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2019
Aug 16

Top 10 Web Development Trends

2019 – Part III


WRITTEN BY: Ralph Hilborn

Over the last 25 years, technology has evolved in many exciting ways. User experiences online have evolved as well, and a number of these advancements are highlighted here with our Top 10 Web Development Trends for 2019.

  1. Micro-Interactions
  2. Even More Voice / Voice Search Optimization
  3. Chatbots Evolve
  4. Thumb-Friendly Navigation
  5. Progressive Web Apps
  6. Accelerated Mobile Pages
  7. Responsive Websites
  8. API-First Development
  9. Push Notifications
  10. Motion UI
  11. How Can These Trends Benefit Your Site?

1. Micro-Interactions

User empowerment and engagement through the use of technology creates an enjoyable experience. More than just usability, it needs to be engaging. That engagement is where micro-interactions come in by positively contributing to the product or service.

Micro-interactions can improve a product's user experience in four major way:

  • Encouraging User Engagement
  • Displaying Status Information
  • Providing Error Prevention
  • Communicating Branding

See 'Microinteractions in User Experience' from NN/g for in-depth information on these points.

via Femme & Fierce

Every time you take an action and there is a specific response to it, that is a micro-interaction. Some common examples of micro-interations include:

  • Clicking the notifications tab on Facebook because of the icondisplaying your message count
  • Accepting a pop-up notification on your smartphone
  • Following/Unfollowing a profile on Twitter
  • Animations on hovering over, or clicking, on a link

As designers continue to find more unique ways to engage users in 2019, these micro-interactions are becoming more heavily featured. Hover and scrolling animations, audio cues, and even haptic responses (although they are not fully supported on all mobile browsers yet) are just some of the cutting-edge ways developers are engaging users with micro-interactions.

2. Voice Search Optimization

Voice search is another growing trend you should not overlook. With continued adoption of these evolving voice technologies like Apple's 'Siri', Amazon's 'Echo' and Google 'Home', it is estimated that by 2020 30% of all searches will be done without typing on a screen. Along with the increase of voice searches, voice commerce sales are also expected to grow dramatically and reach $40 billionin the US by 2022.

Google Home | Amazon Alexa | Apple HomePod
voice-activated home assistants

Use of voice search for small business websites is paramount as 22% of these voice searches seek location-based, i.e., local, content. Accordingly, for small, local, businesses, Cultivating market strategies that respond well to the voice searches is increasingly important and rewarding. As voice search continues to gain popularity, itunderscores the very important role that keyword-optimized, topic-focused and well-written content will haven the future. Whether your audience reads that content for itself, or a robot reads it to them, choosing the right words will be that much more important in these screenless search scenarios.

Taking into consideration what we know from multiple market studies, voice search optimization is one of the web development trends you cannot ignore. It should become a part of your SEO and tech strategy immediately because early adopters are always ahead of their competition and tend to remain that way.

3. The Evolution of Chatbots

Chatbots have been an up-and-coming technology for some time now, but we are seeing it finally moving into the spotlight in 2019. This is due mostly to continued advancements in AI and machine learning, making chatbots more intelligent and efficient than ever before.

The ability to reduce routine tasks, while simultaneously processing multiple requests from users, is the most beneficial use of chatbots. The speed with which a chatbot can process users' requests also helps to gain, and retain, customer loyalty.

via insomnobot-3000

A study presented at the 4th International Conference on Internet Science in November, 2017 identified the main factors that motivate people to interact with chatbots. The 4 main factors are:

Productivity:
Chatbots can provide assistance or access to information quickly and efficiently

Entertainment:
Chatbots can be used for amusement by giving them funny tips or help engage and entertain users who are experiencing some down time.

Social and relational factors:
Chatbots can fuel conversions and enhance social experiences. Studies have shown that chatting with bots can also helps to avoid loneliness, can give a user a chance to talk without being judged, and can also help improve conversational skills.

Curiosity:
The novelty of chatbots still sparks curiosity. People generally will want to explore and test their abilities.

Accordingly, new chatbots will be showing up more and more on web pages with higher levels of customization than we've seen in past iterations.

4. Thumb-Friendly Navigation

In 2018, mobile browsing accounted for 52% of all global web traffic. For eCommerce sites specifically, between 70-85% of all global web traffic came from mobile devices! That means, more people are navigating websites with their thumb than with a mouse… so it's time we consider the thumb your #1 priority.

via Ionut Zamfir

One of the most comprehensive studies in this area is Josh Clark's book 'Designing for Touch.' He investigates how users hold their mobile devices and asks the question: "How does your design feel in your hand?." By takingadvantage of how your users are most likely interact with your website, you can adjust to accommodate their preferred useage patterns to give them an even better user experience. Moving menus from the top right (the most difficult to reach with their thumb) to the bottom of mobile screens or navigation that slides in from the side are two examples of how designers are tailoring navigation to the thumb.

via tubik

5. Progressive Web Apps (PWA)

Progressive web apps are possibly one of the most impactful trends in web development right now because it helps in closing the gap between website and native app experiences. PWA offers functionality traditionally available to native apps such as push notifications or hardware access. This cCan make a user's web browsing experience (both on desktop and mobile browsers) closer to native mobile applications, and thereby making a more friendly experience to for the users.

Recent research shows that not only do mobile devices dominate over desktops and tablets, there is an even larger gap between using mobile apps and mobile browsers. Native mobile applications account for more than 80% of the overall time users spendwith their mobile devices.

