Websites as they are now, but with a twist.
History repeats itself. Old trends come back into fashion almost as quickly as they disappear. The web is the epitome of this. We go through phases, often repeating them over and over. Every couple of years we have discussions about progressive enhancement or which of the latest technologies should be used. If it isn't new languages then it's new browsers or package managers.
I've never really followed fashion. I am not a follower nor a trendsetter, I just do whatever I want to do and I don't care what anyone else thinks. The same goes for the web. Every opinion is both correct and wrong, everything just "depends". Really, you can just do whatever you want to do. I got bored of those arguments long ago.
I do however have an interest in how the web develops, both the past and the future. Virtual reality is quickly approaching us, whether we like it or not. While I have no idea if it will be as pervasive into our lives as smartphones are, I can foresee two interesting complementing uses of VR on the web: immersive game-like experiences, and subtle enhancements.
The former is where most focus currently is, creating 3D worlds in front of our eyes. That's very fun, but I'm interested in the idea of subtly enhancing the web with VR.
Have you ever read a children's pop up book? Often some pages will have sliders and other interactive elements, then other pages will have a gigantic castle rise out of the pages. This is the possibly not so subtle approach that I'm envisioning for websites. Instead of a skeuomorphic (see, history repeats) room where the content is spread over an office table or where your compass app feels like a real object in your hand, imagine a normal website that has videos and forms. Then, once you scroll down and see a data visualisation it show its third axis going straight into the pages, letting you move your head or pull it out to look at it.
Trends do change over time. We are no longer limited to just a few typefaces or colours. But the web is still the web. Sure it is more capable than ever before, but even with all the available technology we still make every website look pretty much identical. And without being horrible, it's probably going to stay that way. Hopefully in the future websites will be more creative and beautiful but they will still be a website. A focus on the content rather than the experience, in the majority of cases. This is why I think the subtle approach of VR is going to be most common in the long run. Skueomorpism was always fun and it will continue to be, but once we've had our fun in the land of immersive VR we will return to making websites... Websites as they are now, but with a twist.