Trends come and go year by year. Some never materialise whilst others can stick around for decades. At the end of every year, you’ll have people across various industries and niches grabbing their crystal balls and doing their very best at predicting the future.

Whilst we’re not time travellers, nor do we possess the powers of Mystic Meg, here’s our best attempt at predicting 2023 web developer trends.

Here’s what you should keep an eye out for if you’re a web developer, marketer, business owner, MD or CEO looking to enhance your website or design and build a new website in 2023.

1. Dark mode for desktop and mobile

Dark mode has been available on web and app devices for quite some time, but within the last few years it’s had a real rise in popularity. For a lot of web and app users, dark mode is a lot easier on the eyes, particularly at night. Dark mode also helps preserve battery life on your device which is another key factor in its popularity, particularly for mobile users when people are on the move and don’t necessarily know when their next opportunity to charge their phone might come!

In 2023, we don’t expect this trend to die off, and if anything, we expect the rise in demand for the availability for dark mode to increase. With this in mind, web designers should be designing with a light/dark mode toggle for web developers to build and integrate on to both mobile and desktop websites to enhance user experience (UX) and provide them with options.

2. Mobile first web development

In a world where the smart phone continues to dominate, it’ll be no surprise to see mobile first development on this list. We spoke above about the use of dark mode and its popularity with mobile users on the move, but web development for mobile shouldn’t stop there.

Mobile devices have accounted for around half of web traffic worldwide consistently since 2017, before surpassing the 50% mark and becoming the dominant device for web traffic permanently since 2020. According to Statista, in Q2 of 2022, mobile devices (excluding tablets) generated 58.99% of overall worldwide global traffic. For the same period in previous years, mobile traffic accounted for 55.09% in 2021, 51.53% in 2020 and 48.91% in 2019. That’s an increase of over 10% when comparing stats from 2019 to 2022, and we wouldn’t be surprised to see mobile device traffic globally break the 60% mark in 2023.

3. WordPress to continue as a favoured form of web development

WordPress is the undisputed champ when it comes to its dominance of websites globally, with a reported 43% of websites worldwide using the open-source CMS. Of websites that use a Content Management System (CMS), it’s reported that around 64% of those are WordPress.

WordPress development is so popular due its flexibility. The CMS is highly customisable and allows developers the capability to provide high functionality, scalable and robust websites used by some of the biggest brands in the world. At the same time, WordPress also provides the ability to develop a website from themes provided on their platform, allowing designers and developers to create websites without the need to code. Once a WordPress site has been designed and developed, the site is relatively easy to edit for even those that are less technically inclined, making it a hugely popular choice for businesses that rely on their internal marketing teams to manage for small changes.

As an open-source platform, the WordPress community are continually adding new features that developers need to be aware of. WordPress 6.1 was released in November 2022 and included many new features including improved templates and blocks, enhanced performance and expanded functionality. As the platform shows no letting up in its popularity, we’d expect to see a roll out of further updates in 2023, as well as a continued increase in the demand for WordPress websites from business and marketing leaders across companies of all sizes.

4. AI & chatbots are becoming more intelligent

Chatbots are the most obvious examples of Artificial Intelligence being used across websites to enhance businesses customer service around the clock. Some chatbots don’t use AI and are often far than useful when it comes to providing you the vital information you require. AI-based chat features are far smarter than those not powered by AI and have advanced capabilities that include problem-solving skills and behavioural analysis that can prove a really powerful online tool when it comes to serving our users.

AI and chatbot capabilities are already pretty impressive, but everything points to further advancement to its intelligence in 2023.

It will be important for web developers in 2023 to get a grasp of Artificial Intelligence principles, Machine Learning (ML) and Natural Language Processing (NLP) to understand the user’s intent and provide a human-like experience. Developers using these technologies and methodologies in the right way to develop well-functioning virtual assistants will prove game changing for businesses and their users and help keep up with the growing demand of automation within businesses.

5. Optimising page speed with code

Whilst on-page optimisation might feel like an SEO’s job, a web developer plays a critical role in a websites page speed. The level of responsiveness, movement and animation of a website are all contributors to load time, with research suggesting users expect websites and their pages to load within two seconds. By the time the user has waited 3 seconds, the stats for bounce and exit rates shoots right up, indicating that users are impatient and expect a fast experience.

This doesn’t mean developers should be developing websites with as little functionality as possible, but to consider the users expectations and apply techniques to enable a slick, high-functioning website without compromising speed. Some methods used by web developers to optimise page speed include condensing and compressing HTML, CSS and JavaScript code, using a content distribution network and compressing images across the site.

Looking ahead to 2023, we expect the demand for movement on websites to increase which makes it even more important than ever for developers to consider site speed when planning the build of a website, and not adding unnecessary functionality for the sake of it.

6. Website movement and Motion UI

This ties in nicely with our previous point on page speed. As we mentioned above, there is an ever-increasing demand for fully responsive websites. Websites need to be visually appealing, that’s a given, but users are more drawn to websites that make them more intuitive and useable. There are tools available now that can make subtle animations and movement on a website relatively seamless to implement as a web developer, making navigation, transitions and next actions more enjoyable for the user.

One thing we envisage growing even more so in popularity in 2023 is Motion UI, which is a Sass library that enables developers to create website movement. It uses CSS Transitions and custom development animation that can be used alongside a variety of animated elements. You don’t need to be an expert in JavaScript or jQuery libraries either as it comes with around 30 pre-set CSS classes you can implement with relative ease. That said, if you’re a JavaScript or jQuery expert, these classes are customisable if you want to create something unique, so it’s a really good tool for developers at all levels, further supporting why we think Motion UI will be big in 2023.

7. Single-page applications

A Single-Page Application (SPA) is essentially a website built on one long page. Instead of the traditional home page and menu, the page is divided up into relevant sections. Users are usually able to find what they’re looking for by scrolling in one continuous motion or by clicking anchor links that will take them to their intended section of the page.

We anticipate SPAs becoming increasingly more popular in 2023 due to the continuous rise in mobile web traffic as we covered earlier. Another point we previously mentioned was page speed, which is another benefit of a SPA as it avoids loading separate HTML pages from a server to show specific pages to your users, loading instead only markup and data to dynamically render them on a single web page.

Single-Page Applications are extremely scroll friendly which can be a big benefit to mobile users specifically, depending on their preferences. That said, we’d always suggest thorough research and testing is carried out on your users before deciding if a SPA is right approach for your users or if a more traditional multi-page website might serve better.

8. The evolution of web design

This may be a list of 2023 trends for web developers, but the evolution of web design will ultimately play a huge factor in what developers will be building in 2023. Web design and web development go hand in hand so having a good level of understanding of web design trends as a web developer is always handy.

We’ve mentioned the growing popularity of movement-based interfaces, so you’ll need to be comfortable interpreting XD or Figma designs provided by web designers and be confident in developing the desired outcome. We also predict an increased demand in 2023 for larger and bolder typography, animated cursors, micro animations, custom graphics and illustrations and colour gradients to name but a few – all things we expect web developers to be applying to websites next year a lot more than previous years.

Final thoughts

Web development evolves constantly to keep in touch with the expectations and needs of website users. We’ve pointed to various emerging trends including the increase in mobile users, the demand for visually appealing and responsive websites, and the importance of site speed. But there is one thing every trend we’ve mentioned has in common – the user.

Whilst we expect these trends to take off in 2023, they may not! They might, but only for a passing moment. This is why it is vitally important to keep on top of web development trends at all times to ensure you are always providing your users with the best possible experience when they visit your website.

If you’re looking at updating your website in 2023, get in touch with us to discuss how we can help!

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