Web developers are responsible for developing the code that tells websites how to work. This includes front-end/client-side development and back-end/server-side development, as both components are necessary for all except the most straightforward websites to function. Web Developers implement visual designs and layouts, integrate graphics and content, optimize website performance and capacity, and test to ensure their websites work as intended across any type of computer, mobile or device screen.
Web development closely aligns with web design, which involves designing the features and functionality of websites and apps. Indeed, people often use the term web development in a broader sense, including website design alongside the construction and programming of websites and apps.
Of course, you will notice that the look and functionality of websites are constantly changing. A modern site today looks very different from the first web page in 1991 that explained the World Wide Web. That was very simplistic by current standards, with basic HTML at a simple level.
Web development patterns have changed rapidly over the last 30 years. Does anyone remember when Frames were the latest and greatest in web development? Mercifully that web development trend passed quickly and became obsolete by the early 2000s.
So, where is web development (and design) heading now? We’ve taken out our “virtual” crystal ball and come up with our predictions for web development trends for 2023 and beyond.
Before long (1996), CSS was added to the mix, making it easier for web designers to change their website’s layout, colors, and fonts. This meant that you could separate the content of webpages (HTML) from the visual elements (CSS) for the very first time.
2007 saw a watershed moment with the launch of the first iPhone. Suddenly, websites had to be accessible on mobile phones with small screens, which required a mindset change by web developers. By 2010, they had to consider using responsive design so that users could access the web on a wide range of device types, not just computers.
As technology and bandwidth have improved, web developers and designers have had to add new things to their sites. These include full-screen video backgrounds, animation, and interactive navigation, which would have been impossible in the past. Some web and app developers even choose to cater to virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (VR) now. This will only become more popular in 2023 and beyond as prices come down and processing power increases.
Many web and app users prefer to browse and use their devices using Dark Mode – at least at night – finding it much easier on their eyes. Recent versions of Android and iOS offer dark mode, and users can switch between dark mode and “light” mode at the tap of a button. They also provide “Night Mode,” which automatically switches dark mode on at a particular time in the evening and off again in the morning. In addition, many major websites and apps, including all the major social apps, now offer a dark mode skin.
Another reason users like dark mode on their mobile devices, in particular, is that it helps reduce battery drainage.
We mentioned above that many people now view and interact with the internet on their mobile devices. Indeed, as of August 2022, 59.4% of all web traffic came through mobile phones. Therefore, it should be no surprise that many developers now begin creating websites with the limitations of mobile devices in mind.
Some of the more recent responsive web development trends that developers must keep in mind include the need to focus on a vertical orientation rather than the more traditional horizontal screens used on computers, the need to have meta viewport tags to assist browsers with rescaling websites, CSS queries to change things based on device capabilities, and using methods such as Flexbox to make an easily adaptable layout.
The more advanced websites become, and the faster users’ bandwidths are, the more impatient people are with slow-loading websites. People expect fast experiences and rapidly give up on a site that takes too long to load. Studies indicate that people expect websites to load in as little as two seconds, and people begin leaving after a three-second wait. Google recognized this a few years ago and started including page speed as one of its ranking features, penalizing slow-loading webpages, particularly in their mobile search engine.
Parallax scrolling is increasing in popularity. Here, the background content of a section of a webpage (often an image) moves at a different speed to the foreground when somebody scrolls through the page.
Unfortunately, it is somewhat at odds with mobile-first development, as the effect often doesn’t work on mobile screens. However, developers can turn the effect off for mobile users using media queries in a site’s CSS.
Generation Z, in particular, loves using voice assistants, such as Siri and Alexa, to search for information. According to recent GWI data reported in the October 2022 We Are Social Report, 22.5% of internet users aged 16 to 64 use voice assistants each week. And that doesn’t even include Generation Alpha, who probably use it even more than their older siblings and parents. Interestingly, 17.0% of 55–64-year-old males and 16.3% of that-aged females have converted to using voice search, so it’s not just youngsters who don’t feel like typing.
