4 Foundational Technology Trends For 2021
March 12, 2021 / Bryan Reynolds
Reading Time: 10 minutes
It’s no secret that technology changes quickly. In fact, every 18 months, computer processing speed doubles, which is evidence in itself of the everchanging and upcoming tech trends.
Zoom took the world by storm due to the pandemic and work from home situation.
E-commerce was the only way we could purchase our much-needed goods.
Blockchain technology is becoming more popular due to the hype around CryptoCurrency.
Cybersecurity needs increase due to the number of people working from their home infrastructure.
We could ramble on about NEW software trends that will take the world by storm in 2021, but we believe there are so many out there, that writing about them would not do them justice.
Instead, we dive into foundational technology trends that we think will either continue to grow exponentially OR take the world by storm. We define foundational technology trends as the underlying architecture and/or concept behind the software, not the software itself.
The 2021 trends:
User experience design adapted for working away from the office.
The need for fast internet, no matter where you are.
Privacy, privacy, privacy - the cookie is slowly crumbling away.
1. Headless architecture as the best new tech:
This is by no means a new way of doing things; it just hasn't been very popular due to the complexity of it. With technologies like React, Aurelia, and Vue.JS having better documentation, and the ecosystem of developers growing, we could see a big switch to headless architecture over the next year.
Why headless architecture could become an emerging tech trend in 2021:
One simple reason. Scalability. During the start of the 2020 lockdowns, most internet users were forced to stay in their home and use the internet even more. With the increased browsing activity came more bandwidth consumption and ultimately, slower websites.
There are many different reasons why websites can slow down. More often than not, it is due to the server that the website sits on getting overloaded. When there is an influx of traffic to the server, it has to serve the front-end, back-end, and everything in between for the user to use the website. Trying to patch these issues retrospectively does work, but not as seamlessly as users expect. Many times the servers need to be migrated, shut down and turned back on.
This is where headless comes in:
Headless architecture allows web processes to have independent systems that would enable system admins to scale areas of the website without affecting the site’s overall operation.
We wrote an article on headless architecture and switched our website to a headless stack in early 2021, to improve scalability and speed.
Take this scenario as an example:
It's March 2020, and your eCommerce store that sells toilet paper has 3x the amount of traffic compared to the year before. Users are complaining of slow checkout times - you isolate the issue and find out that it is the connection between your logistics system and website. That specific function of the website was only made to handle six requests per second, and your site is hitting 18 requests per second.
What’s even worse is that the checkout process is so heavily entangled in core components on the website that changing anything in the checkout process COULD have a huge impact on other areas of the website.
Using a conventional monolithic system would mean that the site needs to be migrated to a test server, patched and fixed, and then carefully migrated back to the production environment. This could cause lengthy downtime for your users - and with the increase in demand for toilet paper, you want to ensure you can capture every last penny in the market.
With headless, your checkout process (as long as you are using a good developer) will be completely stand-alone from other core functions of the website. This allows you to work on the checkout issue in isolation and patch the site on the fly without running the risk of affecting other areas of your store.
2. UX design adapted for working from home:
While the 2020 Pandemic has brought a whole new set of challenges for businesses and beyond, it has brought a world of new design opportunities for user experience designers. Working from home is the new norm, let’s face it. But that isn’t all bad.
Why UX design could become a technology megatrend in 2021:
With new challenges come new possibilities. Adapting to the new world where everyone must keep their distance, whether in the grocery store checkout line or being positioned at home rather than in the office, has encouraged UX designers to take a different approach.
UX designers take advantage of the tools at their disposal, which benefits their work and saves them time when put to the correct use. Essentially, the following tools act as an at-home replica of what UX designers are used to in the office.
For project management, programs like Basecamp and Trello help keep communication lines open between designers and co-workers. Miro and Mural are ideal for brainstorming remotely. There are prototyping tools like Figma, InVision, and remote user testing tools like UserTesting.
This is where UX design adaptations come in:
Pre-pandemic, UX designers would often find themselves working in groups for research, brainstorming, and even testing. While many are used to being part of an in-person collaboration team, working in the office together may not happen until later this year.
The office was a place for processing information, but as times change, the emerging technologies in 2021 are about learning to work wherever. The workplace isn’t confined to an office, as many UX designers are adapting to the work from home scenario smoothly. A park bench, a cafe table, or even the gym - it’s all a workplace now.
Take this scenario as an example:
It’s the middle of a lockdown, and you’re at the supermarket self-checkout, but you’re faced with a touch screen to select your payment method. Whether it be the overwhelming fear of how many people have touched the screen or the fact that it’s the end of the day and there are no sanitizing wipes left, UX designers were needed either way.
As an alternative, voice interface technology has become more common than not. The advantage of voice user interfaces (VUIs) is that you can talk to the screen, rather than touch it, reducing contamination.
