Two thousand and twenty one was a crazy year. We saw the rise of new and wonderful innovations on the web alongside a myriad of concerning and downright crazy trends. From online advertising to e-commerce, web3, NFTs, the metaverse and more - everything changed in 2021.
Instagram and Facebook are dead
Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of what was once Facebook, even admits this fact himself. The days of social media in a traditional Web2 sense are over. In 2021 the Facebook founder launched the new direction for his monolithic enterprise and at the heart of it, is the abandonment of the internet we have all become so comfortable with.
The future of online interactions, according to Zuckerberg and the likes, lies in the metaverse; a virtual reality world where people can truly feel as though they are present online through their avatars.
Of course, such a shift away from Facebook is still years in the making, however already in 2021 we are seeing trends that spell the beginning of the end for this online tech giant.
Research shows that Facebook advertising has become less effective, not only because of the fact that Apple has waged war on the Facebook business model, but also because people are starting to trend towards more niche platforms. Gamers have their own social media - Twitch - and the younger generation views Facebook as "an old person's platform".
With social media companies like Tik-Tok and Clubhouse leading the way in new forms of social media, the web is about to take a new form and that form is no longer in the image of old Zuckerberg.
Relevance is King
Given the downward trend of generalised social platforms and the upward rise of niche online experiences, it is vital that any content put out onto the web has an exact relevance to the audience. Understanding relevance and audience has historically been much easier, but with all the data and user information we now have it gives large corporations an upper hand in understanding their audiences and developing content that meets their exact specific needs on the platform they are active on. Knowing your audience and understanding what content they need has never been more important and the proof of this is in the major core updates to the Google Search algorithm.
Websites are getting cheaper
Every year we see the development of new tools to help businesses get a website up and running fast. As a rapid development agency we are acutely aware of the plethora of tools available to create a viable website for any client - no matter the size of the project. Using tools like Wix, Wordpress, Shopify, Webflow, Weebly, Google and more it is a mere few clicks away to get your business online.
Canva is as good as photoshop (sometimes better)
Before you go mad in the comments, bare with me... In 2021, Adobe's flagship creation tool Photoshop acquired the internet company Canva. Canva allows users to create stunning graphics with just a few clicks and thousands of stunning templates to help fast-track the design process of just about any piece of content - be it for print, presentation, web or socials.
Photoshop will be a more powerful program and experts in photoshop will always have more design freedom that an expert in Canva, however for the average marketer, layman or designer Canva is an incredible tool.
As online tools like Canva become more mainstream it creates an imbalance in the eco system of designers with years of experience in programs like photoshop. Just like when Garage Band made it easy for the average joe to make an album in his bedroom, so too will Canva make it easy for the average Joe to consider themselves a designer. All of this has a profound impact in the industry rates for design... Only time will tell what the long term impact of Canva will be on the world of graphic design.
People are sick of MS Teams and Zoom
It's probably worth mentioning here that we are also sick of Google Meets, Slack, Monday.com and any other tool used for online collaboration and video conferencing. But, just because we are sick of it doesn't mean we won't still use it. According to most authorities video conferencing as a tool for remote work and meetings is here to stay. 2022 may see the return of workers to their office cubicles, but even in an office cubicle it is likely that at least one stakeholder in a meeting will dial in via Zoom and in all likely hood the entire meeting will take place there.
We briefly touched on this subject above, but it is worth mentioning here because in someways it is the answer to the above problem but in other ways it only makes it worse. If you are tired of 2d video conferences, what makes 3d virtual reality conferences any better? In our opinion and the opinions of many early adopters, the virtual reality world is still a headache - literally. If you thought screen time in front of your laptop was hard on your eyes, you're gonna hate a VR headset. Screen time aside, the biggest issue with VR is that too much time in the virtual world can cause severe nausea, headaches and other dissociative symptoms... Of course, the metaverse is not all bad - far from it. The metaverse will usher in the new era of the internet and lay the foundations for the billionaires of the next generation. We have already seen a steady increase in the number of metaverse related investments and businesses and 2022 will undoubtably continue that trend.
NFTs Web3 and Crypto
If you haven't heard of any of the above yet, don't worry. Although these are not new concepts, 2021 really brought them to the public attention. As 2022 continues we will see a heavy increase in the adoption of crypto and NFT based architecture.
An NFT (Non Fungible Token) is a digital asset that is making a huge impact on the art world. People are buying and selling NFT's at record high prices and the more people are spending, the more the world will pay attention. The future of NFT's will likely be more about assets that are usable in the metaverse or online games or even tradable assets that could be used as a means of exchange on Web3 applications and websites.
Web3 is the next buzz word you are likely to come across a lot over the coming months. Web3 is the next stage of the internet. Web3 application and sites will interact directly with Crypto wallets that store digital assets like cryptocurrency or NFTs.
Crypto, being at the centre of the next digital revolution will also make some pronounced developments over the next year as many countries race to legislate, legalise, criminalise, tax or other wise get involved with digital currency. Blockchain technology will pave the way for a new era of trading and purchasing online and the show has only just begun.
It has been just over a decade since the first BitCoin was mined and inn the coming years, we will see what the impact of decentralised finance really is. On top of the decentralised and community owned crypto currencies, 2022 will also see the real dominance of state backed crypto currencies called Stable Coins. Stable coins are backed by a physical currency and so their value is not tied to the runaway speculation that causes the BitCoin price to skyrocket and Fall (hence the name "Stable" coins).
2021 changed the web and the world that interacts with it. 2022 is bound to have new highs and lows. The world online is evolving and there is a heap of opportunity waiting those who have the mind to seize it.
What do you think the biggest trends in 2022 will be? We'd love to read your thoughts in the comments.