Building a Better Web: The Future of Web Development

Mobile Man / Wednesday, January 21, 2015

In this 3 part series, we’ve covered mobile, design, and development trends that matter. In this, our final post, we’ll take a look at the future of web development

Back when the web was little more than dancing hamsters1 few would have predicted the ability to stream high definition video, or develop desktop grade applications powered by the cloud. Truly the web has come an incredibly long way.

We have seen how mobile Internet access has become dominated by apps, with users eschewing the traditional browser for grids of icons across their screens. We have seen how these icons are becoming ever more numerous as apps get simpler in function - a reaction against the bloat of yesteryear.

We have looked at a number of graphic design trends - the love of flat design and its very welcome embracing of typography. We have seen how video is moving into the world of look and feel, having dominated as a content type for so long, and how 3D effects like parallax scrolling are actually much more desirable than the ‘virtually reality’ web many predicted we would now all be using.

Finally we have looked at the pure development world, the continued rise of the JavaScript framework and the maturing state of the CSS language.

So what is next? Predictions are notoriously easy to make and difficult to get right. Sticking to our categories here are three trends we hope to see a lot more of in the next few years:

1. Mobile and the move to apps

We think mobile apps will continue to simplify, but will join together in a much more cohesive manner (maybe using Facebook's ‘App links’ concept2). Right now even mobile staples like Google Maps doesn’t really understand how to interact with other content and apps on a phone. In the future apps will talk to each other intelligently, and in a way form a ‘sub’ operating system on top of Android or iOS - think of your camera app taking photos, Dropbox storing and syncing them automatically, and Facebook posting them to your friends.

What does this mean for developers? APIs will rule, and closed apps without hooks to the wider world will suffer.

2. Graphic and UX design

Mobile devices will soon outgrow their physical dimensions, with capabilities vastly outweighing the space a small screen can offer. Even laptops and tablets will seem clunky as the definition of mobile changes yet again with the advent of wearable devices. Very soon UX design will need to consider how it overlays the real world via technology like Google Glass or integrates into everyday tools like the wristwatch.

3. Development languages, frameworks and tools

Right now the cloud is all-powerful, with even the latest Xbox console offloading3 computing power remotely. The industry has long cycled between fat and thin clients, and we think the next few years will see client devices come into fashion again. They will continue to grow in power, and processing (and storage) will return locally.

The cloud isn’t going anywhere, but computers were once so large and complex they could only be owned and operated by specialists. So too the cloud will morph, and private and personal clouds will come into play. The fat client will return.

This means traditional development skills are going to be as important as ever, and JavaScript (or some variant of it like TypeScript4) might just become the most important language any developer will ever learn.