- Intro to Web Development trends and background
- Single-page Apps (SPAs)
- Less coding
- Progressive Web Apps (PWAs)
- Tailored experiences
- Accessibility and the adoption of AI
Web development is just as susceptible to trends as any other industry, especially in line with the ones heavily reliant on style and ergonomics.
You may have never considered something so ‘technical’ like web development to be impacted by fashion tendencies. However, it goes way deeper than just the superficial visual aesthetic - trends have long been influencing standards of user experience.
You probably remember, like most, those white background web pages, coated in blue hyperlinks from the early 2000’s, which took so long to navigate and download that you could go and grab a drink and still return to the half-loaded page that seemed like it needed another hour waiting.
Internet speed has increased drastically – yet the way websites are structured today accommodates for half of the success. Trends in optimization are linked to conversion increase and are crucial for business success.
It is essential to remember that trends cannot be viewed in isolation and they should be coherent with your websites needs and purposes. Understanding business specific needs and accommodating them has higher priority than following fashion for the sake of it, however it is good to understand what they are and how to navigate in the fast-changing world of web development.
We started with uncoordinated numbers and letters on a page over 30 years ago when the internet was still a prototype, we continued into the average person having the ability to create a web page after reading a few books with the advent of the world wide web and HTML in the 90s, then going into the creation of programs like adobe Dreamweaver to allow even the most novice users to create a professional-looking web page in the 2000s.
Now let’s see where we are now and have a look at the top web development trends of 2021 and evaluate them to understand how they contribute to the end user’s experience with eCommerce.
Single-Page Apps (SPAs)
Single-Page Apps (SPAs) are what they sound like – just one page. There is no need to reload the page when following links and no transition to other pages, rather the page itself is rewritten based on what you click.
A single page app is like having one piece of paper where the writing changes based on what you would like to see, as opposed to a classic website that would be like a book with a contents page, directing you to a different page every time you want to see something new.
All the content is downloaded when the website is entered – whether it is from mobile device or browser. They can take different formats – both Gmail and Google maps being SPAs, with Gmail having extra content pop up and Google Maps being able to zoom in and out. Yet the page never reloads.
This flexibility allows a site to cater to their developers’ and consumers’ needs.
Why use SPAs?
- User experience: The User Interface (UI) is typically intuitive and simple to navigate. It takes no time between switching through different functions and this speed increase is crucial for increasing conversion rates.
- Mobile friendliness: SPA frameworks allow developers to adjust the code to create mobile apps without re-developing the entire website.
- Mobile familiarity: with more and more consumers using mobile apps for most things, these websites feel much more like a mobile app than a typical bulky website.
- Memorability: being a relatively new trend, SPAs impress a lot of users and make the brand look extremely contemporary compared to big heavy websites of competitors.
- Speed: SPAs are generally considered much faster than regular web pages, especially once the webpage is loaded.
Websites can be built by people who are much less familiar with coding than ever before.
Services such as Wix and Bubble can help the most inexperienced IT users express their creativity and tailor a website to their design needs. These services can be used by developers with coding experience too, as they often lay a foundation a programmer can build upon later.
Using a low code service allows much more hands-on contributions from people who wouldn’t usually have the time to do all the research required. The choice of which service to use is certainly a difficult decision, but once the decision is made development can start.
Why use a low-code service?
Design: Allowing input from more people with lower knowledge of programming.
Speed: Streamlining development, giving a programming department extra time to work on different projects that may be more useful.
Reliability: Having a design that is already tried and tested.
Safety: Having accountability from a larger agency in the case of errors with your webpage.
Progressive Web Apps (PWAs)
A PWA is a web application running from a browser that feels like a more traditional app, they’re intended to be widely accessible on a variety of browsers, boasting safety, freshness and above all, speed.
Consider Facebook or Twitter who are two of the most prominent PWA utilisers in the modern world. If you visit their websites on your phone, tablet or PC you will be given an app-like experience without ever using the app store.
Tapping the web-app notification will update it for you on multiple devices simultaneously and with each you will know your way around. You may be wondering, what the point, if the app is already available - and the answers can range from the apps running slowly or being incompatible with a certain device to simply not wanting to fill your device’s storage.
