2012: The web is a Mess!

Yes. I do think today, for any designer, developer, company, corporation, entrepreneur or any person who wants to have a decent website, the web nowadays is a complete disaster. Why? In order to have a good website, there’s a huge issue of compatibility. With so many systems, devices, browsers and versions of all of the above, launching a website is a complete pain in the ass.

First we had the cross-browser compatibility issue that has haunted designers and developers for years now. With so many browsers rendering the content differently in every system, it’s incredibly hard to even think of making something appart from ordinary. Let’s list the most common browsers by OS:

  • Windows XP
  1. Internet Explorer
  2. Firefox
  3. Chrome
  4. Safari
  5. Opera
  • Windows Vista
  1. Internet Explorer
  2. Firefox
  3. Chrome
  4. Safari
  5. Opera
  • Windows 7
  1. Internet Explorer
  2. Firefox
  3. Chrome
  4. Safari
  5. Opera
  • Windows 8 
  1. Internet Explorer
  2. Firefox
  3. Chrome
  4. Safari
  5. Opera
  • Mac OS X
  1. Safari
  2. Chrome
  3. Firefox
  4. Opera

(I’m not even going to go to Linux, because I wouldn’t consider it a mainstream OS.)

Now, you see that I repeat all windows versions, you might say i should consolidate it under only one but… no. In my experience I’ve seen that the same browser in different OS behave differently, even though they are supposed to be the same version.

Speaking of versions, here comes a really cool fact. To all that list, please add versions of each browser, which in most cases the differences are minor, but they are there. How can I explain this simply without turning this post in the disastrous melt of shit that developing a website is today. For each browser listed above, please add the possibilities of versions! In Windows for example, take Internet Explorer (which is HELL in a virtual existence). People out there are still using IE6!  Then you have IE7-8 that run on vista, XP, not in Windows 7, then IE9 that runs on all of them, and then all of them rendering differently on every single system.  Apply the same (but way milder) situation to all of the browsers in different Operating Systems. The result? 100% pure SHIT.

Not even Flash saved us from this one. 10 years ago, I was mainly a Flash web designer/developer and I thought to myself that being a single plugin that contained everything inside, I had no problem with different browsers, since all of them use the same self contained content rendered by the same plugin installed in the system. Na-ah. Same issues kept coming all the time, and then the versions. If I was developing in flash 9 and the client had flash 7 I was practically in a suicide (professionally) mission. Still, Flash was a more visually appealing output and it had less issues than having to work for all the different browsers and versions of browsers (10 years ago there weren’t that many anyways), but then came SEO and Google and all the Search Engine mania… I’m not going to get into that, but basically Flash began to die slowly, at least until Mr. Jobs came along and sped up its death by launching the actual smartphone revolution with the iPhone.

So, introducing MOBILE DEVICES. Don’t get me wrong… i love mobile devices. The only problem is that now we have MORE operating systems, MORE browsers and MORE versions of browsers to take into account for our designs, and even more important, a new whole device that’s tiny and works with fingers, not a mouse. So add to the previous list of systems and browsers iOS with its browsers, Android and its browsers, Windows Mobile and its browsers, and now windows 8 for mobile (i don’t remember how it is called), each device with different resolutions. Now you not only have to worry about how your site is going to look in all of the OSes and Browsers available, you also have to either make your site mobile compatible by making it responsive (google responsive design) or you have to develop a whole separate website just for mobile devices. at least Apple products are more or so consistent with their products and versions, but Android and Windows? their business model is that they license their systems to whoever wants to use it, losing all control of how it’ll work at the end, so for Android phones you have all kinds of resolutions, speeds, color profiles, rendering engines, etc. So both, making your site responsive or developing a mobile site, will come with those issues included.

Put in a very concise sentence, I go back to the title of my post… the web is a complete DISASTER. 

From my very humble (yet extreme) point of view, I think there’s hope in apps. The apps are the best thing that have ever been created since the… well, web itself. We have now a platform that doesn’t rely on the limitations of a browser, but in the capabilities of a device. Yes you still have different OS and versions, but, at least for now, it seems to be a bit more consistent. I mean, an app it’s a piece of software! just like Photoshop has been one since 1988(?). If the computer was too slow, then you knew you had to upgrade, but mostly everybody got the same thing… if you had photoshop, you had photoshop and developers simply created Photoshop for the Mac or for Windows. That’s it.

The more society adapts the tablet and mobile platform behaviors,  the more apps are going to be the way to go, and that to me is simply inevitable. Luckily (not for me cus I’m a Mac user), for once now I’ve seen Microsoft taking the lead on this transition. Windows 8 it’s a completely different OS that I think is a bridge to that different way of using computers and the web, and that’s what we need in order to transcend, for the model at the moment doesn’t suit everybody’s needs. But hey, we gotta give some time to it, because it’s still in it’s cradle. Yet, if I were to launch a new web store per se, I would definitely do it with an app; of course I’d do a website too, but my priority would be my app. Look at Facebook for example… it’s having a really hard time because there’s a higher percentage of users using it on their mobile devices (using the fb app) and don’t no need the dot com. I bet those developers have a really hard time getting their gigantic website work on all browsers without a hitch for that, still huge “minority” that uses FB.com. My point is there’s a tendency happening.

In conclusion… I hate developing for the web right now. It seems stuck in this huge soup of segmented software trying to be the winner when in fact everybody, from the designers to the users and consumers, are the only ones losing. I know that in actuality there’s no other immediate solution, but I do hope for the emergence of a working model for apps to be the way for us to use the internet since the tendency from us is obvious.

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