Since the humble beginning of the World Wide Web in 1969 when the first message was sent over ARPANET to today, the Web is ever changing. Crediting the invention of the internet to a single person is impossible — many different scientists and technology gurus contributed different elements to make it what it is today, taking the future of the web to heights still unseen.
When the internet first became accessible to the general public in the 80s, people needed to know some basic DOS coding and most of the information available was educational. Windows and Apple created systems making computer use more accessible and easier than ever before. By the 90s, AOL came on the scene. It allowed people to dial up to the internet and use a platform that was intuitive and simple.
The future of the web opens wide before us — but we can make a few predictions based on current technology and the past growth of the internet.
1. Load Times Disappear
Faster Internet connection speeds continue until pages load as quickly as television programming. In the next five years, expect even speedier connections, even in rural locations. This is thanks to advances such as 5G and installation of fiber optic cables. People’s patience for lag time is low, so expect both cable providers and cell phone carriers to focus on speed for the foreseeable future.
2. Better Accessibility
The future of the web opens up access to everyone in the United States. Researchers said around half of Americans were online in the early 2000s and about 90 percent are online today. Various programs making the Internet more affordable will bring the Internet to the remaining 10 percent. These people might live in low-income or rural areas.
While the Internet of Things (IoT) may remain more accessible to those living in urban centers, expect essential functions to improve in farming communities and other underserved areas.
3. Going Beyond Computers
Speaking of the IoT, expect the ways people access the internet to change in the future. The future of the Web isn’t tied into just a smartphone or a personal computer. It becomes accessible from all types of devices, including smart home features. We’ve already seen this shift with the use of Alexa and Google Home.
Expect growth of the IoT until people connect to the internet all day every day through a vast variety of devices that make life easier. Almost out of milk? No problem, your smart fridge goes online, orders the milk for you and pings you a message to pick up your weekly grocery order.
4. Cyber Attacks Increase
Last year, there were more than 2,216 data breaches and over 53,000 cybersecurity incidents around the world. Cybercriminals get smarter and learn ways of stealing private information from big companies as well as tricking individuals. Already, the laughable emails from a prince who wants to give you money have lessened.
Savvier criminals word emails today as if they are from a company you already do business with, encouraging you to log in — but when you do, you are only giving them your login credentials.
5. Universal Internet Advances
Right now, you walk into a coffee shop, find their Wi-Fi network and possibly key in a code they give you to use that connection. If you’re lucky, you just log in as a guest without having to type in a bunch of letters and numbers.
In the future, expect to open your phone and be on the internet already. The days of keying in a bunch of codes or searching for networks will disappear. The IoT drives this change, as more and more devices become connected and require instantaneous access.
6. Artificial Intelligence (AI) Coding
Coding becomes more automated as a library of codes becomes expansive. Already, some providers use AI to help users build websites. Expect this trend to filter into professionally designed business websites, as well.
While people still need to know basic coding for design work, the speed at which designers build a site and implement customizations reduces to a fraction of the time it takes designers today.
7. Search Becomes Spoken
Expect more and more sites to add the ability for users to do spoken searches. Currently, Siri and Cortana use this type of technology, but the next five years moves us into higher usage of voice searches. Devices such as Alexa play into this tend, as well. Time to cook dinner? Simply say, “Hey, Alexa, find me a recipe for dinner.”
When you conduct the voice search, your devices connect with the internet and display choices display on a screen next to your stove. Everything connects and works on voice command, much like a scene out of “Back to the Future.”
8. Augmented Reality Increases in Popularity
Have you visited a movie theater recently? You likely have seen people using the Noovie app as a way of interacting with what’s on the screen. Smartphone screens now play high definition images that naturally bring augmented and virtual reality to everyday life.
Expect more websites to implement AR and VR and for the technology to appear on social media. Businesses continue creating apps that interact with customers and add another layer to any experience.
9. Stories Take Over the Web
Have you noticed the trend where you scroll on your mobile device, revealing new layers of a story as you go along? Immersive storytelling is what the Web of the future looks like. People seek out experience over page design. So the traditional grid layouts we’ve come to know to disappear into more of a story experience. Instead of endless elements of navigation, body text and popups, you’ll be immersed into a story and taken from point A to point B throughout the site visit.
One example of this type of technology appears in Shine SMS messages. Users receive a daily text message that offers a few emotional words of inspiration. As the user scrolls through the options, a story unfolds, along with more in-depth advice. The final element is a link to an article on the topic.
Think of this style of immersive storytelling as a sort of sales funnel that connects on an emotional level and entertains the user.
10. Everything Speeds Up
Fifth generation wireless networks (5G) is a welcome advance for most techies but will speed up mobile Internet for everyone. 4G hits around 19 Mbps speeds under the best of circumstances, and people aren’t always near a tower or major hub to get the speeds needed or they find the network overcrowded and their service throttled. With more and more daily tasks falling into the Internet of Things (IoT), 4G just isn’t cutting it any longer. So the concept of a faster, more stable and easier to connect to wireless data transmission came about. The speeds are predicted to be around 10 gigabits per second, which makes the service 1,000 times faster than the averages.
The magic comes in the rangers over 30 gigahertz per second, which would help increase speed and capability. Without getting too technical, 5G used a different type of wavelength. You’ll notice equipment will start to change as 5G expands to various networks and areas. From smartphones to tablets and even laptops, new systems will need to be able to access 5G hotspots easily and run fast enough to keep up.
The new tech will make browsing the Internet from your phone even easier than before. Don’t expect 5G to replace WIFI, though. Experts predict the WIFI market will be worth about $15.6 billion by 2022. Since most devices are capable of running on either 5G or WIFI, the two will continue to co-exist side by side for the foreseeable future. WIFI is often ran off fiber optic cable hookups, which makes for pretty fast speeds that are hard to beat by an unwired connection. However, with more and more providers expanding their services to rural communities and the implementation of 5G, people will expect blazing fast speeds and the ability to tap into the Internet faster and more easily than ever before.
The Internet in Five Years
Where the future of the Web goes in the next five years is only a guesstimate. New technologies emerge every year, so expect additional elements no one could have dreamed of before. One thing is sure, though — the number of devices that can go online, the number of people using the internet and the frequency at which we use the web are all going to increase.
This article was originally published on 1/1/2019 and updated on 9/30/2019.
About The Author
Eleanor Hecks is the Editor-in-Chief of Designerly Magazine, an online publication dedicated to providing in-depth content from the design and marketing industries. When she's not designing or writing code, you can find her re-reading the Harry Potter series, burning calories at a local Zumba class, or hanging out with her dogs, Bear and Lucy.