The front ends of modern websites have an impossible task. They need to deliver increasingly complex experiences and applications. They need to support the accessibility needs of diverse users from a variety of backgrounds and abilities. And they need to load at the speed of light.
To accomplish these performance challenges, front-end developers are turning to innovative technologies, frameworks, and design approaches. Here’s an overview of the trending technologies in 2022 that are transforming front-end development.
What is Front-end Development?
When you load a website or application, the experience consists of two environments.
The back end is what you don’t see that underpins the digital experience, including servers, applications, and databases.
In contrast, the front end is everything that a user sees and interacts with in their browser. The front end includes buttons, text, links, design, and the overall user experience.
Front-end developers create everything the user sees and interacts with in their browser. On a more technical level, front-end developers code in client-side programming languages and build high-performing websites that work in every browser.
Front-End Design Trends
Accessibility is more than a trend. But there is growing emphasis on designing websites to accommodate users from a diverse range of backgrounds and abilities. Front-end developers are committing to accessible online experiences that every visitor can navigate.
However, the process of making the web more accessible is still a work in progress. In 2020, 98% of the top one million websites didn’t offer full accessibility features. This gap in accessibility has a tangible impact on online business.
Research by Click-Away Pound has shown that 69% of users with disabilities leave problematic websites, resulting in £17.1 billion ($20.7 billion) in lost business in the United Kingdom in 2019. Given that the UK’s GDP makes up 3.23% of the global economy, we estimate the global impact of website inaccessibility to be $641 billion each year.
On a technical level, the trend toward accessibility is also tied to a number of website performance metrics. Inclusive design has been shown to improve conversions, boost SEO performance, and increase traffic.
Gone are the days of waiting several minutes for a page to load. With 1.9 billion websites online, today’s users know that a slow page isn’t worth waiting for — and expect pages to load instantly. As a result, the standards of web development are converging toward extremely fast loading times.
Modern front-end developers must carefully weigh their design decisions against these increasingly aggressive website performance standards.
In 2020, 68.1% of global website traffic came from mobile devices. Savvy front-end developers recognize that we live in a mobile-first world and build websites with this concept in mind. Mobile-first design is a design philosophy that aims to create better user experiences by prioritizing performance on mobile devices.
The concept of mobile-first design has been around since 2010, but its adoption has accelerated due to shifts in industry standards and consumer habits. With Google Search now practicing mobile-first indexing, mobile-first design has evolved from a cutting-edge design principle to a non-negotiable approach to web development.
Trending Tools and Technologies
GraphQL is an open-source data query and manipulation language developed by Facebook in 2012. Despite being over a decade old, global interest in GraphQL has been trending for the last three years. And it’s easy to see why.
Neither a front-end or back-end language, GraphQL can be thought of as a language between the two environments that facilitates the exchange of information. This gives front-end developers more autonomy to create or change endpoints without the help of back-end developers. Fast, flexible, and developer-friendly, GraphQL is trending with front-end developers and teams looking to work with APIs.
Progressive Web Apps
PWAs have gained widespread adoption for their responsiveness, ease of installation, low development costs, and increased functionality. With billion-dollar companies such as Starbucks, Uber, Pinterest, and Spotify building their businesses around this technology, progressive web apps are quickly becoming standard in web development.
PyScript is an emerging Python framework created by Anaconda that enables developers to code Python directly in their browser by interleaving Python in HTML.
This technology is significant because it makes Python – a backend language – accessible to front-end developers. Developers can now leverage the capabilities of Python to create front-end applications using tools they wouldn’t otherwise have access to.
Beyond the technical possibilities, the launch of PyScript is a pivotal moment in front-end development. If PyScript is successful, it could inspire software providers to build frameworks that make other back-end languages and functionality available to front-end developers.
Server-side rendering is the web development practice of rendering a web page on the server side instead of the client side. This offers a number of advantages, including faster load times, improved user experience, and better search engine optimization. However, there are some disadvantages, as server side rendering is more expensive to host and complex to develop. With these constraints, not every team is going to have the resources to invest in the upfront cost of server-side rendering.
Over the next few years, developers and technology companies might be able to work around this problem by creating tools and frameworks that make server-side rendering less resource intensive.
Single Page Applications
A single-page application (SPA) is an application or website that dynamically rewrites an existing web page with new data from the server. This approach replaces the traditional method of loading new pages in the browser. SPAs create a more dynamic user experience with performance improvements and a more responsive front end. However, there are some tradeoffs, as they are harder to maintain and may have a negative impact on search engine optimization.