Thursday, January 15, 2015

Edge80 and Adaptive Delivery


Early January, and I’ve been seeing some 2014 year-end stats that started me thinking about shifts in website development trends.

Looking Around


Lately, webdev articles fall into a few overriding trends:
  1. ‘Mobile first’ planning with a responsive flexible layout.  In 2014 over 33% of all web activity was mobile.
  2. Increased consideration for performance of RWD by tech leaders
    • Brad Frost (@brad_frosttreats performance as part of the design, UI-UX and project planning
    • In High Performance Responsive Design, Tom Barker (@tomjbarker) found that many RWD projects had a front-end only approach:
      “Media queries and scaling images looked cool, but focusing only on those intrinsically missed the point of tailoring the holistic experience for the device that the user is currently using. It was the appearance of responsiveness without really being responsive.”
    • Craig Buckler (@craigbuckler) reported that average Page Weight Increases 15% in 2014
      "There’s little point creating a site that works on mobile devices when your pages are 2Mb. Responsive Web Design != a responsive website."
  3. A falling out with dedicated m-dot sites.  Guy Podjarny (@guypod) reported that dedicated m-dot sites typically can perform better, but they have their own set of problems with management.
    "... arbitrarily separating “mobile” from not is doomed to fail, and approaches like RWD are required if we’re to properly serve the fast pace and fragmented device landscape."
These trends are all positive steps and great for new sites, but what about existing sites?

In 2004, there were 51,000,000 websites.
In 2014, there are over 1 billion sites.  How many are mobile friendly? What would it take to make them mobile and tablet friendly with appropriate performance and delivery? 


Back in the 90’s, some pretty smart people were talking about ubiquitous computing and knew that computers would become available everywhere, in small devices, large devices, and as a fabric of technologies which touched and surrounded us.  Attempts to keep content seperate from how it's displayed turned messy and complicated with big products like StoryServer by Vignette. Philosophies like COPE (Create Once, Publish Everywhere) sounded great in theory, but are difficult in practice and depend on other philosophies to ensure that the content is truly portable.

Today, there are few good solutions to the general problem of content repurposing and adaptation, and little awareness that the future lies in technologies which allow valuable information and websites to become malleable and easily applied within a diverse set of devices, both small and large.

Repurpose what is worth keeping.

We are just beginning to realise that Content Adaptation will be an essential way to transform and re-purpose existing legacy websites for the future.  But we will need to also go beyond the simple layout changes and responsive front end delivery. Adaptive delivery must also be part of the webdev process. Going mobile means using devices to do new things in new ways

Looking Forward


Around 40% of the world population has an internet connection in 2014.  Of that, about 40% are in 3 countries: China, United States, and India. This is not shocking given their large populations. For a better sense of global internet penetration, here is a 2014 map of Internet users (per 100 people).
world map
Darkest red is 97/100 and lightest is 0/100
(source: data.worldbank.org )

Companies like Facebook want to bring connectivity to those that do not yet have it with projects like internet.org.  A quick scan of the initiative’s founding partners gives a good indication of how the 60% will get connected:

Ericsson - Mediatek - Opera - Samsung - Nokia - Qualcomm - Facebook

source: internet.org
It's all about phones, wireless and 3G/4G networks. If there was ever any doubt left about the future being a mobile world, I think this ends it. 

No doubt Facebook will be fully prepared to welcome the 1.8 billion new mobile users. How will the rest cope on a small 'dumb' phone? 


At Edge80, we sure don't have all the answers for what the Internet's future holds, but we think we have a pretty good solution for content adaptation and repurposing existing content.  Adaptive delivery, executed in the cloud nearest to the user's request is what Edge80 does.

If you are one of the 1 billion and don’t like the thoughts of yet another re-design to accommodate new devices, think about reinventing and re-publishing instead.