Technology changes at lightning speeds, making it crucial for web developers to stay up-to-date with the current trends.
With 200 million active websites across the world, it is a competitive space. Brands wrestle competitors to take the top rung of search engine ladders. Smart web developers know exactly what is happening in their world and what to deliver their clients.
Here are the top 10 trends in web development.
1. Progressive web apps taking over
We tend to go on and on about progressive web apps (PWAs), but in case you've yet to hear, PWAs are web pages with the functionality of a mobile app. When users preload these on a mobile device, they can access the apps even without an internet connection. PWAs combine the best of mobile apps and a website to produce a uniform look and feel across all platforms.
Businesses have three ways to target customers on mobile devices:
Build a native app
Native apps give the user experience. But the biggest barrier is getting people to download them from an app store.
Create a responsive website
While mobile websites are not as good for the customer experience, they are easy to access.
Develop a PWA
PWAs bridge the gap between native apps and responsive websites. These function like a native app but are downloaded through a website rather than an app store.
It is also possible to send push notifications straight to a user’s mobile phone through a PWA. This allows users to reconnect with a website whenever they like. Even when the internet connection is poor, users can share and engage with a website’s content. It helps businesses grow user engagement and conversion rates.
PWAs have many benefits which include:
reducing server load by loading two or three times faster than the app
the ability to work offline
cost-effective as it removes a lot of the development and maintenance costs for a native app
needing little storage space as they operate on demand.
Pinterest increased user engagement and Twitter’s Tweets increased using PWAs.
Chatbots are popular for engaging interaction when people land on a website. They are super convenient. Some can answer only basic questions, while others can respond to complex ones. They make websites more appealing as they give visitors fast solutions. People don't want to waste time. They want an immediate answer. Any delay responding can lose that visitor to another site. Chatbots can give your site the immediacy that can be hard for a live customer service team to replicate.
Customer expectations are high and chatbots are reliable in engaging website visitors. Not only do they reply and give instant access to answers, they can be more efficient than a person. They give a business and brand authenticity, and customers 24 hours support.
3. Artificial intelligence is here to stay
With Artificial Intelligence (AI), developers are creating machines that emulate the way humans work and act. The most common AI in current use is machine learning and speech recognition.
Today AI is widely used. Amazon, Apple and Google are world frontrunners. We have Alexa and Siri as virtual assistants, and Amazon’s Polly turning text to speech. Amazon also has its image recognition service, Rekognition. Apple uses AI for its facial recognition FaceID for better security.
Now successful companies turn to web developers to add AI functionality such as voice search and chatbots. Benefits of AI include:
improving visitor engagement
personalising the shopping experience
driving marketing to engage target markets.
4. Cross-platform mobile development
Cross-platform mobile development is the development of apps that work on any platform using only a single codebase. It does away with developing an app multiple times so it operates on each platform.
Cross-platform development has some pretty significant benefits:
write reusable code that allows you to export your app to many platforms
code is easy to maintain and update by changing the codebase and it syncs apps across different platforms
cost-effective to develop and maintain, and most development tools are free
development tools are super convenient and quick to use
the simplicity of publishing an app on multiple platforms gives it wider reach and the potential for higher return on investment.
But nothing great is without its downside, and the same is true with cross-platform development:
performance can be slightly slower than a native app
poorer delivery of graphics and 3D
cross-development tools can lack the specific features of Microsoft and Apple
a native app is better for accessing device hardware
delayed platform updates that take time to roll out across all apps.
5. Machine Learning
Machine learning goes hand-in-hand with AI to create programs that can learn from data sets. Using machine learning will make you a more versatile developer particularly at the backend.
Machine learning is either supervised or unsupervised:
Supervised machine learning is when you train the machine by giving it inputs and the corresponding outputs. This allows it to learn how the two relate to each other. This is the most common method of machine learning.
Unsupervised machine learning is where the machine is only given inputs without the corresponding outputs. The machine has to work out patterns to classify the inputs.
Analysts believe machine learning is set to transform web development by:
analysing customer behaviour
removing security threats
producing customised information and content.
Machine learning collects information that allows businesses to improve user experience with their brand.
Storytelling is not just about content, but also the visuals and the end user experience. Successful brands know this and use storytelling to build brand loyalty. And it works across all industries. Creating narratives brings a brand or product to life, and engages people on an emotional level.
While some brands and products lend themselves to a good story, some work better without a story. As a web developer, you need to know your target audience before doing anything.
Storytelling is powerful form of communication that:
simplifies complex ideas to give them meaning in context
has the power of persuasion where facts miss the mark, and allows target audiences to draw their own conclusions
draws on emotions and feelings
makes content memorable
7. Voice search optimization
Voice search is more popular than ever. According to Google, 20% of searches from mobile devices use voice. Optimizing sites for voice search is important for web developers to make websites mobile friendly.
Fortunately, Google Chrome and Firefox already support voice search technology. Optimizing for voice search is as simple as adding an API that recognizes the function.
Optimizing websites for voice search:
promotes higher search engine ranking
boosts traffic, because voice search adds credibility and makes a website more visible
gives faster results for better user experience and engagement.
8. Increasing demand for video
Websites are no longer a static advertisement for a company. The use of videos enhances the way consumers engage with brands and their websites.
Video conveys your message more effectively than text content and allows users to consume information faster. A video brings content alive and makes it relevant in context for the end user.
Video enhances marketing strategies
Every keyword used on a website is an opportunity to link to a video to boost the chance of users finding a business. Google now displays videos in search results.
Videos also keep people on a website site longer which is one of the main ingredients to help page ranking. The longer a visitor stays on a website, the more important Google bots thinks it is.
Shareable across social media
Videos are super easy to share across social media and in emails. Creating original video content is important. When the business shares video, it drives target audiences to interact with its content in a way simple text on a page can't.
Video boosts sales
Wyzowl research found 74% of people who watched a product video ended up buying the product. Videos help people engage with a brand to learn more about what they offer. Wyzowl studies also found that 76% of businesses believed video gave them a good return on investment.
Websites with videos enhance a visitor’s experience and enhance engagement with the brand.
9. Simple, single pages
Developers are moving away from building deep, labyrinthine site structures and towards building tall, all-encompassing single pages.
With more people accessing the internet from mobile devices, a single page layout makes user navigation easier.
These websites are cheaper and faster to develop, and cheaper to host.
10. Bold, minimalistic designs
Leading on from simple, one-page websites is the trend to create bold, minimalistic website designs. The new trend is to limit design elements so there is no distraction from the message.
Talented web developers and designers know that using more white space makes a website easier to read and more appealing. They understand how people want to use websites. The use of fewer colors, but in a bright, bold color spectrum, emphasizes a company's message, products and services.
Simple designs also load faster, which decreases your bounce rate. No matter how amazing your site might be, if users get sick of waiting for it to load they'll head somewhere else.