While Siri and Alexa will work for virtually any website, web developers are making it easier for them by optimizing their sites with voice search in mind. By doing so, they are also making their sites more accessible for hearing and sight-impaired people.
Color designs and patterns go through fashions on the internet, much as in the rest of life. Currently, gradients remain in favor, ahead of plain boring flat colors. Web designers are playing with different looks by using color gradients, often creating eye-catching combinations. Colors bring fun, creativity, and personality to your designs.
Glass textures, aka glassmorphism, add depth and texture to web designs. You combine a blur effect with transparency, and pixels take on a slightly opaque quality of frosted glass. Glassmorphism doesn’t try to trick anyone into thinking you are looking at glass. Instead, it merely invokes the feeling of it.
Apple has been using glass textures in its design since 2020, and it has more recently appeared in Windows 11. It is particularly popular because interactive elements, such as buttons, navigational options, sliders, and other UI elements, stand out when crisp lines lie on top of a glassy blur.
You will probably be used to platform-specific applications on your devices. They appear on home screens, docks, and taskbars and work regardless of whether you have a network connection. They launch as stand-alone apps and aren’t dependent on browsers or other apps (apart, perhaps from your core operating systems). You can do things like take pictures, view playing songs on your home screen, or control song playback, even when in another app. They feel like an integral part of your device.
Traditional web applications, however, generally feel more distant. This is because they typically require internet access to function, and their speed will depend on your bandwidth.
A more recent trend, however, is the development of Progressive Web Applications (PWA), which act like a hybrid of the two. Developers code Progressive Web Apps to work with modern APIs to deliver enhanced capabilities and reliability, yet can reach anyone, no matter where they are, on any device, with a single codebase.
PWAs have become so popular that some consider that they will replace traditional web apps entirely in time.
We have regularly looked at the increased use of chatbots over the last few years, and the popularity with businesses, in particular, doesn’t seem to be declining. For a start, they can enable you to provide customer service on a 24/7 basis. Chatbots are no longer a gimmick, as they can streamline your customer service processes.
In addition, many businesses use chatbots on their websites to encourage customer engagement. Recent advances in artificial intelligence and natural language processing mean that chatbots can engage in complex conversations easily without requiring human intervention. This can free up sales reps’ time for other activities. For example, Chatbots can start conversations with potential customers, guiding them through the website information and ensuring they receive helpful one-on-one responses without businesses having to make staff available continually to answer online queries.
It is being developed as a web standard via the W3C WebAssembly Working Group and Community Group, and all the major browser vendors now support the technology.
WebAssembly is particularly beneficial for performance-intensive purposes, such as games, music streaming, video editing, and CAD applications. It’s already used by web services/apps like Google Earth and the collaborative drawing and diagramming app Figma.
In some ways, WordPress development doesn’t feel like actual development. This is because you have much of the work done for you as part of the WordPress platform. However, as WordPress is now used for 64.3% of websites with a content management system (CMS) and 43.1% of websites overall, you can’t ignore its popularity. Interestingly, 20.1% of all the websites that use WordPress use WooCommerce alongside it, highlighting the popularity of eCommerce nowadays.
WordPress is open source, and its community continually adds new features, which WordPress developers need to keep on top of. The current version is WordPress 6.1, released on November 1, 2022, which includes new design tools, improved templates, new blocks, improved performance, and expanded functionality. The new blocks and full site editing improvements make it easier to edit a WordPress theme without having to write custom code.
Many users prefer their apps and web apps to talk to each other, so they don’t have to enter data multiple times. As a result, there is a trend towards API-first programming to achieve this.
Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) are a set of functions that allow applications to “talk to” and interact with one another. API-first development puts APIs at the foundation of development. It ensures that all of the functionality inside a platform is accessible through an API, meaning you integrate data from different apps/web apps together.
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