Technological advancements and various platforms drive new web design trends every year, providing users with an immersive experience when using both websites and applications.

According to Adobe, 38% of viewers will stop engaging with a website if the content or the layout of the website is unattractive.

Adobe’s research also found that nearly 8 in 10 of consumers would stop engaging with content that is poorly displayed on their device.

For businesses, keeping people engaged with their apps or websites is important.

This year, we saw a number of inspiring web design trends that introduced quite a lot of innovative possibilities to make websites and applications more immersive than ever. Those that turned heads in 2017 will most likely grow bigger in 2018.

Here are a few trends that are making a difference now, and will have a bigger role in the coming years.

Virtual Reality/360° Videos

VR became a game changer this year, but didn’t make much of a mark on web design. Though many websites opted to use VR to make their content more engaging, many still haven’t realized that VR is the future of UI/UX.

It’s evident from the reception Peugeot got for their promo campaign for Peugeot 208 this year. The campaign used both VR and 360° videos which viewers loved. It’s a fresh new take on advertising and engaging content.

Google’s Daydream headset also explores the possibilities of VR for everyday use. The tech giant has also invested big on the technology reportedly. Web designs integrating VR technology is one such possibility, and we might see it happen next year.

Microinteractions

Microinteractions are those tiny instances that a user will interact with in a website. It could be anything from a ‘like’, a ‘share’, or a form field that the user would fill. Microinteractions serve the purpose of providing users with guidance and giving them an option to communicate in real-time, which in turn makes microinteractions count as critical factors in user experience.

This year, designers brainstormed about creative microinteractions, though we didn’t see most of them succeeding. We will see businesses exploring these interactions deeper next year.

Progressive Web Apps

Applications account for about 90% of mobile media time. Considering the fact that pretty much everyone uses a smart phone now and the total number of mobile app downloads (for all platforms) crossing 195 billion, many designers started exploring the possibility of combining the capabilities of apps and websites. The result was a website-app hybrid known as a Progressive Web App.

This year, many websites were upgraded to progressive web apps, adding more functionalities like offline mode, splash screens, push notifications, and page transition animation/effects.

Progressive web apps have only started rising in popularity, and by next year, we will be seeing more cognitive capabilities combined with the likes of technologies like machine learning and NLP (Natural Language Processing) so the web apps can react to user preferences.

Scalable Vector Graphics (SVGs)

SVGs are speculated to replace conventional image formats like GIF, JPEG etc. in the coming years. As SVGs are not pixel-based, resolutions won’t be a hassle when using them. They are composed of vectors and look great in pretty much any screen size across different devices. But the greatest benefit of using SVGs is that they don’t require HTTP requests. A lot of HTTP requests can, to a certain extent, slow down a website.

Bots

Due to the transition to mobile browsing, websites are getting advanced functionalities similar to an app’s. This trend can subsequently progress to designers including voice-search options and conversational interfaces via heuristic bots in the future.

AI-powered bots gave new ideas to designers this year, and it can potentially even change the face of business interaction. Though intelligent conversational bots won’t likely influence the overall design of the website, they can still be implemented creatively to improve communication standards in websites.

They can be programmed into a Q&A page to answer users’ queries either verbally or as text. Online businesses are already exploring ways to connect to consumers through popular platforms like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. An intelligent bot can do just that; the only difference being that they are automated. They also make interactions and communication more engaging for customers owing to the uniqueness.

Conclusion

Stats say that website performance dramatically influences conversion. An outdated or poorly performing website or the ones that were not designed well can in fact decrease conversions. On the other hand, a website that is up-to-date and follows the latest trends can retain the customers’ faith in the business. The trends above are apparently here to stay, and possibly going to be refined in 2018 opening up more possibilities for immersive web designs.

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According to the dataset from Redmonk and Bitnami, about 30% of container deployments are in production environments.

The impact of the open source Docker on DevOps and virtualization is evident from how developers discuss the prospects all over the internet, and from its increased use in production environments of both SMBs and large-scale enterprises.

Last year, Datadog published a report on Docker adaption among their users, which showed a 30% increase in Docker adoption in just a single year. 

Docker’s growth momentum is still consistently rising, and along with the capability it gives developers to create, deploy, and run applications easier makes it a vital element in a DevOps ecosystem. Though DevOps pretty much covers the entire delivery pipeline, Docker optimizes the production environments.

Before Docker made a name for itself

Before Docker came into being, developers, testers and the ops team relied on a plethora of tools for configuration management. In addition, they had to deal with the complex integrations and other issues inevitably delaying the project not to mention making it more complex in most cases.

The team will have to make use of various environments that should be optimally aligned to meet the project’s goals. Achieving that alignment requires a lot of effort as well. Conclusively, development wasn’t efficient or fast then compared to how it is with Docker now.

