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It's vital to keep your finger on the pulse.
Technologies are born every day, and developers are always finding new ways to apply current technologies.
With roughly 200 million active websites online, according to Internet Live Stats, competition is fierce. Businesses need to innovate constantly to stay ahead of their rivals — or risk being left behind.
To stay relevant, you need to know about the top trends in web development in 2020. As Mark Zuckerberg said, "Figuring out what the next big trend is tells us what we should focus on."
But there's a lot going on.
From chatbots to motion user interface (UI), and blockchains to accelerated mobile pages — what trends in web development should you focus on?
Here's a list of 7 of the top trends in web development in 2020:
Some of these web development trends have been around for a while, but widespread adoption can lead to impactful changes. As a result, these are ones to watch.
What is motion UI? It’s a form of web animation that helps bring websites and apps to life.
Motion UI is used to create intuitive animations that guide users through a digital experience. These animations can communicate where the user should focus their attention or what action they should take next.
Let's check out some motion UI examples. Most developers use motion UI to help guide users through simple tasks, such as creating a calendar event, purchasing products or learning more about a contact.
However, the technology also can be used for more creative digital experiences, such as Spotify's Listening Together campaign.
"Motion helps make UIs expressive and easy to use," writes Jonas Naimark, a motion designer on Google’s material design team.
As a result, motion UI can help keep users engaged — a job that isn’t easy when people generally lose concentration after 8 seconds, according to a study from Microsoft.
However, Naimark goes on to say, "Despite having so much potential, motion is perhaps the least understood of all the design disciplines. This may be due to it being one of the newer members of the UI design family."
It's this abundance of potential that is driving this web development trend in 2020.
Gone are the days when a simple web page was enough to "wow" internet users.
These days, web developers need to create unique, engaging digital experiences to stand out — and motion UI is the technology that can help.
As developer Arpit Agarwal says, "Motion subconsciously builds the personality of your application. Much like layout, spacing, typography and colors."
To begin using motion UI, consider using an existing animation library, such as Zurb's open-source motion UI library.
The key takeaway: People's attention spans are relatively short. So, use motion UI to engage users and lead them through the digital experience.
Responsive web design (RWD) is an approach to web design that creates sites that render effectively on all screen or window sizes.
Here's a responsive web design example from e-commerce software-as-a-service (SaaS) company Shopify:
Responsive web design is a reasonably old trend in web development. However, it’s more important than ever due to the rapid increase in mobile device use and Google's planned algorithm changes.
According to Statista, in the last quarter of 2019, mobile devices (excluding tablets) were responsible for 52.6% of global website traffic — dominating desktop traffic, perhaps, once and for all.
This makes responsive web design essential in 2020. But that isn’t all.
The world has prioritized mobile devices — and Google is following suit. In March 2020, Google said, "To simplify, we'll be switching to mobile-first indexing for all websites starting September 2020."
What exactly does this mean? Google developer advocate John Mueller explains:
"Currently, Google looks at the desktop version of a site and then bases how it will rank the mobile site according to that information. Once this update rolls out, the opposite of that will happen. Google will begin looking at your mobile site and from that, will rank the desktop site."
Although the update officially rolls out in September, Google revealed that 70% of websites shown in search results have already been switched over. Consequently, mobile-first websites must become the norm — and mobile web design the priority.
So, what should you do to adapt? Google explains:
"If you have a responsive site or a dynamic serving site where the primary content and markup is equivalent across mobile and desktop, you shouldn't have to change anything. If you have a site configuration where the primary content and markup is different across mobile and desktop, you should consider making some changes to your site."
To check if your site's markup is equivalent across desktop and mobile, input the URLs of both versions into Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool and compare the results.
Start by taking inventory with Google's mobile-friendly test tool:
The key takeaway: The internet is now mobile-first. Make sure your website is responsive and fully optimized for mobile devices.
Accelerated mobile pages — also known as "Google AMP" — is an open-source technology that enables you to create websites, ads and stories that load almost instantly on mobile devices.
And they work on all major browsers, including Chrome, Safari, Firefox and Edge.
Now, this web development trend might be more prevalent than you realize.
More than 31 million domains have created more than 5 billion accelerated mobile pages. And many big-name brands use accelerated mobile pages to deliver content to their audiences, including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, The New York Times, BBC News and The Washington Post.
Indeed, it's getting more and more difficult to find a news story at the top of Google that isn't served on an accelerated mobile page.
To identify an accelerated mobile page, simply look for the lightning bolt icon in the search engine result pages (SERPs):
OK, but what's all the fuss about? In one word: speed.
Google started this web development trend so that businesses could avoid frustrating users with slow-loading web content. As a result, accelerated mobile pages are fast — very fast.
So, how can this trend in web development help you?
Speed isn't just a nicety: It can lead to massive improvements.
Forrester's Total Economic Impact Study found accelerated mobile pages lead to a 10% increase in web traffic while doubling the amount of time spent on a page.
If that isn’t enough, e-commerce websites using accelerated mobile pages received a 20% increase in sales conversions compared to non-amp pages.
Accelerated mobile pages can also aid your SEO efforts — especially if you want to rank content in Google's Top Stories Carousel. This carousel only uses AMP cache to display pages on mobile devices.
How can you get started?
To create accelerated mobile pages, you need to create a separate version of your site with its own unique URL, such as "site.com/page/amp."
To dive in, check out Google's library of guides and tutorials on accelerated mobile pages.
The key takeaway: Fast loading pages provide numerous benefits — and accelerated mobile pages can help you capture them.
Chatbots are artificially intelligent (AI) software applications that simulate a conversation or text-based chat using natural language.
Many businesses use chatbots for customer service, such as SaaS company Salesforce:
Chatbots aren’t a new web development trend, but in 2020, they're set to take the world by storm.
