5 Feb - 2018

12 web development trends to look out for in 2018

Even though we barely took a bite out of it, it is already clear that 2018 will be the year of web apps, mobile browsing, as well as increased speed and efficiency. Also, there is a new kid on the block called Blockchain (pun intended) that is sure to push the boundaries of the tech world in the ways we are yet to imagine. Finally, an old friend is due to retire in a couple of years: thank you Flash – you may be gone soon, but you will not be forgotten.

Listed below are 12 web development trends for 2018: some technologies on the list are already being used but now offer improvements that will change the way the game is played, while the others are bound to take the tech world by storm.

1. Progressive Web Apps

Progressive web apps are web-based applications with a user interface that looks and feels very similar to mobile applications. By taking advantage of web browser features, they could be built in less time, and are simpler to deploy and maintain. Feature-wise, Progressive Web Apps have several benefits:

  • They require NO install;
  • They match the latest standard of responsiveness and compatibility across browsers;
  • They work even with connectivity issues;
  • Every app page has its own URL;
  • They can use native device features (like camera);
  • They are safe and will ensure that user remains on website longer.

Google strongly encourages the creation of Progressive web apps. According to their developer manual, PWA can benefit a business in more than one way: not only will it increase engagement and improve conversions (PWAs are apps after all, so search engines treat them as such), but Chrome will prompt users to add the app to their home screen. Out of sight, out of mind will not apply here.

2. Mobile experience first

As mobile browsing has taken over desktop browsing in recent years, creating a website that isn’t responsive or won’t work on mobile is a bad idea. Unless they are really interested in the content of your website, most people won’t bother with pinch-zooming. Whatsmore, they are most likely to bounce and move on. Therefore, one of the main challenges of 2018 will be: mastering and understanding the way content can be consumed best on smaller devices.

In 2013, Steven Hoober conducted a research on the “how we hold our gadgets” topic. He determined that 49% of people use their phones with one hand, 36% cradled (hold a phone with one, interact with the other hand), and 15% with both hands (Blackberry thumb typing style). Today, five years later smartphone design trends are still based on those premises.

3. Google AMP

By becoming a key factor in determining the SERP position, responsiveness became essential to web developers and digital marketers alike. And since Google was one that made it crucial, it’s no surprise that the company wanted to expand the trend onto mobile devices – thus creating Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) Project. Being adopted by 1.5 billion web pages, AMP is a trend that will certainly make an impact in 2018.

  • Building an AMP takes some time and requires 3 major adjustments:
  • HTML into AMP HTML conversion;
  • AMP JavaScript utilization;
  • Implementation of AMP CDN for increased catching capabilities.

Even though it may sound like a lot of work, Accelerated Mobile Pages have benefits like lower bounce rate, better SERP ranking, as well as better UX. If you plan to attract a lot of mobile traffic to your site, this is a trend you should follow.

4. Single-Page and Static Websites

Single-page website trend was established in 2017 and will continue to become more common. Mainly, the entire design revolves around one long webpage, while navigation is based on scrolling or linking to a specific row. Simple, beautiful, as well as user-friendly, a single-page website has several benefits:

  • Low development and hosting cost;
  • Good SEO potential;
  • Works well on mobile devices where scrolling is the most common navigation method.

Unlike a single-page website, on which developer adds some depth through the second, third and fourth scroll, a static website is as basic as a website can get. Pages are coded using HTML, and each user is presented with same static content. Now, why would anyone opt for such rudimental approach to web development? Well, these websites are safe, extremely responsive, and cheap. If you happen to come across a cost-conscious project that requires a web page done quickly, suggest a static website: cost-effectiveness and the wow-factor are the things that will make it a trend to look out for in 2018.

5. Motion UI

Less flashy gifs and aggressive popups, more fluid animation. Minimalistic websites (such as single-page and static websites) are given new life by subtle background animation, animated charts or modular scrolling. Motion UI enables you to introduce different types of motion to your website such as overlay, easing in, overlay, etc. Just keep in mind that simplicity is the key: having an abundance of elements jumping up and down chaotically is just as bad as having a flashy, aggressive gif. Why should you try it:

  • It is enough to know basics of CSS and Javascript, to use the package;
  • Motion UI gives you an abundance of parameters to create animations and make them “behave” the way you want them to;
  • You can apply animations to every element of your website;

The Motion UI package includes a CSS file with ready-made effects, as well as the Sass files. Its flexibility, simplicity and universal character, are might as well make it a part of the psychology of web design in 2018.

6. Goodbye Adobe Flash

When it came out, Flash was exciting: it allowed animation and motion aspects that have never been seen before in web development. Nowadays, however, it seems that its time has passed, as Adobe announced that the Flash Player would no longer be updated or distributed after the year 2020.