The need for Docker arose primarily due to the evolution of application complexity over the years.

Relief for DevOps teams

Software developers in a DevOps environment are well aware of what Docker can do as a reliable environment for development. It allows the team to configure both development and test environments efficiently, subsequently resulting in successful release management.

With major cloud platforms like Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services offering support to the open source container system, Docker allows DevOps teams to deploy to any platform without concern for the underlying complexities. Add to that an extensive collection of official language stacks and repositories from DockerHub, and they have one of the most powerful tools to get the job done quickly.

Ops teams can package an entire application as a Docker image without compromising the build version before it gets added to a central registry. They don’t have to individually deploy EXE and JAR files to the target environment. The Docker image can then be taken by the various environments (development, testing, production etc.) for final deployment.

While the developers are relieved from worrying about setting up and configuring specific development environments every time, the ops team or system administrators become capable of setting up environments (thanks to Docker) akin to a production server, allowing anyone to work on the project with the same settings. 

Docker’s role in DevOps

To begin with, let’s take Wikipedia’s definition of DevOps.

DevOps is a culture, movement or practice that emphasizes the collaboration and communication of both software developers and other information-technology (IT) professionals while automating the process of software delivery and infrastructure changes.

That said, in such an environment, Docker finds its use both as a platform and as a tool. Developers can use it as a platform to run applications while the operations staff can use it as a tool to facilitate integration with the workflow.

With Docker as a platform, the developers can focus on building good quality code. Despite being isolated, Docker containers share the same kernel and OS files. This makes them lightweight and pretty fast; enough to make it one of the best ways to easily and efficiently build distributed systems by allowing applications to run on either a single machine or across many virtual machines. It comes with a cloud service to share applications and automate workflows.

Generally, once development and testing of an application are done, the ops team will take up the responsibility to deploy that app. Before Docker, this phase was quite challenging as issues that didn’t occur during development might show up, giving sleepless nights to the team. Docker eliminates this friction allowing the ops team to deploy the application seamlessly.

Docker-based pipeline in a DevOps environment considerably reduces risks associated with software delivery and deployment. In addition, it ensures timely delivery at a cheaper cost. It effectively unifies the DevOps community as well, supporting the use of popular provisioning and configuration tools like Chef, Ansible, and Puppet etc. From a technical standpoint, Docker facilitates seamless collaboration which is the core essence of a DevOps ecosystem.

The present state of Docker

With Jenkins, another open source tool, becoming more popular thanks to its efficiency in orchestrating complex workflows, developers have started exploring the results of combining it with Docker.

Docker, Inc. decided to invest in build automation last year, and the community behind Jenkins developed many plugins for effective Docker-Jenkins integration. This ended up expanding the capabilities of Docker at the hands of developers, allowing them to create and implement build pipelines on Docker.

Word soon got out, and now many startups have finally started seizing the opportunity to leverage the potential of Docker-based build automation.

CloudBees, one of the first companies, embraced Jenkins and Docker’s build automation to evolve from being just a PaaS player, by offering professional support and services for enterprises planning to adopt Jenkins and Docker.

Shippable, another company, adopted Docker for software build automation.

All these facts and more emphasize the dominating presence of Docker in today’s development realm whether it’s being used in a DevOps system of a simple, small startup or an enterprise with large teams.

Conclusion

According to Datadog’s report,

Docker adopters quintuple (5x) the container count within 9 months after initial deployment. 

Because it’s open source, it brings more perks to the table. Its ability to maintain consistency, productivity, and compatibility while providing reliable security and support for multi-cloud platforms in addition to major corporate backing makes Docker a valuable tool for companies putting their faith on DevOps.

With support from a huge and growing community, Docker will most likely be enhanced in the immediate future providing more out-of-the-box features and more integration choices.


Back in the days, the development life cycle was about defining a business plan and functional specifications, and then having business analysts, developers and testers follow the plan to the letter with some tight deadlines. Even so, the customer can expect to have the product delivered after months or years. That was the waterfall development methodology.

In a few years, the agile movement came into play assembling the complete development team including developers, testers, and analysts to iteratively develop a software resulting in a much faster development and testing. But even then, the operations staff had to work in an isolated environment with different tools. This means there would be delay when it comes to pushing the software to production.

This conflict and lack of collaboration needed a remedy. And it got one – DevOps.

Transforming Development Life Cycle

DevOps can be seen as a culture or a philosophy which brought about a major shift. This shift subsequently transformed software development to what it is today. It’s now a critical aspect of project planning and delivery.

Here’s a testament from the 2016 State of the DevOps report.

High-performing IT enterprises that have adopted DevOps practices deploy 200 times more frequently than those that haven’t embraced DevOps. Correspondingly, the DevOps adopters also enjoys 24x faster recovery from failure, with considerably limited downtimes.

