5 web development trends you would want to follow

‘Rigidity’ is what the entire web development domain can hardly be associated with. Yet, even if a newly emerged trend forces developers and users to discard all the previous beliefs and standards they had, it pays back generously by bringing in improved performance and usability. The inconveniences and challenges caused by innovations are always justified by the results.

Let’s look at how latest web development trends help to address the many challenges of the web development domain and why you should consider following these trends in your projects. 

web app trends

JavaScript-based web tools

Today, JavaScript is in the top-3 of the most popular programming languages. The number of JavaScript-based web tools created for all sorts of purposes, from back-end development to mobile front end, is the main reason for this success. And vice versa, this success is exactly why these web tools evolve rapidly and continue to gain popularity among both experienced and aspiring web developers.

One of the JavaScript-based web tools that became a prominent player in 2018 is Vue.js, an open-source framework used for interface design and web development of single-page apps. Developers appreciate Vue.js and often call it a more lightweight version of already well-loved Angular. In fact, the creator of Vue.js previously worked on Angular at Google and intentionally carried over the best of Angular to Vue.

Along with being extremely lightweight (around 30kb) and simple to catch up, Vue.js is highly flexible and is easy to use with HTML. Moreover, it dynamically reacts to any changes in the code, which makes it an ideal development tool for reactive programming.

JavaScript web components are also gathering a fan base of their own. Consisting of Templates, Shadow DOM, Imports and Custom Elements, these components can be easily reused and integrated into any JavaScript-based web framework (including Vue.js).

Tip: If you’re currently using Angular or any other JavaScript framework and wish to increase your productivity, consider giving Vue.js a try. Not only you will be able to catch up with it in a matter of literally one day, but you’ll also save on your efforts in all future projects since the architecture and API of Vue.js are a lot simpler than those of other JavaScript frameworks. By adding web components to the game, you can reduce you coding efforts even more.

Focus on mobile usability

A focus on mobile web experience has been a trend for more than 5 years now. It’s no longer a question whether a web app should be mobile-friendly; if it isn’t, there’s more than the half of the target audience left out of the picture, and that’s something no business would consciously go for.

The standards of mobile experience are now higher than ever and, thankfully, technology allows meeting them. In 2018, we have various ways to adjust a web app to a convenient mobile use: from converting a web app into an installable mobile app (using frameworks like Cordova) to making a web app work and look like a native mobile app from the very start.

New mobile devices continue to pose new challenges to web development and help it evolve, too. Apple’s recent presentation of Watch OS5 made many web developers sigh heavily at the impending need to adjust web apps to the tiny screens of Apple Watch.

Tip: While mobile-optimized web apps are perfect for discoverability since they appear in search engines, installable apps can be better for user engagement and customer retention. One strategy you can take is to have both and promote your mobile app on your web app by providing links to Google Play or App Store. Another strategy is to make sure your web app itself can be added to a mobile device home screen (and thus, installed) by creating a JSON file or a ‘web app manifest.’

Single-page web apps

Even though multiple-page web applications are still popular, many of them are being revamped as single-page web apps. Such web apps often have a concise menu with most of its content displayed in a feed.

The reason behind the growing preference for single-page web apps is, yet again, the mobile usability focus. More and more users tend to browse the web and scan the pages while being on their mobile devices, where ‘swipe’ is their most common and most convenient gesture. By presenting all the necessary information on a single long page that a user can easily swipe from top to bottom, web app owners strive to raise their visitor engagement and often succeed in it.

However, this trend by no means implies the end of other types of web apps. Multiple-page web apps are still the option preferred by most of the businesses, who want their web presence to remain SEO-friendly in order to attract customers.

Tip: Single-page web apps are indeed notorious for posing challenges to search engine optimization. Think about how critical SEO is for your future web app before going for this architecture type. Alternatively, you can create a single-page web app with server-side rendering or prerendering, thus enabling more effective search engine crawling.

Progressive web apps

Progressive web apps first appeared in 2015, but it’s only now, after they proved their performance-improving features to be effective, that they’re gaining the trust of many developers and spark interest among the public.

As covered in this article, progressive web apps stand out because of the four enhancements they introduce to a basic web app:

  • Offline availability
  • Mobile home screen installation
  • Data exchange over HTTP/2 protocol
  • Push notifications

Needless to say, all these features drastically improve the experience of a web app’s visitor by guaranteeing fast and stable data exchange, allowing a convenient home screen launch, and offering engagement via notifications about the type of content a user is most interested in.

Tip: You can opt in for all or just some of the progressive web app elements to improve your web app. For instance, you can set up HTTP/2 data exchange and enable Service Workers to let your web app work offline if you want to enhance its speed and performance. You can also use Google Lighthouse to measure a web app’s progressiveness and get insight on what can be improved.

AI-based chatbots

As it becomes more and more reliable and human-like, automated online communication modules are steadily penetrating many business-oriented web apps. The advantages of having an AI-based chatbot consult web app visitors are mainly a lower price for labor and 24/7 service availability. Yet, there’s another not-so-visible and less materialistic advantage.

Customer management employees may endure stress and fatigue from having to regularly answer the same questions over and over again. What’s more, there’s no guarantee they will be able to give an elaborate and correct answer every time. A chatbot, on the other hand, doesn’t get tired of doing that and can reply to all the questions with consistent accuracy.

However, the intelligence of chatbots is far from perfect yet: they still have to learn to understand things from context and ignore basic spelling or grammar mistakes. Until then, customer support agents will have to answer basic questions that a chatbot could have handled on its own, if not for a misspelled word in a visitor’s message.

Tip: A good option is to make a chatbot the first step: it can invite customers to chat or answer their basic questions and only redirect a visitor to an employee in case of a question it doesn’t understand. Hence, the employees will engage only in conversations regarding individual or complex inquiries and have more energy to help with them eagerly.

Bottom line

It may seem that web app development is all about sudden twists and turns. Yet, if you look closely, you’ll see the logical reasons and prerequisites behind any popular web development trend. That’s why keeping up with what’s currently setting the pace can sometimes help to predict what’s coming next.

JavaScript frameworks, mobile-friendly nature of web apps, one-page and progressive web app types, as well as AI-based chatbots, clearly define this year’s web app development standards. The technologies behind these trends aren’t new but far from being flawless yet. Still, they’ve already come a long way and brought in the possibilities of higher web app performance, better mobile usability, and customer management automation. Hopefully, these technologies will continue to improve further and help the trends to stick around.

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