What’s stopping us from building the cool stuff of our dreams, and what’s holding the web back from its full potential? We asked the experts
What are the biggest barriers to innovation in the tech industry? We asked the pros
Yaron Schoen Product designer, Compass www.yaronschoen.com
Although we’ve made progress, our design tools are still extremely primitive in the context of 2016. Design within organisations is still a hodgepodge of tools, files, printouts, sketches and thoughts scattered throughout teams. That is not to say we should blame our tools for everything, but having tools that help us with the design process (not only the execution), would help us move towards innovation quicker.
Andy Budd Founding partner, Clearleft www.clearleft.com
It depends on what you mean by ‘innovation’ and whether you think it’s automatically a good thing. A lot of companies are constantly chasing new ideas to give themselves a competitive advantage. However, this can often come at the expense of the basics. While it’s important for companies to explore the ‘future’, it shouldn’t be at the expense of the ‘now’ or the ‘next’.
Irene Pereyra UX director, Anton & Irene www.antonandirene.com
Simple: The status quo and the current era of web design trends. We have long abandoned the more experimental early days of the internet for what I like the call ‘the Bauhaus era of web design’. Most sites nowadays are boring cookiecutter boxes with extremely high usability, but very little innovation. A total snooze-fest.
Innovation only happens if you are able to look at a problem from a new perspective, and most web designers are too busy copying each other, designing for the lowest common denominator, and basically assuming users are idiots. Birds fly in formation not because they are looking forward, but because they are looking at each other.
Aral Balkan Founder, Ind.ie www.ind.ie
We should be asking: What’s the biggest thing holding the internet (and humanity) back from its potential? The answer is the web itself. We believe the web is decentralised, but it is dominated by an oligarchy of monopolies. We believe the web is freedom, but it is funded by surveillance. If we are to tackle the staggering concentration of wealth and power in the world that is catapulting us towards an unsustainable global feudalism of corporations, we must move beyond the web towards decentralised, commons-based alternatives.
Mat Groves Co-founder, Goodboy www.goodboydigital.com
The most amazing piece of tech in web design is WebGL. It gives the most flexible and powerful ways to make modern web experiences. The problem is the browsers that do not support WebGL or have poor implementations of it: IE 9 and10, and the Android Stock browser. With cutting-edge content, you need to spend a big chunk of time implementing a fallback for these browsers, which takes time, costs money and puts people off using WebGL to really kick the visuals up to 11. The good news is that this is slowly changing.
Jan Lehnardt Vice president, Apache CouchDB writing.jan.io
The biggest barrier to innovation is the missing inclusion. We are an industry claiming to define and invent the future. Yet, it’s mostly (hetero, cis) white men with their problems and ideas for solutions that are in positions of power. In the very diverse world of the web, this is holding us all back. We need more people with more diverse backgrounds and experiences to work on our collective future. If your product is inaccessible to marginalised people, it’s neither radical nor revolutionary.
Cassie McDaniel Design director, Mozilla Foundation www.janeandjury.com
We have an over-reliance on constructs like Google’s Material Design, UI patterns in general, and prescriptive toolsets. If a UI pattern works exactly right for your problem, use it, by all means – these are amazing resources! But make sure there is a good reason for doing so. I see too many designers copying instead of thinking for themselves, and what’s worse, they are afraid to make mistakes because our culture is so hostile to any kind of design that is different.