Ever since Sir Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web in 1989, the World Wide Web has undergone a sea change. Unlike natural evolution which takes millions of years and happens silently, evolution in the web development space is swift and pretty loud. It is difficult not to take notice of the changes that happen in the user experience that modern websites deliver.
How has web user experience changed in recent years? What should we look forward to in the coming years? Here is a snapshot of all the web development trends picking up speed in 2021 that every CTO must know about.
1. Websites will see extensive integration of AI and ML applications
In the digital world, websites take the role of virtual storefronts that give customers the information that they are looking for. For a significant period of time, until recently, the f-shaped content layout informed website visitors about the business and its offerings.
While there is nothing dysfunctional with it, static content on a website cannot be personalized to the needs and wants of each user. Also, it may not even provide the information that the user came looking for. The aftermath of this experience is a surge in website bounce rate. Ultimately, this could dampen the SEO prospects of the website and create a downward spiraling trend for its online presence.
It is here that chatbots and live chat software are making a positive impact. They are largely Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning-based programs that can respond to visitor queries with canned responses. In fact, Machine Learning empowers them to continuously learn from the conversations with users and become adept at rendering the right response that the user could be looking for in a swift manner.
This spontaneity of chatbots will definitely result in a positive user experience which in turn creates a dominos effect on the overall business performance.
In a nutshell, the future of website development looks enriched with the extensive integration of Artificial intelligence and Machine Learning.
2. Websites will become more attuned to voice search
Voice search was introduced to the world by Google in 2011. Although the adoption rate was sluggish in the initial days, today, with the massive proliferation of wearables, IoT devices, and similar to smart devices, voice search volumes have skyrocketed.
Even in 2018, at least 27% of the global online population was using voice search on mobile. Today, the volume would be easily double or even triple, considering the widespread use of voice-based virtual assistants.
Voice search has become popular because it is easier, faster, and more conversational compared to text-based search.
What does it mean for website development? Well, web developers might bear in mind how search engines will crawl the content on their websites to find and relay information to voice search users. This will also increase the chances of the web page being showcased as a smart snippet.
They have up the ante in creating schema markup and structured data which are the fodder for search bots to understand the information showcased on a web page. Also, going forth, the content on the website would also have to be written to answer the questions of users directly in a conversational tone.
3. Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) will overtake mobile apps
Mobile apps can provide a user with a bespoke user experience. However, it requires the user to remain online on the app to personalize its offerings. Also, most mobile apps are heavy in size and consume a significant amount of system resources to deliver a positive user experience.
For a large chunk of users who use mobile devices with modest specifications, these apps may appear to be taxing on their device’s performance. As a result, they tend to download, use the app, and uninstall it according to their convenience. This is definitely not a positive for any mobile app, especially for those businesses that have their revenue model mapped around their daily active user count.
Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) strike a middle ground between mobile applications and web pages. Angular, React, Polymer, are some of the development frameworks that help build PWAs.
PWAs offer the same app-like user experience while giving the user the flexibility to remain offline. Further, PWAs can also send push notifications to capture the user’s intention even if the user is not online on the app. They reduce page loading speed and can increase the user’s engagement which in turn could serve other business objectives.
Pinterest is a real-world example of PWA done right. The internet’s image bulletin board was able to increase its time spent by users by 40% with the help of PWAs. In fact, Pinterest mobile apps on Android and iOS mobile apps were 9.6 MB and 56 MB in size. With PWA, this shrunk to a tiny 150 KB.
4. API-first development will garner more interest
On the internet, no application is an island. Every application has to work seamlessly with a host of other third-party applications (even if they are from competitors) to perform at its peak level. Also, this integration is what enables the end-user to derive the maximum benefit of the app.
APIs have remained a web developer’s best friend. They allow the development of web applications that can easily exchange information to-and-fro between multiple apps. In fact, it is the free availability of APIs that makes it possible for startups to integrate their websites and mobile apps with powerful digital tools like Google Maps, Twitter newsfeed, and so on.
APIs have grown so much in popularity that an API-first app development would be the best way forward. It is necessary for apps to co-exist and share their capabilities to deliver the best user experience possible for users. In the process, it also delivers several benefits, including cost-savings, quick scalability, and competitive advantage.
5. Motion UI design will deliver enhanced web experiences
Modern web pages have progressed to an extent that they can have smooth interfaces and transitions that resemble the user of a mobile app. We are referring to transitions and animations that go beyond the scope of PWAs. Motion UI is a standalone library of UI animations and transitions that can guide a product around a digital product. They can build the user experience to have a certain amount of uniqueness that is specific to the brand or business.
To achieve this, Motion UI design allows web developers to liberally use spatial relationships between elements and their functionalities. Motion UI makes static web pages come to life with smooth transitions that appear to have been made out of animation software. Here is Motion UI in action.
6. Landing pages will adopt AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages)
As mentioned earlier, a website (and its landing page) is the virtual storefront to a business. It is necessary that the landing page delivers a top-notch user experience. While PWAs, Motion UI, etc. can help amp the user experience, there is one more web development front that can be used to cement the positive UX. It is the page loading speed.
Page loading speed is crucial for SEO, reducing bounce rate, and for increasing Average Order Value (AOV) in eCommerce. AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) is a project from Google that was introduced to the world in 2015. AMP is a technology that can help build websites that load instantly without any loading time delay. It uses a code snippet, which when embedded into a website’s backend helps the load instantly. In fact, an AMP page can load in 2 seconds compared to a non-AMP page which can take anywhere from 6 seconds or even 22 seconds for loading.
7. Cybersecurity will become paramount
Cybersecurity has always been a difficult challenge for businesses and web developers alike. In 2020, this challenge rose to great heights with the COVID-19 outbreak. The unexpected Solarwinds supply chain attack was a deadly reminder of the far-reaching hands of cybersecurity criminals.
According to S&P Global’s 451 Research, today, cybersecurity has become more than the top priority for most businesses, pushing business continuity, automation, user experience, and other priorities to lower ranks.
As remote working and distributed teams rise in popularity, the need for cybersecurity also rises. One of the places where cybersecurity defenses can be strengthened is the website. Ample protection against DDoS attacks, Main in the Middle Attacks, and similar strategies can help the website and the business withstand cybersecurity threats.
A Call to Action
If your website and its user experience have not been tweaked in recent years, now would be a good time to do it. There are several web development trends on the horizon that can help raise the bar of your website’s performance. An experienced web development company can help with choosing the right technology that can make your website a force for your business growth.