That's a huge difference! PWAs are working to change that by addressing the major issues users dislike about websites the most: poor user experience, slowness, and having no offline access.

Some of the largest world-wide companies have already built PWAs and leverage its benefits for their business, including:

These companies have all marked the following two most important results from PWA strategy adoption: increase in user engagementand a decrease of load time.

Progressive Web Apps: Twitter and Virgin America

Another huge benefit to building a PWA project is that it can take up to 4x less development timecompared to native app development for iOS and Android. This is mainly due to the benefits of not having to build apps from scratch for each platform.

To learn more about PWA building, you can check out this link from Google Developers.

6. Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)

It's no secret at all that Google has taken serious steps to promote the enhancement of mobile browsing experience. They first introduced their 'Accelerated Mobile Pages Project' to the public in 2015 and its early adoption has helped secure its spot as one of the newest, most influential trends in web technologies.

But what is it, exactly? Simply put, AMP technology is created with the end goal to build websites that load instantly and function smoothly across all mobile devices. On average AMP developed pages load an average of 10-times fasterthan non-AMP developed pages.

AMP performance vs. regular landing page via Google Ads Blog

Page load speeds are one of the top-10 Google ranking factors (see 'Google's ranking factors for 2019' by Blue Corona). It should come as no surprise that the increase in load time means AMP developed pages can increase your website's visibility and also contribute to higher search result rankings. AMP is great for your SEO!

If increasing your page speeds, visibility and page rankings is important to your business (a rhetorical question… we know it is) contact usto see how we can help you develop Accelerated Mobile Pages for your website.

7. Responsive Websites

While web development trends for 2019 are being populated with rather new technologies like PWA and AMP, relatively older trends/features?such as responsive web design continue to dominate as well.

One major shift over time is that, initially, responsive designs were a nice-to-have feature, whereas now it's a must-havebecause the majority of users now prefer mobile devices over any others. Starting July 1st, Google began its implementation of mobile-first indexing. What that means is that, for all new websites or websites new to Google indexing, Google will now use their smartphone 'agent' (Google's protocol for evaluating how a site will appear on mobile devices) to crawl and index websites. (See 'Prepare for mobile-first indexing' from Google)

8. API-First Development

Web solutions have to be well-prepared for connectivity with other applications. Considering the rise of mobiles, wearables, and other devices that need to integrate with one another, this should come as no surprise. This is why an API-first development approach is important.

So what's actually wrong with a traditional development approach? The problem occurs when a company focuses primarily on building its own web or mobile solution and doesn't take into account how other devices or apps may want to interact with that solution. This means that the API development is, at best, a side project - or - at worst, a complete afterthought. Think about how many times you have tried to load a webpage on your mobile phone, become frustrated when it fails to load properly or usefully, and then you simply move on to the competing company whose website fulfills your needs. Accordingly, this out-dated approach results in our hypothetical company being left behind as others in the same market make their apps more accessible.

Traditional approach to API development

The traditional API development cycle typically progresses as follows:

  1. R&D team creates a design.
  2. Back-end developers work on a prototype.
  3. QA and front-end developers get access as soon as the prototype is ready.
  4. Cycle is repeated for bug fixes, new feature, or additional improvements.
API-first development approach

API-first development is faster as all team members can work simultaneously. In other words, putting an API-first strategy in place means no longer requiring one part of the team to wait until the other is finished their work.

See Application Programming Interface on Wikipedia for more in-depth information on API development.

9. Push Notifications

Push notifications are a powerful tool for enhancing the overall user experience and marketing efforts of the company. Mobile applications traditionally have strong and flexible capabilities for user notifications; websites and web apps are gaining momentum in this area as well.

Web push notifications allow users to opt-in to timely updates from sites they love (e.g. new blog post, clothing you liked back in stock, etc.) and allow you to effectively re-engage users with customized, relevant content. Push notifications also provide additional channels for companies to interact with their target audience, along with creating additional marketing opportunities.

You can see a demo push notifications in action created by Google Software Engineer, Matt Gaunt on his website.

10. Motion UI

With a continual increase in focus on customer satisfaction, we are now seeing a significant shift in how developers design websites and applications across almost all industries. More focus is on enhanced user experience within website designs - and easily one of the biggest digital design trends for 2019 we've seen is the concept of Motion UI.

Motion UI is an open-source Sass library for creating custom CSS transitions and animations. As an extension of CSS, Sass helpskeep large style sheets organized and gets smaller stylesheets in operation faster, giving more power to the designer and adding greater structure to the basic language.

Example of Motion UI capabilities

Motion UI has undergone several updates to become a more robust tool with new transition options, an enhanced system for animation queueing, and additional CSS patterns that allow collaboration with numerous JavaScript libraries for greater flexibility.

While every product should strive to be as engaging and attractive as possible, Motion UI library is a perfect solution to capture users' attention with beautiful animations. The library is capable of animating design elements with grace and lets developers easily modify them as necessary. It's flexibility and ability to be implemented with any JavaScript framework makes it a great option for many use cases. You can read more in-depth information on Motion UI from Zurb.

11. How Can These Trends Benefit Your Site?

Whether you're a small business or a large corporation, keeping your online presence up-to-date with the latest trends can give you a decided edge in the visibility of your brand and your company. Contact us if you'd like to see how we can help you remain on the cutting edge!

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