The key benefits of a DevOps ecosystem

  • Facilitates transparent communication, cross-functional collaboration and synchronization between the Development and Operations team
  • Faster feedback loop
  • Faster recovery from failure
  • Improves business agility
  • Faster time to market (TTM) for a MVP (Minimum Viable Product) approach
  • More time to improve code quality

DevOps in Startups

The key to success for a startup is how they leverage emerging or disruptive technologies. Their practice of embracing agile methodologies for iterative development has come a long way now, showing impressive success rate.

For optimal functioning, startups need to utilize optimized resources and keep the pace at low infrastructure costs. For a faster ROI, they tend to go for minimum viable products (MVP) to represent innovation, access the market earlier, and generate revenue. It’s a common approach which significantly depends on feedback from users and stakeholders, through which they can improve the product.

Considering such scenarios, they will need a project management methodology that can help them retain business agility while providing faster release cycles. And that’s where DevOps shines. With DevOps, startups can scale quickly.

As easy as it sounds, embracing DevOps still comes with its fair share of challenges. There would be various tools involved in the environment including those for source code management. For the team, choosing the right combination of tools and later using it to get the desired outcome can be challenging. This adds to the complexity of implementing DevOps, and subsequently creating a well-integrated and isolated environment to work on.

Thankfully, technological advancements alleviated most of the complexity in the recent years.

Going the DevOps Way

DevOps can also automate the entire delivery pipeline, while also playing a key role in helping businesses adapt to rapidly changing market demands. However, garnering the full potential of DevOps requires startups to adopt it in the early development phase itself.

DevOps transformation occurs in a few phases – determining the best practices, choosing the right tools for innovative disruption, and reorganizing the IT infrastructure to go with DevOps. Risks of failing to properly leverage the platform seems to be the main reason that’s deterring many organizations from adopting DevOps.

Here are a few pointers to leverage DevOps the right way.

  • Automation: Automation can be greatly beneficial to startups as it reduces redundancy among processes. In addition, it also reduces human efforts required for compiling, monitoring, testing, and reporting the code. Then again, overdoing automation can end up destabilizing project development with unexpected outcomes at the wrong time. Before automating, startups should take the product lifecycle and project goals into account.
  • Using Docker: If there is one platform that perfectly complements a DevOps culture, it’s Docker. The open source container system gives startups a flexible, scalable, and consistent environments to run their applications. Such virtualization can give startups a good boost in productivity.
  • Optimized resource utilization: Maintaining low infrastructure costs is a priority for most startups these days. The cloud technology came with an answer. Cloud services like AWS and Microsoft Azure came with solutions; ones that can add to the capabilities of DevOps practices. They provide on-demand resources whenever necessary, and without requiring startups to invest in infrastructure and hardware. But, startups still need to ensure optimal resource utilization i.e. they should make a mistake by under-provisioning or over-provisioning cloud infrastructure.
  • Portability: What makes startups special is the fact that they are dynamic. Startups function in such a way that it can adapt to changes on the fly, and frequently too. This also applies to how they build products.

The enterprises may occasionally, due to several factors, encounter a scenario where they need to migrate workloads to a better server. This is also why startups generally consider portability before building a product. This is also one of the reasons why many startups go the DevOps way.

With speed, cost-effectiveness, and customer satisfaction being the factors that determine the maturity rate and success of a startup, not choosing DevOps can make the journey more challenging. Seeing how things play out and then deciding whether to use DevOps or not is not the right approach either, according to experts. The longer the wait, the harder it will be to implement and configure DevOps into the workflow.

Conclusion

For startups, getting enough resources and engineers may not be easy especially when there’s tough competition. Adopting DevOps essentially enables their software engineers to effectively handle the operations as well. DevOps isn’t the hottest trend anymore. It’s moved further and evolved to a point where it is now an irreplaceable component that can be adopted by IT organizations of all sizes, similar to when Agile made its mark. Evidently, not going the DevOps way means getting left behind.

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Mobile technologies became critical for businesses in just a few years. The rapid growth of everything mobile made a significant impact on how businesses operate.

According to the Q416 reports from Gartner, Android had a market share of 81.7% while iOS’s amounted to 17.9%.

That said, this relates to two of the most important goals of startups aiming to leverage mobile technologies for growth in present times.

  • Provide a unique customer experience for mobile
  • Enter the target market quickly and establish presence

Mobile devices are so personal now that users expect the devices to be responsive and reliable, and provide solutions instantly. This is what businesses focus on at present, considering the negative impact in case they fail at it.

Dynatrace’s statistics claim that 48% of users are less likely to use an app again if they have a poor experience, and 24% will have a negative overall perception of the company the app belongs to.

