by Sydney Stone
Hey, business owner! Having a website isn’t good enough anymore. Your website has to be all things to all people. It has to load instantly, be optimized for mobile, look great on any device, offer chatbot and AI technology, and provide an overall outstanding user experience every single time.
Hey web developers! You’re going to be very busy in 2019! New demands and expectations will challenge development teams to stay on top of their game when it comes to new trends and website technologies.
Here are the latest trends that web developers will be focused on in the year to come.
1. Upgrading WordPress sites to PHP7
According to Netcraft, 27% of websites are built on the WordPress platform, which equals out to around 75 million sites. The majority of these sites are currently using an outdated version of PHP that is no long supported. In 2019, WordPress developers and users will need to upgrade to version 7.2 or 7.3.
Pictured below is a detailed schedule from PHP.net that shows the active support and security support timelines for PHP7.
2. Decreasing load time with Single Page Applications (SPAs)
Companies and developers are turning to Single Page Applications in order to provide the fastest response time for their website.
SPAs are single HTML pages that contain all data for the website. Rather than clicking links to other pages, a user can access all the information they need right from the homepage. The page is dynamically updated as the user navigates, making it much faster than a standard website, which has to send numerous requests to a server and wait for a response.
The need for speed in website development is now crucial, considering the fact that most users will leave a website if it doesn’t load in 3 seconds or less, whether it’s on a desktop or mobile device. Last year, Google actually implemented a speed update that prioritizes rankings for sites that load quickly.
Progressive web applications (PWAs) are the next generation of sites that deliver an enhanced and more engaging user experience. These websites offer features that are common to native mobile applications. If you visit a site and receive a pop-up message that states, “This site would like to send you push notifications,” that’s a progressive web app.
Examples of PWAs include Forbes.com, Pinterest, and AliExpress. Progressive web apps deliver an almost identical experience as a mobile application, making them a perfect fit for smaller companies or startups that can’t afford a full-fledged mobile app.
4. Grabbing visitors’ attention with Motion UI
It’s getting harder and harder to grab and hold the attention of an average website visitor. That’s why companies are investing in more exciting user experiences. One way they are doing this is through the use of animated motion technology on their homepages.
A basic example of Motion UI is Netflix. If you hover over any of the titles on Netflix.com, a video of that movie or television series will automatically play. Another great example is BluHomes. The company uses large video images that draw the user in and keep them clicking.
Given the fact that people respond to video better than static images, look for the majority of websites in the future to feature motion UI.
5. Replacing templates with modular design
Modular web design is replacing outdated template-based design. While templates have made it easy for non-programmers to create their own websites, they can be quite restrictive when it comes to getting the exact look and feel desired.
Modular design provides the ease of a drag-and-drop interface and allows developers the ability to build websites faster. WordPress recently introduced a new editing interfaced called Gutenberg that is based on content blocks.
Look for more CMS systems to move to modular based design in 2019.
6. Developing Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)
According to Statista, at the end of 2018, 47.2% of all website traffic happened on mobile. With almost half of all website visits originating from a mobile device, the need for responsive and mobile-friendly websites is increasing.
Back in 2015, Google launched the Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) Project as a way to improve the performance of the mobile web. Since then, more and more websites are being developed with this method in mind. According to Google, AMP pages load faster (less than one second) and use 10x less data than standard web pages.
Also, as mentioned previously, Google is now giving higher rank priority to websites that load faster on mobile devices.
7. Implementing AI-enhanced chatbot technology
One of the biggest emerging technologies in web development is AI-enhanced chat. Hubspot recently reported that almost half (48%) of all consumers prefer live chat over any other form of communication with a company. One of the reasons for this is the desire for instant gratification. Very few people want to dial an 800-number and be placed on hold. Another reason is that chatbots that are backed by artificial intelligence are usually better at helping answer customer questions than humans.
In 2019, the demand for chatbot development will soar, as consumers now expect every company they do business with to have a live chat function on their website. This is actually a win-win for those who put forth the effort to develop chat applications for their business. AI-enhanced chatbots help to cut down on human staffing needs while improving the overall customer experience.
8. Optimizing websites for voice search
Voice search is the new Google search. There are now approximately 119 million voice-activated smart speakers such as Amazon Alexa and Google Home Assistant in circulation in the U.S.
What this means for website development in 2019 is that not only will sites need to be optimized for mobile, they’ll also need to be optimized for voice. More Google searches on mobile devices are being done by voice vs. text. The challenge for businesses and developers alike is to figure out how to rank for voice search the same way as text.
Will SEO become VSEO? That could possibly be one of the web technology trends for 2020 as well as the next big tech acronym.
The speed at which new web technologies are happening can be baffling at times. Just when you think your website has all the bells and whistles your customers expect, along comes the next big shiny object.
Of course, that’s par for the course with technology. The takeaway is that you should never get too comfortable or too satisfied with your current website. You should always be looking for ways to not just improve your customer’s experience, but to truly “wow” them each and every time.