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10 MUST KNOW Development Trends to Keep You on the Cutting Edge

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Nov 08, 2018 | Brent Heslop

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Staying on top of emerging web development trends is a critical requirement for staying on the cutting edge. That said, developers often get complacent in their positions and don’t prioritize delivering the most significant possible outcomes from their work. Don’t be one of them.

We’ve compiled this list of the most impactful web development trends of this year and beyond. We’re not talking about short-lived fads that will be irrelevant six months or a year from now, but the advancements that will have a lasting impact on how development is done as a whole.

These are the development trends you need to be paying attention to remain relevant and competitive in your space.

Personalization and Immersive Technologies

One of the greatest trends emerging in the development space is that of hyper-personalization and immersive technologies being used to enhance the way users interact with technology, especially online.

1. Artificial Intelligence

Society has been talking about AI for years as if it were some far off technology from science fiction. As developers, we know that AI is all around us but often don’t fully understand how it’s impacting the work we do day in and day out.

Simple AI chatbots are popping up everywhere you look, but what about using AI to expand the way our users interact with us online? Machine learning, inference, planning, and perception have the potential to provide an enhanced user experience and streamline prospect/customer interactions.

Without the ability to learn, applications approach problems the same way each time. The same mistakes appear over, and over and nothing is done to optimize the result based on prior experience.

Machine learning allows web apps to adapt based on user habits, preferences, and idiosyncrasies to deliver an experience tailored to their unique qualities. It’s something every developer should be excited about incorporating into their designs and skillset.

2. Virtual Reality (VR)/Augmented Reality (AR)

The next development trend on the list is two development trends all wrapped up into one, or at least two distinct technologies that can support an exceptional UI when well executed.

Both Virtual Reality (completely simulated) and Augmented Reality (a mix of virtual and real world inputs) can be used to deliver information to the user in a way that immerses them entirely, creates a unique experience, and delights.

Well executed VR can take consumers into a whole new world, and more importantly, into an entirely new level of understanding about a product or offering faster than any other experiential development to date. Similarly, AR can make the mundane interesting, piques curiosity, and allows for measured, interactive consumption of information.

While these two toolsets are past their infancy and are still somewhat novel but you can plan on them being a standard feature of websites, apps, and software in the very near future.

3. Voice Assistants and Conversational AI Platforms (CAPs)

Voice assistants have been supporting users on mobile devices and in their homes for years, and their increasing popularity has given rise to the need to prepare your web assets for voice search, as well as their inevitable integration. Companies like Snips are helping device makers incorporate voice assistants without the need to develop proprietary software.

As you might imagine, it’s only a matter of time before these voice assistants become a part of the enterprise business website. The implications that these will have on development are substantial, as these sites will essentially need to be able to execute commands based on the user’s vocal instructions alone, entirely independent from any traditional input interface.

While individual voice assistants aren’t here yet, it’s critical to understand how your current web assets can benefit by supporting today’s user’s voice-centric demands. In doing so, you’ll be able to take the smooth incremental steps toward what the future holds, versus a giant (and potentially messy) leap.

The Need for Speed

You find speed at the forefront of any discussion about the future of development (and technology as a whole). Speed has always been a must, but the UX demands of tomorrow’s top performing websites will require a greater developmental focus on speed and performance than we could have possibly imagined just two years ago. The following trends all have a focus on speed.

4. API-First Headless CMS and Fast Omnichannel Delivery

An API-first headless CMS can deliver content to multiple channels—such as a laptop, mobile phone, and a smartwatch—a whole lot faster. Unlike a traditional CMS, a headless CMS can leverage an API to provide content directly to any channel, even emerging ones, without changes to the core dev. Also, to integrate best-of-breed solutions for content delivery, such as adding a personalization engine, a headless CMS eliminates the need for a traditional CMS specialist to try to integrate a solution with a single coupled system.

Beyond speeding up omnichannel delivery, a headless CMS is faster and less expensive than a traditional CMS in regards to development and content creation. A headless API-first CMS lets the content team work independently on content while developers work separately on building CMS templates. This separation does not exist in a traditional CMS, where both the coding and content are linked together within one system requiring developers to handle formatting for delivery in the same space as the content.

