The web application development landscape has changed significantly over the last decade. From an industry more focused on rankings and keywords, developers are now a lot more concerned with experience and user satisfaction.

It’s no longer about where you rank on search engine result pages – but how much your visitors enjoy the time spent on your website and apps. This has meant an increased investment in user interfaces and browser extensions.

We also see “leaner” web applications, devoid of clutter, with a greater focus on minimizing data consumption and perhaps even making apps available offline. These development trends aim to make the customer’s work a little easier for an overall, more enjoyable and delightful browsing experience.

Top 7 Trends to Keep an Eye On

If you’re a developer or working at any other capacity in the app development world, the following are seven key web app development trends to keep tabs on.

  • Progressive Web Applications 

Progressive Web Applications (PWAs) are websites that function like native mobile applications. The apps are characterized by four key features, i.e., application shell architecture, transport layer security, service worker technology, and web app manifest files. These four features allow PWAs to leverage the best mobile app and website capabilities – accessibility and broad reach.

Most of the big brands have already made the switch from traditional websites to progressive web applications – and they all report significant success. Flipkart, for instance, experienced a 70% rise in conversions. Twitter Lite is another platform that has tried out PWAs. They realized that PWAs require just 3% of the storage space the traditional website typically requires.

  • Artificial Intelligence, especially Chatbots 

Artificial Intelligence is revolutionizing the world. Currently, the technology is present in virtually every industry where it helps with automation and analytics. Gartner even predicts that AI will contribute to nearly 90% of all customer interactions by 2020. As a result, web application developers are working overtime to integrate AI capabilities into their designs. One famous manifestation of AI in app development is chatbots.

Chatbots address customer support requirements like a human rep would – without the inherent challenges that come with human-only customer service departments. In web applications, the bots can take queries, perform searches, answer questions, and even refer special queries to human reps. They do so without getting tired or increasing the customer support base.

  • WebAssembly

For a long time, web-based games were developed using JavaScript. Unfortunately, JavaScript is a bit slow. For “heavy” games involving many calculations, it drags processes, making the experience a bit lackluster. It’s partially why some of the popular games are available as native desktop apps.

WebAssembly promises to revolutionize the sector. It’s an open standard that defines a portable binary code for executable programs. What’s most interesting about the technology is that it allows developers to compile programming language into bytecode that runs in a browser. The result is a more remarkable ability to harness hardware capabilities for increased portability and efficiency. It also supports non-browser embedding and integrates the existing web platform.

  • Greater personalization 

Digital personalization didn’t begin yesterday. It’s something that’s been going on for some time as developers seek to grab user attention and keep eyes glued to the screens for longer. However, what we see now is a whole new personalization level, driven by AI and machine learning.

Together, these two technologies allow brands and marketers to extract actionable insight and recommendations that can significantly boost conversions. More interestingly, developers can now easily access the requisite AI and machine learning capabilities via pre-built tools. It points to a future where AI-powered personalization will be the order of the day.

  • Natural language processing goes mainstream 

Although it’s part of artificial intelligence, it makes sense to discuss natural language processing separately. Voice searches are becoming more and more popular. Smart home devices such as Google Home and Amazon Alexa are widespread, and nearly half of all Google searches are now performed via voice. It shows where we’re headed.

As a result, developers are making every effort to make voice searches simple and as seamless and possible. The voice search engines must be able to understand and process natural language without significant obstacles. That’s where natural language processing comes in handy. Trends in the area include unsupervised and supervised learning, reinforced learning, semantic search, and cognitive-communication. Expect significant development in all these areas over the next year.

  • Modular development 

All web development processes involve a design system, i.e., an internal tool that acts as a glue holding the entire project together. The design system isn’t just about the elements used in creating the site or software application, but also includes the rules and documentation you’ll use as a base moving forward. Modular design is currently one of the most popular web application design systems and for a good reason.

Modular development builds content-rich experiences around a LEGO-style grid. It organizes all of your elements and styles, including type, color, forms, buttons, icons, voice, and media (to name just a few), allowing for greater efficiency and improved collaboration. Modular development also promises greater consistency, user acceptance, a shared vocabulary, and scalability.

  • Security trends 

Finally, applications have become prime targets for hackers. According to the US Department of Homeland Security, 90% of reported security incidents result from exploits against gaps in application code and design. As a result, developers are putting in extra hours to make their applications harder targets.

One of the top trends in the sector is proprietary development platforms as an alternative to open-source tools. A growing number of organizations are feeling overwhelmed by the demands of open-source tools. They have a learning curve and can be a pain to maintain. Other security trends in the web app development space include improved open-source interfaces, ever-present web application firewalls (WAF), and constant application monitoring.

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