Top 7 trends in front end web development

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New trends in web design are driving new innovations in front end development.

Front end development used to be as simple as knowing some HTML, but as designers and developers have pushed the boundaries of what the web experience can deliver, front end devs have had to upskill to keep pace.

Trends in front end development are changing as rapidly as the technology, but here are 7 that are dominating 2019 so far.

1. Static sites

Sorry, back end devs, but 2019 is seeing a return to the early days of the web. Web developers are taking a cue from web designers’ move towards minimalism to produce static websites.

Static sites are built using simple HTML and maybe a bit of CSS, and display the same for every user. Sound boring? Well, kind of. But the benefit is that it provides for a clean, straightforward design, puts content front and center and is dead easy to build.

And because it’s not storing or accessing user data, a static site is safe. That’s pretty important when tech CEOs are getting called on the carpet to explain to governments how they lost user data.

2. Even more JavaScript frameworks

If you do want to build a dynamic page, you’re not going to get far without JavaScript. It’s still the undisputed king of web development, and probably the most versatile language out there. 

JavaScript has been taken into bold new territory over the past few years with the rise of frameworks like AngularJS, React and Vue.js. These frameworks take some of the repetition out of front end development by providing vast libraries of dynamic JavaScript components and a neat structure by which to integrate them.

While Google delivered AngularJS and Facebook offered React, plucky upstart Vue.js has been making inroads to become one of the most popular JS frameworks. Expect 2019 to see even more JavaScript frameworks to speed up your development time and cut down the amount of code you have to write.

3. Motion graphics

At the other end of the spectrum from minimalism is a move toward dynamic backgrounds and motion elements for website UI. Expect to see autoplaying video and motion graphics animations take the place of a static background.

For front end web developers this means some additional styling work, but the user engagement it can promote is well worth it. Just make sure to keep an eye on page load speeds. A flashy motion background isn’t worth much if users bounce off the page before it can load.

4. Accelerated mobile pages

Since their launch in 2015, Google and Twitter have gone all-in on promoting Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMPs) to lead to a faster web experience. To build an AMP, you’ll need to strip down your usual HTML and CSS, and you can throw JavaScript on the trash heap (apart from the pre-determined JavaScript library provided by Google).

The significant upside, apart from simplicity of coding, is that AMPs load nearly instantly, regardless of the strength of the user’s internet connection. And while AMP isn’t currently used as a ranking signal for SEO, Google’s insistence on the format suggests that’s likely to change.

5. Responsive design

Accelerated mobile pages show Google’s commitment to a mobile-first internet experience, and responsive design acknowledges that. Building a slick, visually appealing website is a starting point, but in an increasingly mobile-first world your site has to look just as good on any screen size.

Fortunately, CSS makes it fairly easy to create fluid grids, layouts and image sizes. Just make sure responsiveness is top of mind when you’re coding your site.

6. Web components

Custom styling is a must for websites, but it can lead to some pretty byzantine code. And CSS styles can leak and affect the elements on your page in unexpected ways. Web components solve this problem.

Web components allow you to create custom styling using APIs to define custom HTML elements. In short, it means you write less code, cleaner code and code you can reuse.

Web components also utilize Shadow DOM, which keeps your components from interacting in a way that messes up your styling.

7. The move to full stack

The ubiquity of JavaScript and the advent of frameworks like Node.js and Meteor.js means more front end developers will begin breaking down barriers to become full stack web devs.

The move makes sense if you want to market your skills to a broad range of companies. According to Indeed, the average salary for a full stack developer in the United States is $113,404 per year, compared to $95,000 for a front end developer. And while the common criticism of full stack developers has been that they’re “jacks of all trades, masters of none,” JavaScript frameworks for back end development are making that argument obsolete.

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