Another speed benefit is that most API-first headless CMS solutions typically exists in a Content as a Service (CaaS) cloud environment, they are much much easier to scale and deliver omnichannel content than a traditional server-based CMS. In addition, some cloud-based headless CMS offerings include a Content Delivery Network (CDN), which is a group of servers distributed around the world that cache and deliver content from a server in close proximity to the user making the request. A CDN reduces bandwidth from local servers and reduces latency resulting in much faster delivery of content.

5. Progressive Web Apps

Progressive web apps (PWA) are touted as the future of the web, primarily because they deliver what people want from their web experience: exceptionally fast load times, highly intuitive user experiences, and functionalities that emulate those found in your phone’s native apps.

With more development frameworks popping up all the time, developers are spoiled for choice. Google’s Polymer Project is working to standardize the reusable web components that make PWA so that these elements can be swapped between frameworks, allowing you to create hybrids with multiple toolings based on the unique requirements of your project.

6. Static Website Generators

Static website generators are all about generating code that is as simple and light as possible while maintaining the dynamic impact delivered by a traditional website. They’re fast and secure, and they’ve been an increasingly popular development tool in recent years, especially for those building smaller sites. Larger sites tend to shy away from them due to the poor UI and lack of a proper CMS.

That said, they’re important tools that every developer should be aware of, as they may advance in the future to serve larger and larger website development projects. It is also important to note that since these tools cater to many new businesses, who can’t afford elaborate development, they have a captive audience who are building loyalty to a specific generator and may take those tools with them as their companies and needs grow. To put it another way, today’s WIX may be tomorrow's WordPress, so keeping your eye on these generators is pertinent.

7. Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)

AMP, or Accelerated Mobile Pages, aren’t exactly groundbreaking as they’ve been around for a few years now. However, as Google continues to prioritize the mobile user experience, these pages are becoming increasingly important.

The AMP Project is one of Google’s initiatives to deliver the ultimate experience to its majority of users (mobile users) across every site they visit. Essentially it’s a list of criteria that developers must follow to provide fast load times and an easy-to-consume mobile website.

If you aren’t already developing AMP, you should be. Having your mobile projects rank well is critical to successful development, and Google controls the game. You can be that AMP is a fast track to good Google mobile results.

Cybersecurity

The web is a scary place, and high profile breaches, hacks, and malware have all eyes on cybersecurity as a critical factor for success and stability. Long gone are the days when only the IT department had to worry about security. Good developers have to produce code that protects their products, companies, and consumers.

8. GDPR Factor

You need to be developing with GDPR in mind.

GDPR made headlines for a good reason. Europe is leading the way with the protection of personal identity and personal info, and developers in the know understand that this is the way the world is heading. This web development trend isn’t one any of us can ignore. It’s made enough headlines on its own for you to be aware of it, but don’t miss this excellent article from Smashing about how it will impact your job directly.

9. Internet of Things (IoT) and Security

The Internet of Things has taken the world by storm, with more smart devices than one ever thought possible filling the homes of today’s gadget-happy tech enthusiasts. Development for these technologies has become an increasingly important web development trend on its own, but the popularity and prevalence of this technology has also presented developers with a new challenge—keeping users secure.

Some of these devices can tap into users’ private info on their own, while others represent a backdoor network through which threat actors can gain access. As development for advancing IoT applications continues to increase, it’s important to pay special attention to what can be done to fortify the security of these devices.

10. Blockchain and Cryptocurrency

The rise of blockchain technology, as a support of cryptocurrency, in recent years has been fascinating, to say the least, and presents incredible opportunities for developers. You may have even invested in bitcoin, for better or for worse, but you may not be fully aware of why this tech presents itself as the final web development trend on our list.

Blockchain has shown us that every transaction can be encrypted and only accessed by a private key. Sure, all financial and confidential data transactions can be made far more secure, but this takes peer-to-peer encryption to a new level and ups the ante for virtually all online communication.

Furthermore, because every blockchain revalidates its content every ten minutes, users would have to override an entire network to corrupt a single piece of data in a block. This validation provides both security and stability, in a way that we are only beginning to understand the capacities of. The implications this technology can have on development are astounding and cannot be ignored.

Final Thoughts

The development space can be highly personalized, with each developer conducting themselves differently than the next. Different toolings, skill sets, and work habits produce different results. However, the web development trends outlined in this articles will impact us all. Some already are, others may take time before their presence is felt within your particular work environment, but at some point, they will make themselves known and have some level of impact.

