If you're a web developer, you know the only thing you can expect is that nothing remains the same. Standards and practices that were considered cutting edge a year ago -- or even just six months ago -- are likely replaced with something new already
There are no brakes on the innovation train, so you can either lead, follow, or get out of the way if you want to keep working as a web developer!
Feeling overwhelmed already? You don't have to be. We've got your back. We're about to make it easier for you to look ahead and see what's coming down the pike this year in terms of new web development trends. Let this be your fair warning!
Flash is Dead
It's been a long time coming, but Adobe's much-maligned web animation platform is truly breathing its last. Flash has been the bane of both developers and site visitors for ages but was the only game in town for far too long. HTML5, meanwhile, has become a strong contender to replace Flash because the new web programming standard supported native animation, but adoption has been lagging.
That is until Google announced it was ditching Flash for HTML5 permanently. Not only that, but the search engine giant announced it would begin auto-converting all Flash advertising to HTML5. In other words, there are no valid use cases for Adobe's least favorite but most used software suite anymore. It's unlikely it will be missed.
Mobile First Is Here to Stay
A few years ago, web design began to embrace mobile optimization as a value-add, ensuring that sites designed for desktop viewing also had a version available designed for easy viewing and navigation on mobile devices. Mobile optimization was an important facet but not a primary one at that point, but things have changed; with more people using mobile devices to browse the web than desktop ones, the importance of mobile web design has become increasingly prominent.
As a result, many web design experts now say that a mobile-first strategy has replaced traditional web design. Designers begin with constructing websites for native mobile viewing and then create desktop versions to ensure as many users can access the page as possible, not the other way around.
The Push For One-Page Design
Mobile-centric design differs in some key ways to desktop-centered, and one of the ways that this manifests itself is in a preference towards one-page web design. Whereas desktop web pages might be more geared towards a multi-page site design complete with easy-to-access navigation, mobile development has gravitated towards pages that contain all the relevant information a user is looking for on one single page for easy scrolling.
New research bears out the one-page approach. An increasing number of users are skimming content, spending less time on each page and showing a reduced proclivity to click through to separate pages. One-page designs tend to keep the attention of modern web surfers much more efficiently, which means such designs will continue to grow in popularity as the year goes on.
Progressive Web Apps are Making Waves
Another mobile-centric design trend is the progressive web app, standard apps that are designed minimize the negative aspects of using both mobile and desktop devices while playing to the strengths of each platform. These apps mimic the look and feel of mobile applications that were designed natively for that purpose, yet the content is delivered through bog-standard web pages.
The benefits of these types of apps are undeniable. Offline access is better, usability is more fluid, speed is higher, and security is tighter. Additionally, there's no need for an app store or any other middleman for a progressive web app. Google is pushing progressive apps in a major way as a result and is offering large amounts of developer support.
At one time, if you wanted to be considered any sort of competent web developer you needed to know PHP inside and out. This was reinforced by the fact that WordPress, the de facto leader in content management systems, relied heavily on PHP; with WordPress being such a popular choice for web development, it necessitated learning the scripting language.
Drag-And-Drop Page Building Growing
With the popularity of WYSIWYG site creation tools used by WordPress, Wix, Squarespace, and others, there is a strong push to provide easy-to-use functionality. Content management systems and blogging platforms that allow users to customize the look and feel of their public-facing product are very much in demand now as a result, and the push towards more ease-of-use is growing.
One of the biggest trends is drag-and-drop page building. Allowing users to choose from a number of widgets or site elements and permitting them to position them anywhere they wish has always been popular, but third-party tools like the WordPress-specific Gutenberg are, despite their growing pains, situated to become even more popular with less technically-minded content creators. Providing well-working tools for these content creators is going to keep developers very busy in the immediate future.
The Sky's the Limit
Being a web developer is easy. Being a good one? That's the hard part -- it involves being agile enough to spot and identify new trends early enough to adopt them yourself. It's a constant battle to keep track of the cutting edge, especially as it keeps blasting off into the horizon! In fact, these six web development trends are just the tip of the iceberg for 2018. New and innovative techniques and methods are always around the corner, driving industry disruption and forcing anyone who wants to excel in their job. Don't get left behind!