Web applications have been around since the late 1990s. They have become more sophisticated over the years, and are now used for just about any daily function, from checking email to online banking.
Every year, new web application development trends emerge, helping to create better apps that make users’ lives easier and more efficient. As we begin to enter the final stretch of 2018, we can look back at the hottest app development trends of the year to see how they are performing.
The top 9 web application development trends for 2018
Vue.js is used for building User Interfaces (UIs). It is relatively simple to use and easily integrates with other frameworks. Ideal use cases for Vue.js are single web page apps (more to come on this trend later) and front-end web app design.
It provides many different components, allowing developers to create a consistent UI while breaking development down into smaller chunks. It is being used by large companies such as Expedia and GitLab, confirming its growing popularity.
2. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and chatbots
Many users prefer the chat option over calling customer service. It is faster, and customers can easily screenshot the conversation for future reference. Advances in Artificial Intelligence (AI) app development are creating new and improved chatbots. In fact, chatbot development powered by AI is changing the landscape for customer service and sales.
Beyond 24/7 customer service, advanced chatbots are able to analyze customer data and identify levels of frustration among customers so issues can be resolved before a high level of irritation is reached. Data analysis allows chatbots to create a highly personalized user experience, ending the once-robotic feeling of automated support.
Depending on the level to which chatbots are developed, they can provide an array of services to customers and end users:
- They can provide scripted answers to simple queries. Sixty-nine percent of consumers prefer a chatbot for answers to these one-off questions.
- Chatbots can perform specific tasks, such as placing an order for a replacement part or issuing a refund.
- They can analyze customer questions to identify exactly what is being requested and then access a vast database of information to retrieve the right answer quickly.
- Advanced chatbots can also access historical interactions with users to draw connections and answer more difficult questions.
- Chatbots are becoming problem solvers, providing users with alternative solutions to issues. If, for example, a particular item is not available, a chatbot can suggest a similar item. If no seats are available on a plane, the next best flight can be presented to the customer.
As chatbot development continues, the ultimate goal is AI-powered intelligent conversations between chatbots and end users in which any problem can be resolved without human interaction.
3. Progressive Web Apps (PWAs)
PWAs are web apps that provide the look and feel of mobile apps. They merge the benefits of the web with those of mobile apps, allowing you to develop usable apps quickly and at a lower cost. Success has been proven in the market. Trivago saw an increase of 150 percent for users who added its PWA to the home screen, while Tinder cut load times from 11.91 seconds to 4.69 seconds.
They work for every user, regardless of browser, device, and location. PWAs do not need to be installed from an app store, and they can be easily shared through a URL. They are accessible through an icon on the home screen and can send push notifications.
PWAs load quickly, even on unstable networks, and offer offline support, overcoming the biggest disadvantage of mobile applications—loss of internet connectivity. This is accomplished through service worker APIs, which cache data as the user browses.
4. Blockchain technology
Blockchain is a secure, distributed, electronic ledger that can be shared among users. An unalterable record of each transaction (“block”) is recorded and timestamped. As transactions build, they are linked together into a “chain.”
Blockchain technology provides a high level of security, and it has a built-in self-policing quality. In the app world, this technology is removing intermediaries—such as advertisers and app store platforms—between app developers and end users.
AppCoins uses Blockchain technology to create a transparent app economy. It is an open and distributed protocol for app stores that is still in the early stages of implementation and rollout. There are currently 200 million active users of AppCoins, with full production rollout coming in late 2018.
Users can make in-app purchases with AppCoins. Blockchain technology provides proof that users are engaged with the app, allowing developers to reward users for their time and attention. Developers are ranked as “Trusted,” “Unknown,” or “Critical,” adding a layer of trust to app transaction.
Developers receive money in real-time from users without the hassle of fees or exchange rates, and transactions are secure. The protocol API only has to be integrated once, and then it works with all app stores that implement it. This adds efficiency to the app development process.
5. Single-Page Applications (SPAs)
SPAs are a long page that users can scroll through without having to navigate to additional pages. A prime example is Facebook, which allows users to scroll through a long feed, with all of the content available on one page.
6. Real-time web apps
Real-time web apps leave a connection open between the client and the server, allowing the server to push out new data as soon as it arrives. As app users have come to demand instant information, the use of real-time web apps is increasing.
Node.js has supported real-time web apps for some time now, but other programming languages and frameworks such as Ruby on Rails are now also jumping on the bandwagon, given the increasing demand for this type of web application.
7. Push notifications
Push notifications increase your reach to users, and they are becoming more widely used in the web app space. Users can be notified of changes to the app, and user engagement is increased.
Push notifications have added benefits for ecommerce web apps, as they can be used for promotional offers and other marketing strategies. Notifications should, of course, be well-planned and appropriately timed so end users are not inundated (and turned off).
8. Motion UI
Users want a simple website that is easy to navigate, but they do not want to be bored. Motion UI is the answer.
It is a front-end framework for building a responsive web application. Developers can add various design elements, including:
- Dynamic charts
- Slow-motion background animation
- Modular page scrolling
Motion UI adds visually engaging elements to web apps that help increase conversion rates and enhance the user experience.
9. Compatible browser extensions
Browser extensions are pieces of code that modify web browser functionality by adding features or changing the appearance of a site. Extensions used to be browser-specific—one for Chrome, one for Firefox, and so on. 2018 is seeing increased demand for browser extension compatibility.
Firefox, for example, now builds extensions with WebExtension APIs, which provides cross-browser support. Other browsers are following suit, making it easier for web app developers, as it is essential to make sure your app extensions work across all popular browsers.
As 2019 approaches, we expect these 2018 web application development trends to continue to impact the design and development process. Knowing when and how to use these advances in web app development is a key ingredient for success, making it important to stay up to date on the latest trends and how to properly take advantage of them.