What are the future web development trends for 2023 and beyond?
There's no string of code that can accurately predict where web dev will end up by 2024.
Not yet, anyway.
But we can still put together a pretty good picture of what the future's going to hold - and it's looking exciting. From container queries and cutting-edge CSS to cloud computing and its impact on our carbon footprint, here's what the world of web development's looking like in 2023 - and beyond.
Welcome the new model behind web design
2023 could be the year of the container query.
Not familiar with the term? You will be.
Container queries (also known as element queries) is a CSS feature that enables web devs to apply styles to elements based on their container's size. That's opposed to the size of the viewport or the document.
But why's that such a good thing?
Well, this would enable developers to create more modular and reusable components. They wouldn't need to rely on global breakpoints to determine when to apply styles, saving time and resources. More specifically, though, this feature would make it much easier for devs to design responsive and adaptive layouts that work on a variety of devices and screen sizes. Handy.
So as container queries become widely supported they'll become a valuable addition to any developer's toolkit.
And that's not the only tool that'll make a dev's life easier...
Subgrid could change the face of CSS
More and more developers may start to use the subgrid feature in 2023.
Why? Because this nifty CSS feature allows web developers to create grid layouts that span across both parent grids and their children. Consequently, this would allow developers to create more flexible and powerful grid layouts. Essentially, subgrids enable devs to create nested grids that adapt, align seamlessly, and are much more responsive. So watch this space.
But as new tools come to the forefront, others fall out of fashion...
Out with the old (in with the new)
Last year saw the decline of IE and iOS Safari < 16. But this doesn't just have ramifications for users; in 2023, it affects developers too.
Essentially, web developers will have fewer users to support on older browsers that don't support modern features. And this means they can more safely implement things like container queries without having to worry about compatibility issues for users who are stuck on outdated browsers. Nice.
However, it's worth noting that the web development community should always strive to be as inclusive as possible and consider users who might still be using older browsers.
On the subject of accessibility...
The web continues to become more accessible
We've talked in great depth about the importance of accessibility in web design. And the good news is that this is only set to increase in 2023. Expect to see more sites and applications include accessible features like high-contrast text, keyboard-navigable elements and captions for videos.
The public sector will also be encouraged to catch up as the Government Digital Service (GDS) plans to implement a series of changes to its Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). So with WCAG 2.2 on the horizon, expect public sector websites to become more accessible and user-friendly in 2023 as devs implement changes to meet the new standard.
Great news, right?
Well, this isn't the only positive change that's happening online...
Web development drives us towards net zero
As we continue to work towards cutting our CO2 emissions, web dev is already moving in a more sustainable direction (we've talked some more about digital driving us to net zero). But as we edge closer to 2050, each year could see even more improvements online. In 2023, some eco-friendly advancements could include:-
Continued drive for faster websites - Modern technology approaches and a wider awareness will lead to faster websites. Quick load times have multiple benefits from improved user experience, search performance and are ultimately better for the environment. Smaller, lighter websites require less electricity to be stored, delivered and rendered. On the subject of making energy efficiencies...
The industry will continue to move away from unnecessary data storage - it will reduce its electricity usage and consequent carbon footprint in a number of ways:
Data compression - compressing data before it's stored can significantly reduce the amount of storage space required (and the amount of energy needed to store it).
Data deduplication - identifying and removing duplicate copies of data can help to reduce storage requirements and energy usage.
Edge computing - by processing data closer to the source, edge computing reduces the amount of data that needs to be stored and transmitted. Again, this vastly reduces energy usage.
Cloud computing - with data storage and processing becoming centralised in data centres, resources can be shared and managed much more efficiently. In turn, this reduces the need for individual companies to build and maintain their own data storage infrastructure.
Data Management - a good data management strategy helps ensure that files are only stored for as long as they're needed. Afterwards, the data is disposed of ethically or at least archived to save energy consumption. Speaking of which...
Reducing unnecessary data collection: this helps prevent the storage of unnecessary data that would otherwise have to be stored and processed.
These are just some of the strategies that are helping to minimise the environmental impact of the digital world. But in 2023 and beyond, the web will race ahead in other ways too.
Ever-increasing web performance and page speed
We only need to look at the stats to predict that 2023 will see more improvements in internet performance and speed. In fact, the average fixed broadband speed has increased consistently over the last few years:
45.9 Mbps in 2018
52.9 Mbps in 2019
61.2 Mbps in 2020
77.4 Mbps in 2021
97.8 Mbps in 2022
So in 2023, expect to see web developers, browser vendors and technology companies continue to focus on making the web faster and more efficient. For example, browser vendors such as Google and Mozilla are actively working on improving the performance of the web by introducing new features such as WebAssembly. This technology has the ability to execute code written in other languages (such as C, C++, and Rust) at near-native speed inside web browsers. Swift.
Still, it's worth noting that web performance and page speed can be affected by a variety of factors, e.g. internet connection speed and complexity of the website. With that in mind, it's likely that not all websites will have the same performance increase in 2023. Again, user accessibility should always come first.
But to improve the experience for humans in 2023, we're going to look more and more towards machines for help.
Hi, how can I help you today?
Chatbots have come a long way in recent years. However, they've got huge potential to become even more "life-like" in 2023.
So how's that, exactly?
Well, one of the major trends in chatbot development is the increasing use of natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning (ML) technologies. These technologies allow chatbots to understand and respond to user input in a more "human-like" manner. As this tech advances, it could lead to more conversational and engaging interactions between users and chatbots. What's more, the advancements in the field of AI, e.g. with GPT-3 and similar models, allow for more natural language understanding. Essentially, more sophisticated dialogue management and context awareness will allow chatbots to handle complex conversations across multiple interactions. Impressive.
And with such powerful functionality, you can expect to see chatbots integrated into a variety of platforms and industries in future; healthcare and finance are already leading the charge.
But chatbots aren't the only way AI is going to assist us.
Generative AI will continue to grow this year
When talking about the digital trends to look out for in 2023, we mentioned the growth in generative AI.
And in our opinion, anyway, this isn't something we should be worried about. Essentially, this tech isn't going to take our jobs; you still need humans to get the best out of generative AI. Instead, it's programmed to make our lives a little easier. Here are just a few examples of how it could help:
Generic content generation - generative AI can be used to generate large amounts of content, such as text, images and videos. For example, a generative AI model could be trained to write hundreds of generic product descriptions on an eCommerce website.
Increased web accessibility - this could improve the experience by creating alternative versions of text and images; ones that can be more easily read by disabled users.
Optimisation - generative AI can identify and remove unnecessary elements that affect web performance. What's more, it could create alternative versions of images and videos that are smaller in size but load faster.
Personalisation - generative AI can be used to create personalised experiences for users by tailoring the content, layout, and design of a website based on their unique set of information (such as geo-location) or preferences.
Anomaly detection - finally, generative models could be used to identify abnormal or abnormal behaviours in data. This could be helpful for a variety of industries, e.g. fraud detection in financial transactions or detecting medical conditions.
Of course, there are always going to be ethical implications to consider with technology like this. And generative AI has already raised concerns over issues like deepfakes and bias in content. But as the technology continues to develop this year, researchers and practitioners will likely look to reduce the negative ethical and societal implications involved with the tech.
Suffice to say, 2023's an exciting time in the world of web dev. And you know what? We're just getting started.