As an application development company (‘web development’, if you like), we think about software a lot. Certainly more than most, and perhaps more so than is healthy! So we got to thinking, what’s actually the single greatest bit of software we use on a day-to-day basis? Arguably, the word ‘greatest’ is a hard one to pick apart in this context – greatest because we use it most often? Greatest because we love the design the most? Greatest because….well, just because?!
The answer we arrived at is at once mundane, obvious and, it seems, deeply entrenched in our daily lives. Can you guess what it is? WhatsApp? Netflix? Gmail? I’m reluctant to build it up…
It is, of course, the quietly humble web browser. Be it Chrome, Firefox, Safari or even Edge (other browsers are available, apparently).
This little gem of an application is the gateway to so many other amazing – and indispensable – things; your favourite search engine, your email, social media, your work intranet, your CRM tool, your shopping – and a whole heap more. You can use it in the absence of the native apps, to access things like Spotify and Netflix, so it’s easy to see how the web browser is a pretty versatile piece of kit.
So, what actually is a browser? Definitions include ‘a computer program with a graphical user interface for displaying HTML files, used to navigate the World Wide Web.’ (Google), and ‘a software application for accessing information on the World Wide Web.’ (Wikipedia).
In our words, it’s what you open to go to stuff on the internet. Or even better, as someone in the office said: “a browser is what you’re using to read this” (unless, of course you got all printy-outy on us).
The browser is so powerful that we come to regard the sites we visit as ‘software’ in and of themselves. Arguably, they’re just content; but for sites rich in functionality, they do, seemingly become the software, while the browser just takes a backseat as an enabler. One has to admire its humility.
The browser is not just a hero on your laptop or desktop. It really shines on your mobile too. In fact, overall web traffic from mobile devices now exceeds 50% (statista.com). You probably also have a web browser on your TV, and you may even have one in your car. Tesla, anyone?
So the point, if indeed there is one, is that we all have at least one example of this great tool on each of our main devices. That presents a great opportunity to build amazing applications and distribute them to a ready and waiting userbase, with nothing more than a simple web link. Never before has it been so easy for companies to build and distribute powerful web applications to the masses, whether its for employees, clients, partners, or customers. You just need a capable web developer (oh, haaayyy!), and some hosting (yes, we can help with that too), and you could quite swiftly become part of someone’s online world.