A Glimpse Into The Future of Web Engineering
For many years now, web engineering has been charged with much of the heavy lifting done by a business. When it comes to sales, marketing, and delivery—web engineering plays a critical role in each and in many more disciplines beyond. In almost every firm today, critical resources and services are at the hands of expert web developers.
The role web engineers are expected to play within a modern business is only going to increase from here. If you need help finding those engineers, just tell us what you need. We can do the work for you and connect you with up to 5 companies within 72h that match your needs—all for free!
What web apps are capable of and what we have come to expect from them has shifted to become almost unrecognisable from the early days of the web. Today’s web apps are more robust, reliable, performant, interactive, and attractive than they’ve ever been in the past. At the same time, we expect them to perform increasingly better SEO, respond to changes, and work across a greater range of devices, screen sizes, and modes of interaction.
When it comes to web engineering, the speed at which industry changes take place is higher than almost any other area of software development. Web technologies move at such a high pace that it can be difficult to keep track of what’s coming up and what to watch out for in the future.
Here, we’ve collected some of the most advanced new technologies, tools, and techniques to watch out for in the field. Our guide can keep you on top of new changes and help you to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to the future of web engineering. And if you need help tapping into this future, check out our Comprehensive Guide to Hiring Web Engineering Teams.
The first and most obvious change to the future of web engineering comes from how users consume services and applications. You don’t need technical expertise to notice the uptake of mobile devices is a change already taking place today.
Now, more than half of internet traffic is consumed by mobile devices and tablets—a trend that is increasing year on year. For web engineers, this means creating designs that accommodate a wider range of screen sizes, layouts, and ways to interact.
Mobile-first development is as much a shift in thinking as it is a shift in technology. It treats handheld devices as a primary mode of interaction rather than an afterthought or later addition.
In practice, mobile-first means intelligent button placement, minimalistic design choices, and a non-intrusive UI that enables easier interactions. It means not adding meaningless decorative elements, avoiding the use of columns entirely, and reducing the number of pages in a web app.
Adding a mobile-oriented call to action, such as a call button or a link to directions, is a great way to build mobile-first functionality into a practical web app.
In recent years, mobile design has become critical to SEO too. Today, mobile versions of page content are being used for indexing and ranking on Google’s search engine.
Progressive Web Apps (PWAs)
Far from a new technology, Progressive Web Apps have been building in capability and maturity for some years now. More recently, PWAs have gained greater consideration amongst engineers for their ability to create native-like applications through common web technologies.
The rise in both capability and availability of PWAs makes it possible for engineers to create consistent branding and interaction across multiple platforms without adding significant development overhead.
Today’s PWAs are written using highly popular, capable, and performant frameworks such as React and Angular. As a result, PWAs are both reliable and consistent while managing to match the pace of development with related technologies.
The drawbacks present in PWAs today, in terms of outright performance and the non-native feel of interactions, are only expected to decrease over time.
E-commerce pages, media platforms, and news-based sites are going to find PWAs playing an increasingly important role within their businesses in the coming months and years. Related firms looking to stretch their development budget to cover more users and devices will get maximum return on investment from PWA technologies.
All this guarantees PWAs, a technology rooted in the present, will also be one to define the future.
Single Page Application (SPA)
Similar to progressive web apps, the single-page application is a trend that is gaining increasing momentum in the developing landscape of web engineering.
A single-page application is capable of dynamically rewriting a page as it receives new information from the server. Google has made extensive use of the technologies in services such as Google Drive, Maps, and Gmail. The success of these services, along with its use amongst other tech giants, has made uptake of the SPAs easier for companies looking to deliver their application at a smaller scale.
The benefits of single-page applications are primarily in the instantaneous and interrupted interaction a user receives from the app. By avoiding loading new pages, the feedback from the current page creates a more engaging user experience and prevents the user from turning away while waiting for a new page to load or resource to be fetched.
The single-page application is a significant development in web engineering and a trend already well established. With the benefits it brings to users, developers, and businesses, it’s one we can expect to grow in the very near future. This growth may mean you’ll need to ask candidates about it in an interview, read our article Interview a Web Developer and What to Look For to learn how to go about this.
Serverless Applications and Architecture
A technology expected to define the future of web applications, serverless applications can offer large degrees of scalability, reliability, and simplicity to developers.
In simple terms, serverless architecture defines web applications hosted by a third-party service. Where serverless architecture differs from Platform as a Service (Paas) is in the way applications are composed and deployed in practice. Truly serverless apps are composed of individual and autonomous functions aimed at maintaining scalability, not just at the application level, but at a more granular and adaptable scale.
The immediate benefit to developers is the abstraction of platform administration and hardware management into one easily defined service. By using compossible functions and components, developers are free to adapt their application to accommodate increased flexibility in deployment and create a more sustainable use of an app’s resource.
Serverless technologies are taking off in a wide range of applications and industries. Internet of Things (IoT) apps, chatbots, and services that need extensive back end processing are all turning to serverless apps to meet their demands.
The future of serverless is going to lean heavily on providers such as AWS Lambda, Google Cloud, and Microsoft Azure for some time to come. Therefore, it’s important to have a team that is used to these services. Need help finding them? Just tell us what you need. We can do the work for you and connect you with up to 5 companies within 72h that match your needs—all for free!
Increased Diversification and Specialisation
Not too long ago, the title ‘web developer’ was an all-encompassing one. The division between front-end and back-end development hadn’t even begun to take place yet, and writing a web page meant doing both at once. Today, what we call a full-stack web developer exists only as a small part of a team of engineers dedicated to providing specific parts of a web application.
The specialisation of roles we have seen across the entirety of software development is only likely to increase in the field of web engineering. As demand grows for increasingly efficient, interactive, and capable services, developers are pushed into more specialist roles to find ever greater knowledge and expertise.
In some environments today, front-end development alone has already diversified into Graphics, platform, model, toolchains, and platform development. With so many changes such as single-page and progressive web apps, significant shifts in web engineering should be readily expected.
The application interface is just one example of this rapid pace of change. Just as demand for rich UI and highly capable interfaces are taking off, interface-free interactions are paradoxically on the increase too.
The abundance of voice, face, gesture, and device recognition is consistently increasing across platforms and providing more and more value to user interactions. New modes of interaction are rapidly creating new specialist fields, such as voice search optimisation, that are becoming increasingly critical to the success of future web apps.
The Future of Web Engineering
Web engineering is one of the most business-critical roles that exists today in many firms. Touching on sales, marketing, and service delivery—it’s a department that is central to the way most businesses run. To compound the complexity of web engineering, today’s web apps are necessarily more complex, more capable, and more visible than they’ve ever been in the past.
These factors combined ensure the future of web engineering is a deeper investment in the developers, tools and platforms that make these things possible.
With so much high-speed change happening in web engineering, ever more capable, creative, and productive teams are the sole constant that keeps your services at the head of the race. If you want to know a bit more about what time of teams you need, check out our article Should You Hire Web Development Freelancers, or a Remote Web Team?
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