For UX designers specifically, this meant they had to decode the user’s expectations of voice interfaces. Designers had to make an effort to grasp human communication and convert their visual design knowledge into VUI.
3. The need for fast internet, no matter where you are:
Pre-pandemic, the internet was obviously a massive part of our lives. As lockdowns around the world commenced, our reliance on the internet increased. Nowadays, working from home is our office replacement, zoom is our new pub, and our schools require online resources.
Why fast internet could become a top tech trend in 2021:
Between January, when COVID-19 hit, and late March, when the pandemic was in full swing, internet traffic in major cities worldwide increased by almost 25%. The pandemic saw a rise in number of people using various applications, from streaming sites to video calling, throughout 2020. Come 2021, fast internet is beyond a want but indeed the next biggest technology.
Zoom, a video conferencing software, saw more people use the app in the first two months of 2020 than the number of people that used it in all of 2019. As a form of video chat, Zoom’s primary use was for employees working from home, students studying away from campus, and even for catch-ups with friends.
Like many of us, you may be wondering how exactly the internet coped with such an overwhelming amount of usage? Well, understandably, Wi-Fi did experience a few issues, like websites that would take longer to load, calls cutting out mid-video, and more. But despite this, the pandemic has driven the biggest internet expansion in decades.
This is where faster internet comes in:
So with millions of more people living through the internet, whether their job or study is reliant on Wi-Fi connection, faster and reliable internet is the way of the future - the best new tech trend for the decade. Many companies are scaling and developing their operations quickly to meet the demand, resulting in faster internet as the new technology trend of 2021.
Like the cloud platform Amazon Web Services (AWS), internet companies are switching to the cloud to increase their flexibility to meet users’ needs. Video streaming and game developments are creating purpose-built delivery networks to bypass large parts of the internet. The increased traffic flows are a push to increase the internet speed, making it the upcoming technology trend 2021.
Take this scenario as an example:
Like anyone would’ve experienced during a lockdown, it can get boring and repetitive. You can only bake so much, watch the same shows on TV for so long, The list continues to grow. It’s not like Netflix wasn’t popular before the pandemic, but the pandemic definitely increased the number of people watching and the time spent on it.
Netflix, a worldwide streaming application, has begun expanding its infrastructure. It partners with the largest data centers in the world to stream to people’s homes. The company plans on installing tens, if not thousands, of extra servers in the next biggest hubs in each region, making the streaming as close as possible to viewers to increase delivery time.
The video calling company Zoom also took actionable steps to increase its speed time for users while minimizing potential delays. Zoom started monitoring where most of its traffic came from, moving forward to partner with internet providers in such locations to create dedicated connections.
4. Privacy, privacy, privacy - the cookie is slowly crumbling away:
Privacy is increasingly important to all of us, as seeking transparency, choice, and control over how our online information is used is an upcoming trend. The term ‘cookies’ refers to small text files that save user-specific data, which is much intertwined with our privacy.
Why privacy could become a digital technology trend in 2021:
Cookies, in general, make our web experience easier. First-party cookies are created by the websites you visit, which memorize your password and maintain your web preferences. On the other hand, third-party cookies are created by non-owners of the websites you visit, used for tracking and marketing.
As Google recently announced, the use of third-party cookies in the Chrome browser will be stopped by 2022. However, with the end of third-party cookies, this doesn’t necessarily mean the end of tracking and the start of privacy… but it’s pretty close.
This is where privacy comes in:
Apple recently launched ATT, Apple’s App Tracking Transparency. Essentially, this means that users have to directly allow any app on their Apple device to track their behavior following a prompt after downloading. If this isn’t a sign of the times, then what is?
Following Apple’s announcement, an example of Apple’s ATT became apparent in Facebook’s privacy announcement. When you download the Facebook app onto your Apple device and do not permit tracking, Facebook can’t use your data or behavior to strengthen its advertising platform.
Take this scenario as an example:
Let’s say you’re a web designer and you’re wanting to understand how your web design is responding and how users are interacting with it; cookies are the answer. 95% of websites use our cookies, mainly for simple things like that.
In recent years, it has come to light how many big companies are using our cookies, specifically Google, Amazon, and Facebook. Google primarily stores your personal information and may even be able to tell you whether you have a medical problem, children, or if you’re married. These privacy changes, new cookie policies, and more, are inevitable. How will they impact us as consumers and as employees?
While we adapt to the pandemic changed world, technology develops alongside. The technology trends of 2021 are taking the world by storm, so be sure to keep in the know with the best new tech to stay on top of your game. Headless architecture, work-from-home UX design opportunities, faster internet developments and increased privacy with the removal of cookies are just a few of the most important and next biggest technology changes to our digital world.