The world of web development is constantly and rapidly changing. We see a constant flow of new apps, websites, functions, and features as new technologies emerge and user expectations evolve.
There’s a lot going on behind the scenes for every new feature that the user sees. In today’s fast-paced world, keeping up with these changes is essential for web developers. While no one can predict the future, it is critical to be aware of how the industry is evolving and to anticipate which factors will have the greatest influence.
As we begin 2023, it is time to consider where the industry is going. What does the coming year have in store for web development? Let us investigate.
1. Single-page applications
Our first trend is a direct result of user browsing habits. In the second quarter of 2022, mobile devices accounted for 58.9% of all website traffic worldwide.
While the shift away from desktop is nothing new, it serves to emphasize the importance of designing and developing for mobile.
Users today value simplicity and speed, and single-page websites deliver on both counts. They are, as the name implies, made up of only one long web page. The page is divided into logical sections rather than a traditional menu or complex navigation system. To get to the relevant section, the user only needs to scroll down in one continuous motion or click on anchor links.
The KitKat website is a fantastic (and delicious) example of single-page design in action. Scrolling down the page becomes an experience in and of itself, with each new element smoothly unfolding to tell a story.
SPAs look good on all devices, are extremely scroll-friendly (a smartphone user’s dream), and may even help to increase conversions. However, as with any trend, each website’s specific use case must be considered to determine whether this design pattern is the best option.
2. Progressive web apps
Once again, mobile is having an impact on the next trend: the rise of progressive web apps.
Progressive web apps look and behave like mobile apps, but are actually web pages that work in the browser. As Google explains, PWAs combine the best of both:
“They are useful to users from the very first visit in a browser tab, no install required. As the user progressively builds a relationship with the app over time, it becomes more and more powerful. It loads quickly, even on flaky networks, sends relevant push notifications, has an icon on the home screen, and loads as a top-level, full screen experience.”
PWAs offer many benefits in addition to recreating the popular mobile app experience in the browser. They can function offline, are highly immersive and engaging, and load extremely quickly because much of the information is cached. They, unlike mobile apps, can be found online via search and do not require installation.
3. Artificial intelligence
It seems like the AI hype never lets up, but it wouldn’t be a trends list if we didn’t mention chatbots. The past year has shown us more than ever how inevitable automation is across all industries, with chatbots often the most visible example.
In the age of constant connectivity, user expectations are high. The traditional 9-5 customer service no longer cuts it: we want 24/7 access to answers and information, and this is where chatbots come in.
These virtual assistants have quickly become the norm, with the Covid-19 crisis accelerating their usage until they appear is on the majority of business website. As they have evolved quickly from customer service into a key conversational marketing tool (with Instagram and TikTok automated messaging a hot 2022 trend continuing into 2023), today’s web developers need to be comfortable with the technology behind them.
This means getting to grips with Natural Language Processing, Natural Language Understanding, and Artificial Intelligence principles. Context-based interactions will play a key role, and the focus will shift towards real-time rather than static user experiences. This developer’s guide to chatbots provides a good introduction to the relevant platforms and frameworks.
4. Voice search technology
“But voice recognition tech has been around for over decade!” we hear you protest. It seems that in 2023, however, things are truly picking up speed.
Despite lower-than-expected adoption, there will be more than 157 million smart speakers in American homes by 2021. Not only are people asking Siri or Alexa for the weather or to play some smooth jazz, but consumer spending on voice assistants will increase by 18% this year, with revenues reaching $19 billion.
Outside of e-commerce, voice interface technology is rapidly spreading, and there is a growing demand for voice-savvy web developers (as well as UI designers with VUI).
We’ve already discussed how to become a voice user interface designer, but aspiring web developers should focus on optimizing every application they work on for voice search and navigation, especially mobile apps.
5. Website push notifications
Push notifications aren’t limited to mobile apps. Websites are also utilizing this user engagement tool, and this is a trend that will continue into 2023.
Brands, like chatbots, are constantly looking for new ways to communicate with users and provide valuable information at the right time. If the user has notifications enabled, they can receive useful updates even if the website is not open.
So how do push notifications work? The push part refers to the server supplying message information to a service worker. The service worker then sends the information to the user, in the form of a notification. This is possible on the web thanks to the Push API. From a development perspective, push notifications are fairly easy to set up, and they offer the benefit of higher engagement without necessarily needing to create a mobile app.
As you can see, working in web development will keep you on your toes; even experienced developers are constantly learning and adapting.
However, you’ll quickly realize that this is part of the role’s appeal. You’ll soon figure out where the cutting edge of your industry is, which web development trends to watch, and which are just passing fads.