Why? Simply put, Chatbots are more effective than they were, and people are getting used to them.
About 40% of U.S. consumers have used chatbots to engage with the retail industry. And more than 50% of respondents said they'd prefer a chatbot over a human agent to update an address or tell them their account balance.
Plus, consumers don't want to wait for an available agent — they want an immediate response.
The study from Live Person went on to say that, in the U.S., 90% of consumers "agree" or "strongly agree" that they're more likely to do business with a company that can answer their questions immediately.
This creates an exciting opportunity for forward-thinking businesses.
MIT's Technology Review found nearly 90% of businesses reported faster complaint resolution with chatbots.
Chatbots can also free up business resources usually spent on customer service agents. So much so, that Juniper Research predicts chatbots will save businesses and consumers more than 2.5 billion hours by 2023.
What’s more, according to Drift's chatbot report, most people predict that they would use chatbots to get quick answers or resolve problems.
To create a chatbot, consider using an existing chatbot service, such as:
Alternatively, you could build a chatbot on Messenger or Twitter.
The key takeaway: Consumers appreciate the benefits of chatbots, and businesses can use them to improve the user experience while conserving valuable resources.
Browser push notifications — also known as web push notifications — are pop-up messages that can be sent to users via desktop and mobile web browsers.
These little messages are a powerful marketing channel.
Why? One reason is that users must opt-in to receive them. This makes browser push notifications a form of permission marketing — a concept introduced in 1999 by marketing expert Seth Godin.
In other words, users who opt-in want to hear from you!
According to the push notification service PushPushGo, the average click-through rate (CTR) of browser push notifications is 12% — and this figure rises to 15% for automated campaigns.
This might not seem like much, but according to Mailchimp, the average click-through rate for emails is 2.62% percent.
So, by these estimates, browser push notifications are 4 to 5 times more effective at engaging users than email marketing.
Plus, it's easy for website visitors to sign up. All they have to do is click "accept" — no email necessary.
Additionally, ad blockers and email spam filters won't prevent your message from reaching the intended recipient. In other words, your marketing messages are likely to be seen.
You can use browser push notifications to provide recommendations, discounts, upsells, cross-sells, abandoned cart prompts and more.
To get started with this web development trend, consider using a browser push notification service such as:
Alternatively, consider using a WordPress plug-in.
The key takeaway: Browser push notifications are a powerful marketing channel that's simple to implement.
With voice search, we no longer need to type a query into a search engine, website or app — we can simply speak it instead.
Voice search has been around for a while — today, Apple's Siri, Google Assistant, Microsoft Cortana and Amazon Alexa are household names — but this web development trend is booming in 2020.
A report from eMarketer claims that, by 2021, the number of U.S. voice assistant users will reach a whopping 122.7 million. That's 42.2% of U.S. internet users and 36.6% of the U.S. population.
What's more, 55% of all households globally are expected to have voice assistants by the end of 2022. And more than a quarter of U.S. adults now own a dedicated smart speaker, such as a Google Nest Mini.
It's no wonder voice search is growing in popularity — it's fast, easy and convenient. Still, how does this trend in web development affect you?
Voice search is revolutionizing SEO and web optimization.
To stay ahead of the game, businesses need to create voice-based applications and websites that users can find and interact with through voice search.
Voice commerce is expected to grow to more than $80 billion a year by 2023. So, consider developing an application for smart speakers to sell via voice search.
It's also worth knowing what voice search users want to receive from brands. According to a report from Google, people use voice search to access customer support, get tips to make life easier and discover information about deals, events and local businesses.
When you start voice search optimization, remember that people type and speak in very different ways. For example, someone might type "local restaurant reviews," but they might say, "which restaurant should I eat at tonight?"
Consider the differences in natural language phrasing and use conversational language in your searchable content.
To discover voice search optimization suggestions, check out the popular SEO tool AnswerThePublic. It reveals popular search query phrases for any given topic.
The key takeaway: Start voice search optimization now and get ahead of the game.
What's blockchain technology?
A blockchain is a series of unalterable records of data that are managed and recorded by a group of computers that don’t belong to any one particular entity.
Each block of data is secured and tied to the next with cryptographic principles, creating a “chain.” The information on the chain is transparent, unalterable and open for anyone and everyone to see.
In simpler terms, think of blockchain technology a bit like a Google doc.
When we share a Google doc with other people, the document is distributed to everyone — it's not copied or transferred. This means that everyone can access and modify the document at the same time. Plus, all modifications are recorded in real-time and a record is kept for anyone to see what changes have been made.
Blockchain technology has been around since the early 1990s, so it's hardly a new trend in web development.
However, since it gained significance in 2008, blockchain technology has challenged the status quo in remarkable ways.
Blockchain is becoming more and more prevalent.
For example, Wikimedia now accepts bitcoin donations, AT&T customers can use BitPay to pay online bills and businesses using Shopify can accept cryptocurrency payments.
And today, there are nearly 50 million blockchain wallets globally.
It's no wonder forecasts suggest that spending on blockchain solutions will continue to increase, reaching nearly $16 billion annually by 2023.
The infrastructure supporting blockchain technology now includes hardware providers, software developers, legal regulators and more. And major financial institutions are researching and developing blockchain technologies to protect user data and capitalize on crypto trading.
As a result, blockchain technology is sure to influence web development in numerous ways.
The key takeaway: Blockchain technology is revolutionizing the internet. Take the time to determine whether it’s the right technology for your business to invest in.
Web development trends evolve fast.
New technologies are created every day, and many existing technologies are experiencing widespread adoption.
To compete, it's vital to be aware of the top trends in web development.
As former professional hockey player Wayne Gretzky said, "A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be."