Much has changed in the world since technology was first introduced to society. Today, technology continues to advance at an unprecedented rate, so professionals are constantly innovating processes and systems. If there is one thing that has transformed drastically, it would be the way businesses operate and market their brand to users. Back then, work was often done manually, while marketing was limited to radio and newspaper ads. Today, however, automation is becoming more popular and digital marketing is the new norm.
Since the emergence of the World Wide Web, the Internet has evolved into a new platform for businesses to establish their name and attract customers. Website Development has grown increasingly important now that the business landscape has become more competitive than ever. With billions of websites operating on the Internet, how exactly can you stand out and achieve top ranks on search engines?
Building a website requires strategic planning and technical expertise, so developers are always looking for opportunities to innovate. As Website Development evolves and changes further, new trends come into the picture. Keeping up with these trends is crucial to stay ahead of the competition and maintain optimal performance and results.
Check out these top web development trends for 2021 to stay informed and keep your site competitive.
Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) in Web Development
PWAs have been around since 2015 but have only started gaining recognition in more recent years. While the name implies that they are applications, PWAs are actually websites that use web technologies and APIs but provide app-style interactions and navigation. They bring a new experience by mimicking a mobile app’s look and functionality to appeal to the growing number of mobile users and the importance of a smooth user experience.
PWAs reduce a website’s loading times and work offline, just as an app does, but do not have to be downloaded. Developing these apps is also significantly easier than creating native apps to cater to each device. With the latter approach, you would have to build an app for desktops and an app for mobile. However, with PWAs, you only need to build your website as a PWA to respond to different devices, including mobile.
While PWAs are not necessarily a breakthrough trend for 2021, they are expected to become more heavily utilized this year. E-commerce companies and start-ups with low budgets for web development, in particular, will benefit from PWAs since they can reach a large audience and deliver an app-like experience without requiring users to download any program.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning
The use of AI and machine learning will likely increase further this year as technologies continue to evolve rapidly. AI-based communication like chatbots can improve customer service and experience. Having bots that operate 24/7 and respond to users’ inquiries will be extremely convenient to avoid having customers drop off due to unresponsive agents. Additionally, natural language processing (NLP) technologies have improved significantly over time, so AI-powered bots can now mimic human interactions.
On the other hand, machine learning presents the same case in that its algorithms can be used to analyze consumer behavior and understand how to better engage with customers. With more and more businesses adopting AI and machine learning into their processes, Website Development will likely evolve even more in the near future.
Voice Search Optimization (VSO), this Year’s Hottest Web Development Trend
If you are keeping up with SEO trends, then you have probably heard of VSO one or many times. Such is the case as user queries appear to be shifting towards voice searches rather than textual searches. With the popularity of virtual assistants like Siri and Alexa, the Internet of Things (IoT) is predicted to grow exponentially due to voice searches and smart speakers. It is expected that from this year onwards, smart devices will be able to perform voice commands, and more people will turn to digital voice assistants.
What exactly does this mean for your business? For one, if you have yet to include VSO into your marketing strategy, then the explosive trend represents a massive untapped opportunity to reach more customers. In terms of web development, you must ensure your website can recognize voice search functionalities.
For e-commerce sites, voice shopping has also seen rapid growth as users interact with their virtual assistants to make purchases. E-commerce giants like Amazon through Alexa, and Google- through Google Assistant, have hopped onto the trend to provide a more convenient user experience.
Cybersecurity is certainly not a new concept. It has been around since the conception of technology, but in 2021 businesses and organizations of all sizes will suffer from data breaches, ransomware attacks, and other security risks that will cost them hundreds of billions of dollars in 2021 alone. Thus, with the majority of companies utilizing digital technologies to streamline operations, all are being forced to place a significant emphasis on strengthening their cybersecurity measures this year.
Specifically, web developers will pay more attention to the use of HTTPs protocols to secure online activities and communication and eliminate threats from third parties. Google marks sites without the protocol as unsafe, so not having it will deter your chances of getting to the top search ranks. Also consumers are becoming increasingly wary of sites that do not display the secure padlock in the browser bar.
To determine what areas need the most work in terms of web security, you can conduct a vulnerability assessment. Identify your current practices and see if they are effective or need to be refined to have stronger systems. Keep your software updated at all times and stay informed about all the latest security technologies to ensure you have the best measures in place.
Motion User Interface (UI)
Website Development has come a long way from the first time it became a concept. Nowadays, the field is perhaps one of the most innovative and advanced in the digital world due to growing competition among businesses. While functionality and user experience are undoubtedly key components in a good website, visual elements play just as big of a role in capturing users’ attention.