Due to its most significant weakness (incompatibility with mobile devices), web developers are expected to move on to HTML5 in 2018. If you still insist on using Flash, you risk losing out on traffic due to outdated technology. Unfortunately, in this case, you should jump the bandwagon and opt for HTML5.

7. Extensions for all major browsers through WebExtension API

In 2018, a bits of code written in JavaScript, HTML, and CSS that we all know as browser extensions, will be built with WebExtension API – a cross-browser system for developing extensions. Thus far, programs created using this system were compatible with Chrome and Opera, but now Firefox has joined this company with Microsoft Edge slowly catching on.

In mid 2017, Firefox announced that they are moving to a “modern web-style extension API”, thus enabling better browser extension compatibility. This is a mark of a new era where developers will no longer be limited to one browser (or a group of them) when creating an extension. No matter what kind of plug-in you develop, it will work on all major browsers.

8. Vue.js

Even though it was created in 2014, this lightweight, lightning-fast framework is something to look out for in 2018. Unlike React which is backed by Facebook, or Angular that is backed by Google, Vue.js has no major company backing. Whatsmore, it was created by one person – Evan You.
And while former two frameworks were meant for large teams, the latter was created by one person with small teams in mind. Apparently, Vue.js is not only lightweight and easy to learn, but it has the incredible tooling and state management, as well as routing built in. Even though its community is not as big as React’s per say, companies like Nintendo, Alibaba, Expedia, and GitLab have adopted it.
It seems like that in 2018, Angular and React got a worthy competitor that is likely to snap up some of their users and turn them into Guests.

9. Angular 2 and 4

In 2016 Angular 2 was released, and (compared to its predecessor AngularJS) it presented us with improved modularity, app architecture stability, and improved dependencies, among other features. Apart from being fast and simple at the structure, this framework has the all-important mobile-first approach. Also, as 2018 will be all about web applications, using Angular 2 in combination with Typescript will enable developers to easily create medium-sized and large apps compatible with any browser or mobile platform.

Nearly a year after Angular 2, Angular 4 came to be. Even though it is very similar to its older brother, this framework has its perks: it is faster and consumes less space by reducing the size of the written code by 60%. Also, the animation package has been removed, thus making it a perfect weapon for projects that don’t require websites with animated elements.

10. Laravel 5.x

Just as JavaScript is an undisputed champion of the frontend, PHP remains highly ranked among programming languages for the backend. What’s more, its position improved when version 7.x was released. As a result, PHP framework Laravel 5.x is considered to be something to look forward to in 2018. Made for bigger projects, this framework already has a variety of existing packages which will simplify the development process by making it quick and reliable.

Laravel 5.5 is a current stable version, but updates are due in February (so any moment now). Regular updates will make sure developers have a framework that compiles with the needs and requirements of the website owners at any given time. Finally, this is an open-source framework with a large community, so questions from user rarely go unanswered.

11. WordPress 4.9 “Tipton”

“Tipton” was released late 2017, and with it came an abundance of improvements that enabled WordPress developers smoother design workflow. The Impression that “this WordPress version is so much easier to work with” than any of the previous ones, makes it a proper web development trend to look out for in 2018. Changes implemented into the most popular website engine in the world can be broken down into four groups:

  • Customizer changes – now developers can schedule when they want their changes to go live, as well collaborate with others on the design;
  • Coding changes – Tipton now checks code syntax for errors and highlights them;
  • Widget changes – enabled gallery widget and better media manipulation on site;
  • Site building improvements – You can now preview any theme and switch it without fuss.

Simplifying the design flow and protecting users from fatal errors in theme and plugin editors – what more would WordPress developers want in 2018?

12. Blockchain

Possibilities of blockchain are endless. First of all, it is safe: every transaction made within a blockchain is verified through complex algorithm calculated by hundreds of computers. Secondly, it is indestructible: to destroy a blockchain, you would either have to smash every PC that is a part of the chain, or disconnect the internet – forever. Security wise, this technology will reign supreme in 2018:

  • It cannot be controlled by a single party, nor it can be disabled by destroying a part of it;
  • Data is public and available for everyone to see;
  • To hack the blockchain is nearly impossible.

Even though blockchain is a relatively new technology, its time is now. In 2018 we can expect the wider application of this platform, which already enabled the creation of Smart Contract, supply chain auditing and automatic protection of intellectual property. Most likely we will see its rise in peer-to-peer and crowdfunding prospects.

Wrapping it up

Web development is ever changing. As technology advances so do our expectations. It seems like 2018 will be all about mobile browsing and web apps, some new technologies, as well as the old ones with a new set of bells and whistles. Are we disappointed? I think not…

Go out and explore, see which trend is best for you and your business. Choose it instinctively but implement it wisely – it may give you an edge you’ve been looking for.