Already a feature on many websites, the conversational user interface is likely to become more advanced and more efficient this year. Chat bots have become a crucial component of conversational UI, providing a more personable and useful user experience. Particularly customer service chat bots have become somewhat of a website essential, regardless of what goods or services your organisation provides. It has been predicted that by 2020 85% of all customer interactions will no longer involve human assistance. Once the domain of UI and UX developers, successful front-end developers need to incorporate these tools into their existing skill set to provide the best client service. As the need for conversational UI increases, front-end developers who have overlooked this development are likely to miss out on the top jobs.
While minimalism and material design still reign supreme when it comes to interface design, the sophisticated incorporation of motion UI can breathe some life into a website. Designed to catch the user’s eye and deliver information quickly, motion UI elements such as animations, hovers, page header transitions and modular scrolling can make the difference between a passable and a seamless user experience. Until recently motion UI was often too slow to feature on mainstream sites, but the increase in internet speeds and accessibility means that more and more companies will be incorporating motion UI in their static and minimalistic websites.
The majority of web interfaces will soon become movement based. The idea of interfaces that respond to hand and eye movements may seem foreign to some, but with libraries such as tracking.js it can be made possible. Front end developers can expect movement based interfaces to enter the mainstream soon.
2017 saw a trend towards device-specific design, which will continue to be important in 2018. Companies are keen to deliver consistent branding, effective design and usability across all devices: phones, tablets, laptops, PCs and Smart TVs. It’s essential for front end mobile developments to be knowledgable about how to interface and utilise all the available sensors on mobile devices, such cameras and GPS, and familiarising themselves with different operating systems that these programs execute on.
In 2018 businesses will increasingly want to integrate an offline presence. Most apps currently require WiFi or data connectivity, so a move towards offline capabilities will be a welcome change for users. Whilst many users will continue to benefit from a reliable and consistent internet connected, the introduction of widespread offline apps will mean users are less reliant on internet hubs and WiFi hotspots. For developers who want to get ahead of the game, a focus on offline apps could mean that you’re at the front of the queue for new, advanced projects.
Although static site generators aren’t new, they have been somewhat overlooked in recent years. Web development is returning back to its roots with the surge in static websites, as all the first websites on the World Wide Web were static. Whilst static sites generally have less capability than other sites, the popularity of static site generators will continue to rise in 2017. Running off files, rather than a database, means that sites and webpages can be generated quickly. Static site generators provide improved security handling and the loading times of webpages can improve user experience. With increased speed and safety, and lower costs, it’s no surprise more and more businesses are choosing to have static websites.
Nowadays any product can be redesigned and redeveloped to incorporate internet capability, even those that are typically not connected to the internet. Rather than restricting internet use to computers and phones, most household appliances will feature some form of online connectivity. This ever-growing internet of things continues to revolutionise the way we live our lives, and although much of the initial work in this area will be carried out by back-end developers and designers, front-end developers will, inevitably, be involved. Once the technology is in place, front-end developers will be required to incorporate it into existing sites and apps. This presents a series of new challenges that front end developers will have to face in 2018 and the future at large.
Artificial intelligence is not merely one of the buzziest keywords, it is a quickly advancing force across all industries. In recent years the probable has become possible, and big tech companies are developing and releasing their own AI technology. Google uses AI to improve their search engine and Facebook’s AI robots famously developed their own language. Doomsday predictions aside, developers can use AI in new and innovative ways, such as with AI-driven website creation. Artificial intelligence can be used to create sites quickly and easily and with AI web design programs already available, these are likely to be updated and improved as the technology is refined. Destined to be a continuous game-changer in the tech industry, artificial intelligence will be a need-to-know area for successful front end developers.
While there are standalone changes to front end development in 2018, many of the upcoming key trends are indicative of a change in development and the tech industry as a whole. With new frameworks improving the applicability and usability of motion UI, it will be easier for front end developers to meet client expectations. Similarly, the use of movement, combined with conversational UI and more advanced bots, highlights the move towards improved content and increased user interaction. As users become more reliant on technology in every aspect of their lives and the use of AI becomes more commonplace, these key trends are indicative of a changing digital landscape. For successful front end developers, enhancing their skills and increasing their familiarity with new tools and trends is essential. Whilst clients will want to incorporate these new trends quickly, they’re likely to become website ‘must-have’ features by the end of the year.
Managing Director of Endorsed Direct Hiring. Larissa has worked in the technology and recruitment sector for over 10 years and knows just about everything there is to know about what it takes to hire great people.