Motion UI aims to make websites more engaging, attractive, and intuitive so that users know how to navigate your site and what pages they should check out. As the term implies, motion UI uses visual cues and animations to guide visitors as they explore your site, thus creating a smooth user experience. This trend is particularly strong in saturated markets with high competition since it helps businesses distinguish themselves and stand out from the crowd.
Developing an Application Programming Interface (API)-First Website Design
In many cases, business owners do not think about API development when developing their website. This is understandable since the main focus is often placed on creating a responsive web design that works on multiple devices. API is often viewed as an afterthought that comes later when companies realize the need to communicate with other devices.
The issue with the code-first approach is that the API development process can be extremely time-consuming, so putting it at the end of your pipeline can lead to longer website development times. Likewise, you may run into limitations while building your API since your interface will have to accommodate the code you made.
Due to these concerns, more businesses are starting to see the merits of adopting an API-first design, where the API is designed first before it is implemented. With this approach, developers can build the site’s interface with users in mind, making sure that they address all the common pain points. The API-first approach allows teams to work simultaneously, creating mock APIs and testing them to find the right fit. It is also “reusable” in that you can reuse your code in another project, thus lessening development costs.
Websites Developed for Push Notifications
Push notifications are popularly used in mobile apps since they help companies and web developers stay in touch with users and relay messages to them without having to get their information. Now that web apps are starting to gain more traction in the digital world, push notifications are expected to be used in more web apps starting 2021. They essentially serve the same purpose as in mobile apps, acting as a tool to promote customer interaction and open up more marketing channels.
Large websites like Facebook will likely be able to integrate push notifications into their web apps within the year, whereas for small and medium-sized businesses, the uptake is expected to be slower. If notifications prove to be useful and valuable for many businesses, there is a high chance that other forms of communication like emails will no longer be needed in the future. As of now, the potential is huge, so developers should capitalize on the trend to attract more users.
How Cloud Computing Affects Web Development in 2021
Cloud computing has enabled more flexible and remote work arrangements, as well as more affordable IT systems for small businesses. Computing services like data storage, databases, and servers have helped companies access their data outside the office to make work much easier and more convenient. Now that remote work has grown significantly due to the pandemic, the cloud computing trend is expected to follow the same trajectory in 2021.
As more companies shift into a remote-first setup, the demand for cloud computing services and advancements will increase exponentially. Even for companies that continue to work in face-to-face settings, cloud computing will be beneficial in keeping data secure. Depending on your long-term plans for your company, you can choose between building your own cloud infrastructure or adopting a multi-cloud approach where you engage the services of multiple cloud vendors.
Website Dark Mode
Interestingly, dark mode is observably growing into a top design trend for websites in 2021. It makes sites look more modern, helps specific elements pop out more, and minimizes eye strain even during daytime. As such, the design feature is not only popular for aesthetic reasons but also for better user experience since dark modes make it easier to view sites under low light conditions. Many websites have jumped on the bandwagon by offering users the choice to switch between dark and light modes as they see fit.
Incorporating 3D Visual Elements into Web Development
Similar to the trend on motion UI, 3D visual elements are gaining more use in the online space as they attract visitors and grab their attention. In the past, adding 3D visualizations to websites came at a heavy cost, so only a handful of companies could afford it. However, with the modern technologies commonly available and in use today, it is now possible to incorporate 3D elements without spending a fortune.
Since using virtual reality (VR) can be a luxury for start-ups or low-budget companies, 3D visuals provide the perfect alternative. They boost the user experience and customer engagement by delivering fascinating and eye-catching visuals.
Mobile-First Website Design
The mobile-first design has been gaining recognition more and more in recent years. Google switched its algorithm to mobile-first indexing for the whole web back in September 2020, so optimizing for mobile is a booming trend in SEO. While having a responsive website that works well on mobile devices is useful, the mobile-first design encompasses a larger idea.
As the term implies, mobile-first web development means that a website developer starts by conceptualizing your website on mobile devices before thinking of adapting it to desktops. Traditionally, developers build sites with the desktop in mind, then optimize them to work properly on mobile. However, many are now shifting their attention towards the reverse process, where they plan out all the mobile elements then work on responsiveness to other devices.
Key Takeaways for Web Development Trends in 2021
Website Development has once again gone up a notch with all the innovations and technologies available. Thus, assembling a competent web development team, which consists of your front-end, back-end and full-stack developers, from the get-go is key to having an updated and relevant website at all times. Having people with the right expertise, along with the right tools in place, can ensure a well-built site.
The beauty of web development is that it allows small businesses to compete with larger and more established businesses by gaining a competitive advantage. By keeping up with trends and implementing necessary changes quickly, you can stay ahead of the market. As you may have observed with the trends for 2021, this year emphasizes minimalist and clean designs that appeal to users and work well on mobile devices. Most of the trends are also designed with the users in mind to ensure that you deliver the best possible experience.