provide services is going to develop even further in 2018. We already see the shift from consulting sales towards expertise opinion leaders. This will continue to form the market. Just think about it. Today, when you need a service provider, you would most likely consider an expert that has the most specific experience in your exact request. Whether it’s a mobile development of a geolocation app or an interior designer with nordic style cases in his portfolio, it must be an expert. Standing out has never been so important, as there always will be a flourishing demand for modern service sectors along with growing competition.
Creating a wow effect and developing a customer journey are the elements you should be including into your operational flow right now!

Mariia Tintul

International Business Development Director at LENAL

 

So if you want to stay up-to-date in the world of web development, I suggest you focus on using JavaScript and particularly React Native. The number of mobile traffic and use has already surpassed computers, so keep your pace with the times. If you deal more with the server side and use PHP, stay tuned for latest Laravel improvemen.

 

DESIGN

 

Good design is the first thing you can use to engage your users to keep on using your service. Design trends often seem like a loop with a repeated history.  Sometimes it's brand-new concepts, related to the latest tech developments. Here are my Yes and No compilation for 2018 in UI/UX, and Typography.

UI/UX

Hamburger Menu – No

Hamburger menus are a popular trend. It's handy, convenient to use, and everybody's already familiar with it. Surprisingly, some companies are replacing it with alternatives. This happens because of two reasons: Hamburgers aren't convenient for discovering; they aren't always needed, thus the need for alternatives.

We are likely to observe more specific menus for each company that will fit their users' demands. A great example of such is the new Spotify menu bar. They replaced the old hamburger menu and introduced a bottom-placed menu with tab navigation.

Although the content of both menus is identical, they found out that the new menu increases navigation menu clicks by 30%. It seems that 2018 is the year of better solutions regarding navigation.  

 

Above the fold – No

Above the fold is a general opinion that it's crucial to put the most relevant message within the 60% of the top page because users are unlike to scroll down to find out more.

Well, this’s so not true. Scrolling is as common as any other action. Users are more adapted to new techs. When Apple noticed that scrolling is just as OK as swiping and double tapping for zooming, they removed the scrollbar from macOS. Users don't need it anymore to navigate on a page. You might have even not noticed it. If your users don't scroll, it must be because the content is irrelevant and they're not engaged to continue interacting with your page or app.

Emphasize engaging content and its usefulness instead of stuffing the upper 600px with yelling CTAs and logos.

Omnichannel UX – Yes

Much is obvious about the dominance of mobile over desktop. It's indeed growing in use, but I believe we mustn’t overestimate it. Or to be more precise, we mustn't underestimate other devices. Cross-platform integration is urging the tech industry to create more devices and apps that are compatible with the other to bring the best user experience.

Omnichannel experience is the one that includes completing an interaction using various devices. Such a thing originates from the fact that users don't really bother about how an interaction should be done or where it takes place. That's why the device used to achieve a goal isn't of primary importance. Such experience must be about the interaction itself, not the device.

Omnichannel UX makes it possible for users to use any product regardless of the device, and moreover, use more than one. A great example of such experience is how Amazon Echo lets you order a Dominos. You can ask Alexa to order a pizza and then confirm the order on your iPhone. Such experience combines using products of two different makes, with different interfaces but the overall impression is positive.

It doesn't mean there will be brand-new ecosystems for all purposes, but the focus on dynamic and transitive experience is definitely going to be present in 2018.

Full-screen videos – Yes

Pictures are now more powerful message-conveyors than words, but videos tell stories without making users scroll or search.

Full-screen videos are now a fresh way of engaging users. Many enterprises have already integrated full-screen videos into their pages. The reason is that such layouts are dynamic – and dynamism leads to engagement. Check out some examples of pages with full-screen videos. It's a great solution if you have a single-page site. Videos tell more about your products or services, and they create memorable images for users.

Gradient – Yes

Rejoice, designers. The era of gradients and bright colors is back. Do you remember how Instagram changed its logo in 2016? No more old-school icon depicting a camera, but a colorful gradient logo that creates warm feelings.

Two-three hue gradients enhanced by some graphic elements can be a great eye-catcher in the upcoming year. And it's not about only main pages. Using this technique for illustrations, fonts, and backgrounds will certainly make your product more engaging rather than when using only flat, pastel colors.

Animation – Yes

Animation isn't just a bald UI component. 2017 defined a reloading window without some animation as poor design. Animated interactions can turn a boring check-out process into an appealing interaction. The main change of 2018 is that animations are no longer going to be used for fun but for usefulness. Now that most browsers have better support for animations, be sure to observe them even more.

 

 

Designers in 2018 aren’t relevant to the business if they don’t basics analytics, copywriting, and marketing. Unless you can thoroughly understand product’s logic, you are no designer, but a sketch artist. Designer’s task is to create a solution that can satisfy the enterprise and please its customers. It’s always harder than may seem. Luckily, there are so many relevant trends of 2018 to help us – cinematography, flat design, 3D and so on. It’s all about if you are ready to use all of them.

Yulia Savelieva

Head of Art at LENAL

 

Typography

Big, bold fonts – Yes

Large text size can increase your engagement rate as it’s extremely eye-catching. This is vital for mobile apps. While pictures are difficult to process, increasing the font size won’t affect the overall performance of an app. Opt for expressive fonts. They will help you create a more define layout with enough space in the background to fill it with something useful, like CTAs and logos.

Helvetica – No

There’s been too much hype about this font, even a film. Some consider it as an always-in-trend font, but I believe it’s completely overused and monotonous. Search for better alternatives if you want to stand out.

 

Overlaying – Yes

Set the images to overlay on text to create unique landing. This is a rather new practice, so if you implement it now, your product will trend.

If you don’t have resources to implement all the described ideas, I suggest you focus on full-screen video and fonts. There are huge stocks of 4K videos for all sorts of businesses, and fonts aren’t difficult to change. It will take you the least time and money. The positive results, however, will come quickly.  

 

What’s next?

Start implementing new ideas. As long as you use some of them, your business will improve your customer journey, simplify internal processes and increase conversions. I recommend you to focus on what your resources allow you to do. After all, remember that trends change fast.

 

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