As we enter year two of the Coronavirus pandemic the majority of us have begun to accept that things are not, and will not, be the same any time soon.
Over the past year COVID-19 has shaped our daily lives in many ways, and it’s become clear that the issues caused by the pandemic aren’t going to magically go away.
When it comes to technology, the past year has seen a lot of “band-aid” fixes addressing the forced, newly digital nature of many aspects of our lives. However, as we enter year two of the pandemic we’re beginning to see more thoughtful technology being developed - technology that will truly allow us to manage the long term effects of COVID-19.
With that in mind, it’s not surprising that a majority of the web and app development trends in 2021 will be focused on addressing more long term solutions. Much of the technology trends for this year will be shaped by our collective response to the current global situation becoming more mature.
E-Commerce / Retail
In 2021 we’ll begin to see another big evolution in e-commerce really take off. While I don’t believe brick and mortar stores will ever go away, the new technology being developed will create more of a digital and physical blended experience with more of the curbside pickup/order ahead features we’re currently seeing.`
And, because everyone has become so accustomed to buying things online, we’re going to see digital-only stores begin to create physical retail outlets, and vice versa. The line between e-commerce and physical retail will continue to blur in interesting ways that make the buying process a full full experience.
As an example of what you can look forward to, here at Yeti we’re currently working with an e-commerce brand that is essentially gamifying their marketplace and tying in delivery- and we’re not the only ones playing in this space.
I'm excited to see what will be built in 2021 in terms of social buying, experiential retail concepts, and interactive online engagements - I’m sure we’re going to begin seeing a lot more interesting e-commerce experiences released in the near future.
Digital First Companies
If “remote work” was gaining momentum before the pandemic hit, it got moved to the express lane afterwards. Now that many of us are working remotely full time, the differentiator will be which companies can best adapt to being a truly digital company by bringing nearly all operations, interactions, incentives, and collaborations, online.
However, the tools for this are still rudimentary. Everybody that has starred at zoom boxes all year will agree it isn’t the best user experience. To help facilitate the conversations, meetings and events that used to happen in person, you’ll begin to see new and exciting tools that bring interaction and collaboration to the next level this year.
Some might argue that the end of the pandemic will mean the end of remote work and business operations - but we’ve already so many unique ways for companies to take in-person business practices online, and in a seemingly much more cost effective and efficient way - so why wouldn’t businesses remain this way moving forward?
We’ve recently seen an influx of clients wanting to explore their ideas for automating their formerly in person business operations. Because companies are beginning to see that bringing business online makes everything so much easier, we’ll start seeing things that should have been automated long ago finally being brought online - a pandemic silver lining.
If we look at the state of education before the pandemic hit, there was a lot of room for technological improvement. So far most education fixes have been quick band-aid solutions implemented on the fly, and while many teachers and administrators entered 2021 adamant that this school year could not look like the last, they are still desperate for solutions that actually work.
While there has been a major push to open schools, online learning has become a necessity even for schools that are back to in-person instruction - and there are still parents hesitant to send their children back to school, so administrations are having to cater to this smaller group of students by having both in-person and online classes.
Going forward we’re going to see an increase in online education at all levels. It’s the equitable, lower cost, more accessible way to provide people with knowledge - but the challenge will be creating engaging and useful curriculums. By necessity, there will be a lot of work done on this in 2021.
Humans crave novelty. Being introduced to new ideas and new people is beneficial to both our personal and business lives. In years past the events we'd attend would facilitate this - the spaces we'd go and the people we'd bump into could inform, inspire and change us.
In 2020, we repetitiously went to event after event hosted in the small boxes of Zoom. In 2021, we’ll definitely begin seeing some much more interesting digital events (at Yeti we’re even working on some) It’s a fun time to be a digital events planner!
Technologies that will be in high demand in 2021
We've been excited about VR for a while, as I believe there is so much opportunity for incredible technology to be developed. While VR is still very much experiential and not going to be mainstream anytime soon, given our current state of separation, it’s a tool that can really help bring people together in unique ways.
Our team is well equipped to try out VR for a variety of different uses. Specifically, we have been experimenting with ways to create and collaborate using this platform.
Web Sockets and Real Time Web
While web sockets and real time web technology isn't new tech per say, the ways in which we use it for more interactive content will be. We're going to see people do some really fun and creative things with real time communication out of necessity.
Web sockets are the ability to have a two way connection between a server and a browser as soon as something happens (ex: sending a message). As we build more social interactive web experiences as a result of the pandemic, this technology, while already popular, will have its year in the sun!
Judging by the amount of interest we are getting from our prospective client, more and more opportunities to build things in this platform are arising. I’d say that we're going to see a lot of people playing with this as we seek new, more immersive, online experiences.
These are just a few of the web and app development trends we are seeing pick up steam heading into 2021. We’re working on some fun and impactful products in alignment with these trends and are excited to create more!
It’s especially hard to find silver linings these days, but we believe there will be a lot of people that buckle down and begin building amazing products in response to the problems we’re currently facing. The software they create this year will help better connect us and improve our lives long past 2021. While it's not always easy, I remain an optimistic futurist.
Tony Scherba is a CEO + Founding Partner at Yeti. Tony has been developing software since high school and has worked on digital products for global brands such as Google, MIT, Qualcomm, Hershey’s, Britney Spears and Harmon/Kardon. Tony’s writing about innovation and technology has been featured in Forbes, Huffington Post and Inc. At Yeti, Tony works on strategy, product design and day to day operations, hopping in and working with the development teams when needed. Follow Tony on Twitter.