The best web developers are those that remain aware of everything happening in their world, both immediate and for the future, to be better equipped to embrace what will inevitably come knocking at their doors.

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Augmented reality (AR) is a digital experience that combines real-world surroundings with computer-generated sensory input, like sound, graphics or video. AR differs from other digital experiences, like artificial intelligence (AI) and virtual reality (VR), in that it doesn't create a completely separate digital world. Instead, AR enhances real-world surroundings by adding digital elements like computer graphics, interactive experiences and information.AR became popular in the 2010s with the release of devices like Google Glass, Microsoft HoloLens and even smartphones with sensors that could track the user’s position and orientation, allowing them to view digital content layered on top of their real-world surroundings. This could be anything from a map overlay to an animated character that interacts with the individual.Since its inception, AR has found several applications in fields like marketing, entertainment and even education. Let's take a look at some of the ways AR is already changing our everyday lives.How AR Is Changing Our Personal LivesAugmented reality is affecting our personal lives by giving us digital experiences in the real world and changing the way we interact with technology.In the past, if you wanted to use a digital device, you had to sit in front of a computer or hold a smartphone in your hand. But with an AR headset, digital content can be overlaid onto the real world around you, so you can interact with it naturally. For example, you can use AR to see turn-by-turn directions while you're driving, or get information about the products you're looking at in a store.These experiences are not only more convenient but also more immersive and engaging. And as AR technology continues to evolve, you can expect to see even more ways that it will change your life.Social InteractionsActivities such as conducting meetings, attending classes or playing games with friends are all now possible through AR, giving people new ways to bond and make friends from all over the globe.AR technology can also be used to create more immersive experiences at events like concerts, sporting events and even theme parks by giving attendees the ability to see interactive digital content that enhances their surroundings.How We Consume MediaAR is also changing the way we watch television and movies. For instance, the popular show “Stranger Things” has used AR to let viewers explore the show's setting, and the movie “Ready Player One” features a number of scenes that take place in an immersive virtual world.As AR technology continues to develop, you can expect to see even more movies and TV shows that make use of it. How We Purchase ProductsConsumers are also using AR to get more information about the products they're interested in. For example, IKEA Place is an app that lets users see how furniture would look in their homes before they buy it.This type of AR experience is not only convenient but it can also help people make better purchasing decisions by allowing them to see how a product will look and fit in their space.Other retailers are also starting to experiment with AR shopping experiences. For example, Sephora has an app called Sephora Virtual Artist that lets users try on makeup by using facial recognition technology.Augmented reality can be used to track consumer behavior, which can help businesses better understand how buyers interact with their products and services. This allows businesses to customize and maintain content through content management systems based on the information they collect from AR.These new shopping experiences made possible by AR are likely to change the way you shop in the future by making it easier to purchase products.How AR Is Changing Our Professional LivesAugmented reality is not only changing businesses and consumers but also the way we work. AR will affect many professions and create new opportunities for fields related to marketing, data analysis and technical support.AR MarketingAs businesses try to engage with consumers in new and innovative ways, AR provides a unique opportunity for marketers.One way is by changing the strategies marketers use for content marketing and traditional advertising. For instance, rather than using TV or radio commercials, businesses can now use AR to create interactive experiences that allow customers to try out products before they buy them. This gives customers a more realistic idea of what they're buying and can help increase sales.AR also changes the way marketers view their job. Traditionally, marketers have been responsible for creating ads and other promotional materials. With AR they can also create interactive experiences that help customers learn about products and services. This means that marketers need to be more creative and have a better understanding of how technology works.Understandably, some people may worry that with artificial intelligence, jobs will be replaced by computer software or machines. However, with AR, this is not the case. There will be more opportunities for marketers since businesses will need individuals who can create unique AR experiences for their customers.Data and Product VisualizationsAs AR technology develops, it will become increasingly important for data analysts and product managers to be able to visualize data in new and innovative ways.AR provides the ability to view data in a three-dimensional space, which can help people better understand complex concepts. AR can also be used to create simulations that allow people to test products before they are released. This can help businesses save time and money by identifying potential problems early on.Increased Tech Literacy Demands From EmployersThe advancement of technology like artificial intelligence (AI) and augmented reality (AR) is increasing demand for workers who have strong skills in using technology to do their jobs.With the rise of AR, it is more important than ever for workers to be able to use technology to its full potential to keep up with the demands of the workplace.