How are we going to evolve the web from a page on a screen to something that is all around us?
We design for screens. And as with design for print, there are certain (intuitive) boundaries when designing for screens. It must have a focus, the plane is mostly 2D, colors are generally what we mean and the focus is important. This will soon change.
There are new development in technology that could change the rules of webdesign. This could mean that the new webdesign will be a lot more like art from our viewpont like our current webdesign would be from a viewpoint from a few decades ago.
The Oculus Rift is likely to make an entrance somewhere this year and will probably not be alone. These are goggles which immerse the user in a virtual world, visually. Through a pair of special optics, you look at a display, just an inch away. It makes use of the same screens as smartphones and, within a few year, there will be such high resolution screens that pixels will no longer be visible.
These Goggles are primarily being positioned as a tool for gaming (and simulations). While this maybe the motive for development and anticipation, they could have a much broader impact on our daily (digital) lives.
Our interest in virtual reality took a dip after second life but the hype around SL was an indication of how we long to work and play in virtual worlds. Businesses are transcending bonders, flexworking is commonplace and the web is starting to span the globe. The next big this is true immersion which allows us to virtually log in to work from the office, home or while commuting.
So how does this influence webdesign?
Imagine a spreadsheet from the present day. Mostly a sheet full of columns and rows filled with data, most of the times bigger than your screen. With immersion, all of a sudden the scrollbars disappear.
You can see the data in front of you as if it were a wall in your house. By closing/leaning in you can focus on the details while spatially retaining overview. It is a practical and likely example but it is going to happen to the web too and bigger.
Are we going to see webpages like some virtual representation of a leaflet? Or are websites like buildings where we visit a company on their site? Will we use the walls of the building to write our 'anonymous' comments and only gain entrance after registering with the site? It could be a big psychological improvement for customer support to receive customers inside, make them feel special and pamper them virtually.
I guess the browsers and operating systems will be the main driving force behind our experiences, but we need to start exploring all where this can take us in order to avoid another second 'squared' life.