The PWA will often imitate a native app very closely while generally being more lightweight. You can still save the web app to your home screen and be notified about it when required. The PWA concept was introduced around 5 years ago and has been steadily growing ever since. They are ideal for people with poor networks, or people who dislike mobile sites in general.
Within the next few years PWAs could replace native mobile apps completely, often being faster and easier to use. To adopt a PWA there are considerations to be made in terms of development priorities and scope of the adoption of the new tech.
Why use a PWA?
- Speed: PWAs load times have been found to be 8 times faster than loading a traditional mobile website
- Compatibility issues: Say you have an old phone that you are using because your current one is being repaired, you navigate to the app store and find Facebook is incompatible with your phone’s OS, and the newer OS is incompatible with your old phone. By navigating to Facebook’s website, you can now have an app experience that you are familiar with.
- Performance: Sometimes a web app can be faster and easier to use than a native app.
- Storage: You may want an app experience but not want to download apps for each website you frequently use, this prevents cluttered storage and home screens.
- Security: You can see the security certificate of the app in the browser, HTTPS, this is not required by a more conventional app.
- Notifications: PWAs can utilise push notifications, unlike a mobile web page.
- Lack of updates: The web app doesn’t need updates like a native app would.
Cookies allow for personalization to each customer, based on their previous searches and behaviour. Cookies collect customer data every time they enter the web and they collect everything you can imagine – frequency, top searches, categories, history, timing and more.
Each customer gets unique experience and gets accurate and relevant recommendations. You will often see a website notify you that they are storing cookies to tailor your experience, these cookies are pieces of information about you that lets a website know small things about you.
If you frequent a fishing website, the cookies will tell a web advertising agency such as google to show you fishing adverts, or if you once ticked a box saying you do not wish to be shown a text box for accessibility options, cookies can remind a website you did that.
Cookies have been used for a long time, since 1994. The reason many people have taken such notice with regards to cookies recently is legislature ensuring users are notified about the storage of these cookies.
Directive/2009/136/EC, or the ‘cookie law’, was passed by the EU in 2009 that made websites inform the end consumer about cookies. Many customers are enjoying this new level of transparency.
Why tailor user experience?
Relevance to consumers: Advertisements not only benefit the advertiser but the consumer too, should they find and buy a product they enjoy.
Ease of use: A website using cookies to allow options to be remembered saves a consumer from having to reselect all of their personal changes that make the website more enjoyable.
Familiarity: Consumers can enjoy being remembered and treated personally by an e-commerce platform.
Accessibility and adoption of AI
If you were asked, ‘Who owns a phone?’, an instinctive answer may include ‘Well, everyone!’. The information age has introduced technology to many more people, and with the 2020s now beginning, more and more companies are ensuring technology can actually be utilised by everyone.
Many phones now come with voice to speech, screen magnifiers, colour-blind modes and more. The utilisation of AI has been key to all of this, with AI systems like Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri being familiar voices to most people.
People unable to walk or talk due to severe health conditions can operate complex web pages, video games, and even achieve degrees through AI interpreting eye movements.
There are many different ways accessibility options can be utilised by websites should they decide to, the technology already exists and is widely used. It can, however, be difficult to decide which technologies to adopt and why.
Some of the advantages of increased accessibility and the utilisation of AI include:
Ease of use: Even the average person who is fully capable of using a keyboard will find accessing the internet by voice a convenient experience.
Technology to a broader audience: People who would never have dreamed of operating a computer now can thanks to eye trackers, voice controls an array of other things.
Novelty: It’s exciting to many to just be able to shout ‘Hey Alexa, what deals do you have on vacuum cleaners?’ and to be told the best prices.
The website landscape is constantly transforming, and the changes that should be adopted are extremely specific to the website’s needs. The hardest choices to be made are often at the very beginning, navigating which trend would work out the best in the long term for a business.
Here at WiserBrand, we’d be glad to help you explore the variety of trends applicable to your business, come up with the best option out there, and set you on course for smooth sailing.