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Is the future of the web text-centric?

I've been thinking a lot recently about how... well... I just don't really like the Internet right now. The constant bombardments of ads, rich media content like auto-playing videos and constant social media pressure causes the Internet to be an honest chore to navigate. We can all agree that especially the mobile web experience is severely obtuse right now. There's such an importance placed on responsive design and yet our modern web design philosophies seem to work directly to the contrary.

Additionally, the overly data-heavy modern web is completely biased toward developed countries and high-powered devices. In countries where expensive devices and data plans are impossible to afford, Internet-enabled feature phones are barely able to keep up. Some hundred million new Internet users are making their first steps online into a connected world that is already 20 years ahead.

Finally, the P2P distributed web keeps growing in both conceptual importance and usability despite bandwidth bottlenecks and other technical limitations.

A few questions

Here are some theoretical questions borne from the cluttered nature of modern websites:

  • Is it viable to continue to adapt modern web philosophies from 240PX-width feature phones to 1080p monitors to 4K TVs?
  • Is it viable to create UX that adapts from mouse and keyboard to T9 to screen-readers and more?
  • Should websites look completely different between mobile and desktop layouts?
  • How much "in the way" is really acceptable (in-line images, PIP videos, pop-up ads)?

A path forward inspired by the past

In my opinion the solution to many of these problems is a shift away from a media-first Internet to small, low-bandwidth, lightning fast text-first websites. In fact, the trend among many developers and websites these days is largely text-content first. Text-based websites are fast, automatically flexible, easy to develop and maintain and force you to be creative.

  • Modern styling options mean that text can be beautiful and unique
  • Text is infinitely scalable with no loss of quality
  • Adapting text content to various screen sizes takes almost no work at all
  • Text content loads quickly

This is my take on the future of the web. I believe we'll see more websites, especially personal sites, moving away from huge frameworks with bright colours and flashing images and more toward simple layouts and text-centric content approaches. This will definitely change the way I develop sites, but how about you? What's your vision for the modern web going forward?

Top comments (1)

moopet profile image
Ben Sinclair

This would be good. If it brought back the dream of the semantic web at the same time rather than using a zillion microformats, all the better.