This is where businesses have to make a difficult choice between native and hybrid apps.

Native & Hybrid

Choosing between the two requires the business to choose an approach first depending on its goals.

Either entice target users with a great native application that integrates into their mobile platform

OR

Go for a MVP (Minimum Viable Product) approach with a quickly developed hybrid app that functions across various mobile platforms.

Native applications are designed to work on multiple variants of a single operating system. Web apps are essentially mobile-optimized applications that render on to different screen sizes, similar to a mobile app.

Hybrid app, as the name suggests, takes the best from both worlds and is essentially a web app within a native wrapper. They are cross-platform compatible, cost-effective, and are easy to develop.

However, each choice comes with their fair share of drawbacks.

When should a startup go for hybrid app development?

When a company decides to develop and release a mobile app, it’d be for one of two purposes generally – to catch up with competition or to access an untapped business opportunity before others.

If the TTM (Time to Market) is just a few months, the viable option would be a hybrid app as it can be built on a single source code, and works across various platforms. Unless the company wants to add a feature that can impact how users use the app, hybrid apps do not require updates.

If they have enough time, and prioritize how the users receive their app, they should go for a native app that offers more performance, security, and user experience albeit only on a single mobile platform they are designed for. They require occasional updates to sustain user engagement, and to add more features.

Cross-platform development, availability of resources, portability, faster entry to market, and cheaper budget costs are the factors that make hybrid apps important for startups that aim to push past challenges aggressively, and reach out to about 92% of mobile users (Android and iOS) in one go. Additionally, they will find it easier to develop and deploy new features, and fix bugs.

Conclusion

Evidently, the ‘hybrid approach’ grants startups many benefits but at the cost of giving their users an ‘okay’ experience unlike native apps. However, they can enter the market faster and reach out to more potential customers using various mobile platforms. Moreover, they can invest on enhancing the app over time depending on growth prospects of the business. To conclude, there is no right or wrong app development approach for a business. It comes down to their needs.

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According to Deltek’s Industry Analysis, government cloud adoption will accelerate in the coming years with an annual average growth rate in spending on cloud reaching $6.5 billion by 2019.

With governments across the world trying to serve citizens with their services in the best way possible, it’s paramount to assess how technology can transform this interaction and make it more efficient. Many countries have now started using cloud computing to implement the e-Government architecture so as to provide better, more effective services with the least economic cost.

Benefits of using Cloud in government

In addition to cost benefits, the cloud technology offers many further advantages to the public sector.

  • Scalable resources – e-Government applications can consume resources only when it’s necessary. This means, the applications will be able to handle spiking loads during for instance election, tendering, procurement etc.
  • Pay-as-you-go pricing model – The flexible pricing model allows public services to pay for only the resources they had to use. In the long run, this model can save IT costs for governments.
  • Easy to implement – Cloud applications are relatively easy to implement. In addition, public services won’t be required to buy hardware or software licenses for that matter. There don’t need to set up an infrastructure. The cloud service provider will be providing the infrastructure (IaaS, PaaS, SaaS).
  • Low maintenance – Maintenance tasks including updates are managed by the cloud service provider.
  • Availability – People expect public services to be always available without interruptions. With the cloud, application serving the government can be deployed across different distributed cloud data centers. Even if one data center breaks down, the service will not be interrupted as another takes over.

But despite all the advantages, not all public sector organizations have adopted the cloud. Many countries are still reluctant to have a cloud-driven public sector owing to many concerns.

Major concerns and challenges

  • Security – Security has always been a concern for not just the public sector but also private sector organizations due to a wrong notion that data in the cloud just isn’t secure. The public sector requires robust security on several layers.
  • Compliance & protection of data – Generally e-Government services and applications would have to process sensitive data for operations, and thus should be secured and protected. However, data protection regulations differ in various countries. Some countries may not allow storage of sensitive data, and this cannot be accomplished by most cloud providers as their data centers are distributed around the world.
  • Limitations in auditing features – For many governmental services, auditing is essential. A cloud-driven environment has limitations at present when it comes to auditing possibilities, as the field is still under research.
  • Limitations in interoperability – Cloud is one of the biggest emerging markets at present, which is why cloud services and interfaces come with a heterogeneous landscape. The services may be priced differently depending on the service providers. With this being the case, switching service from one provider to another is often challenging not to mention uneconomic due to opportunity costs for applications and data transfer. Though interoperability is limited, present trends indicate a positive shift to better interoperability in the immediate future.

Conclusion

Increasing success stories and new cloud computing deployment trends alleviated most of the concerns organizations had about the cloud. Governments have started taking initiatives to shift from in-house data centers to cloud-based alternatives. With tech giants like Microsoft and Amazon offering robust cloud services, the security and compliance concerns have become negligible.

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