The Changing Web: March 2019

Ollie's Photo by Ollie Jackson

The Changing Web is a series of articles noting discoveries or announcements from across the web.

We consider what the changes could mean; how will they affect how we interact online? What influence might they have on design trends? What opportunities do they present? And how can you prepare for them to stay ahead of the curve?

We keep our ear to the ground so we can call out the fads, report on the good stuff and celebrate the awesome.

With that in mind, we've looked over some of the more notable announcements over the last month and considered what those announcements could mean for the web industry and digital businesses alike.

Those announcements include:

  • The EU passing a controversial new copyright law
  • Dark mode in beta at WhatsApp
  • Google beginning to rollout AI-driven content to G-Suite

The EU has passed a controversial new copyright law

Away from Article 50 and Brexit, there’s another EU treaty that has sparked controversy in the web industry specifically. Article 13 is part of the new EU Copyright Directive that covers how ‘online content sharing services’ should deal with copyright-protected content. It is seen as move to better compensate content-creators. Because whilst companies like YouTube and Facebook will remove copyrighted material when asked, they are not financially responsible for the initial upload.

Under the new law, platforms will be required to agree licensing agreements with the rights holder prior to any content being uploaded - any content that isn’t licensed must be removed.

So whilst tech giants look for ways to conform to the new law, there is discussion over how Article 13 might have a knock-on effect when sharing content on the web - particularly if you use Gifs and Memes across marketing channels! Gifs and Memes rely heavily on copyrighted material and so there is uncertainty over whether they fall foul of the new directive.

The EU have sought to clarify any confusion by stating that anything uploaded “for purposes of quotation, criticism, review, caricature, parody, and pastiche” are exempt from the new copyright regulations.

If you rely on content marketing and social-sharing to support your business, we advise keeping any eye on the new EU Copyright Directive to see how it might impact on your future marketing.

Dark mode is coming to WhatsApp

WhatsApp, the cross-platform messaging system is currently testing dark mode for its mobile application. Given that WhatsApp boasts 1.5 billion users, adding dark mode will help with the proliferation of what is fast becoming a common UI pattern. And with Apple rumoured to be adding dark mode to iOS 13 this summer, it begs the question, might dark mode become a features that user expect as an option in the not too distant future?

Given that WhatsApp boasts 1.5 billion users, adding dark mode will help with the proliferation of what is fast becoming a common UI pattern.

Dark mode is a popular with users who are viewing screens at night or in dimly-lit environments - it makes for a more comfortable experience and reduces eye strain. Many users also like to have the option of dark mode to help with readability and accessibility.

So how might you be able to bring dark mode to your website or application?

If your website is text-heavy (blogs being a good example) adding a dark mode is a relatively easy feature to implement that your audience will be grateful for. You could choose to add dark mode as an optional toggle or even automatically turn dark mode on or off based on the time of day.

In the case of web applications, dark mode is a little trickier to implement as there is likely to be far more interface components to consider when ensuring everything remains readable and accessible on a dark background. But nonetheless it is worth considering, particularly if it will prove popular with your users. Why not ask your users if they know about dark mode and if it is something that would like to see implemented?

Google is beginning to rollout AI-driven content to G-Suite

Google uses artificial intelligence across many of its core products to deliver a more convenient user experience. And now they have begun rolling out changes to Drive - Google’s file storage service that is part of the G-Suite platform.

The update to Drive is designed to harness the power of AI to make it easier to find the people and files you are mostly like to want by making them more prominent across the interface. Previously you would only see most recently viewed files. Google says the update will predict the files users are looking for and that the predictions will continue to improve over time as the system learns how each user prefers to work.

It’s easy to see how AI might be used to help speed up a users workflow within web applications. By harnessing the power of AI you can help to preempt the needs of a user you can present them with the relevant information as well the actions they may wish to complete.


So that's a look over three notable announcements, including the EU's new copyright directive, the arrival of dark mode on WhatsApp and Google's rollout of AI in Drive.

We anticipate the demand for dark mode functionality on websites and within web applications to increase as more and more users are exposed to the functionality through mainstream applications and software. We're also interested to see how artificial intelligence might be used, particularly in ecommerce - as AI could help to create more personalised and higher-converting online stores.

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