The Internet of Things is an inevitability. Already, we are connecting countless devices to the web, from televisions to kitchen appliances to motor vehicles. Gartner predicts that by 2020, there will be at least 6.4 billion ‘smart’ devices on the market worldwide. To give that number more context, by 2020 there will be only 2.87 billion smartphone users. Okay, those are some large numbers. But what does any of this have to do with web design? Sure, IoT could represent a huge security threat due to massive DDOS attacks. But that’s a hosting issue - and not something you need to think about. For all intents and purposes, as a designer, the Internet of Things means very little to you, right? Wrong. “Imagine that your refrigerator is outfitted with sensors that can tell what items are running low or about to expire,” writes Kris of Smash Stack. “Instead of merely texting you, it checks your online meal plan, puts together a shopping list, and orders everything from the grocery store, which employs an Internet-connected autonomous delivery vehicle [to] bring your groceries right to your door.” From a design perspective, this means that you will soon need to architect your website to account for a completely new breed of device - and user. IoT devices will begin interacting directly with eCommerce storefronts, introducing new security and resource demands. Whereas before minimalist design was an important component of a well-made site, as IoT devices grow more prominent, it will become essential to your site’s success. Everything webmasters already do to enhance site performance - from content delivery networks to image optimization - will need to be ramped up in order to account for additional demand. Automated requests aside, there will also be the need for IoT-optimized landing pages. While mobile pages require a reduction in page size, copy length, and rich media, IoT devices such as refrigerators and smart watches will require minimal text and small icons. As was the case with smartphones and tablets, websites that are early-adopters of this new trend will enjoy a competitive advantage over those that lag behind. As a web designer, the Internet of Things could even represent a potential career opportunity for you, as the fundamentals of good web design carry over to the creation of dashboards for connected hardware. It should by now be clear that the Internet of Things will have a significant impact on your website, like it or not. But how can you prepare yourself? What can you do to ensure your site can weather the coming wave of connectivity? According to Sitepoint:
- Either adapt your CSS to detect and respond to even smaller screen resolutions, or create a set of pages made for incredibly small screens. Time will tell which approach is best.
- Use high-contrast colors for better visibility.