The 7 Most Important Web Dev Trends for 2018

The field of web development is constantly evolving. New technologies are created all the time, and web dev trends are changing every year. Websites designed in 2016 are already starting to feel outdated, and websites from 2017 will soon follow suite. If you want to design great websites that look & feel amazing, you’ll need to stay on the cutting edge of technology. Here are the 7 most important web dev trends for 2018:

7. Motion UI

web dev trends motion ui
We’ve come a long way since the early days of the internet. Gone are the bland white pages filled with Times New Roman text and plain blue underlined links that turned purple after you clicked on them. Gone are the flash animations, the comic sans fonts, the gaudy word-art images that didn’t do much more than distracting the viewer from the actual reason she’d come to the website in the first place.

Today, web designers & developers focus on building elegantly functional user interfaces. Every design element is crafted to create a simple, smooth, intuitive user experience. In the past, web designers created fancy animations for the sake of creating fancy animations. Today, animations are used to help guide the user to interact intuitively with the website’s intended functionality.

While there have been many frameworks created for animations over the past few years (we highlighted animate.css back in 2016, for example), Motion UI has gained popularity in 2017. We predict that Motion UI will continue to grow in popularity and functionality in 2018 and beyond.

6. Real-Time Web Apps

web dev trends real time web apps

Don’t you love the way that you can see those three little “typing” dots, that appear and animate when someone is typing a message on Facebook? Or the way that twitter automatically updates your feed as soon as someone publishes a tweet? Well, so does everyone else. Users are beginning to expect real-time functionality. Websites that need to be refreshed or reloaded in order to update the user’s view are already starting to feel old-school and clunky.

Real-time web apps use websockets to keep a connection open between the server and the client, to allow for a continuous, real-time flow of information. This makes a website feel more “live,” increases user engagement, and improves user experience.

JavaScript was ahead of its time in providing real-time web app functionality through node.js. It has only been more recently that other frameworks (Ruby on Rails’ “ActionCable”, for example) have incorporated websockets and real-time web app functionality.

5. Cybersecurity

web dev trends cybersecurity

2017 was the year of newsworthy hacks. 2018 will be the year of cybersecurity.

Over the past few years, hackers have breached, among other things:

  • Electrical and industrial infrastructure, causing huge amounts of structural damage and even a city-wide blackout in Kiev
  • Equifax, stealing the credit card numbers and social security numbers of more than half of the US population (!!!)
  • Over three billion (!!!) Yahoo accounts
  • Hospitals, shutting down emergency rooms and medical procedures in the UK with the wannacry ransomware attack

But it’s not just large institutions, corporations & organizations that are under attack. At the end of 2017, thousands of run-of-the-mill WordPress websites (maybe even your own!) were infected by cryptocurrency mining and keylogging malware.

Hackers make money by injecting these pieces of code into “normal” websites like yours and mine. When a visitor lands on your page, the virus gains access to the user’s computer, mining cryptocurrencies in the background (which can damage your customers’ phones & computers), and logging everything they type into form fields (including usernames and passwords).

In 2017, people began to realize the importance of cybersecurity. This is why we see it as an important web development trend of 2018.

4. Single-Page Websites

web dev trends single page website

In the past, web developers focused on creating “deep” websites, with complex navigation and hierarchical menus. The home page was just the home page. You’d need to click on “about us,” “team,” or “our services” to get to the information you were actually interested in.

Over the past few years, we’ve seen a trend toward single-page websites. Instead of separating content into many different pages (requiring users to use menus and load pages to navigate the website), single-page websites put everything on the homepage. Users can easily scroll to access information. This is especially convenient for mobile users, who can scroll through your website with a flick of the thumb.

3. Chatbots, Voice-Based Interfaces & AI

web dev trends chatbots
Continuing along the lines of convenience and intuitive user experience, artificially intelligent chatbots & voice-based interfaces are on the rise.

Siri, Alexa, Cortana and Google Assistant are battling it out in the voice arena. Voice-based interfaces can now answer common questions, search the web, and even order you a dollhouse. They are continuing to improve every year, and the same will be true in 2018.

At the same time, chatbots are revolutionizing the way people interact with websites. We can talk all day about single-page websites, material design, and motion UI, but chatbots are perhaps the most intuitive user interface imaginable. Users simply talk to the chatbot, and the chatbot responds. Accessing information couldn’t possibly be any easier.

Chatbots are currently being used to replace customer support teams, marketing campaigns, and content delivery systems. They are being deployed to chat apps like Facebook Messenger, websites, web apps, and more. When it comes to revolutionizing user interface design, 2018 will be the year of the chatbot.

2. JavaScript

web dev trends javascript

JavaScript was one of the most important web development trends for 2017 (and arguably one of the most important web development trends of all time), but it is only growing in importance for 2018.

Libraries and frameworks like Node, Angular, Vue.js, and React.js are developing quickly, making JavaScript more popular, more powerful, and more extensible every year. Through these new technologies, JavaScript developers are now able to create real-time, responsive, scalable, single-page web (and mobile!) apps, with a minimum of effort.

However, it’s important to note that client-side JavaScript can often slow down page load times significantly — especially on mobile devices. Since mobile traffic is becoming more and more important, JavaScript developers need to pay extra attention to the ways in which their code will affect the website’s overall loading time and mobile performance.

JavaScript is the programming language of the internet. As the internet grows in importance, so does JavaScript. It is for that reason that we dub JavaScript the silver-medal winner in our list of Most Important Web Dev Trends for 2018.

1. Mobile First Design

web dev trends mobile first accelerated mobile pages

Mobile-first design takes the top spot, as the most important web dev trend for 2018.

Internet users are ditching desktop/laptop browsers in favor of smartphones at an accelerating rate. 2017 was the first year in which more than 50% of web traffic, worldwide, came from mobile devices.

Percentage of all global web pages served to mobile phones from 2009 to 2017 (

web dev trends mobile first design

This trend toward mobile web browsing necessitates a trend toward mobile web development.

Thinking Differently About Mobile Design

web development trends mobile first design

For one thing, mobile-first design requires developers to think a little bit differently. When designing a user interface for a laptop screen, a developer doesn’t really need to think about the user’s thumbs. But when designing for a smartphone, thinking about thumbs can actually make a difference in the user’s experience.

Comfortable Thumb Usage on Various Apple Smartphones

Google, AMPs, and PWAs

Google has taken a leading role in pushing the internet toward a mobile-first development paradigm. Google’s search engine ranking algorithms now place a lot of weight upon a website’s mobile usability. So if you care about Google SEO and you don’t want to lose half of your search traffic, you’d better start focusing on mobile-first development principles.

But Google isn’t just promoting mobile-friendly websites and hiding clunky ones through its search engine algorithms. Google’s developers have actually put a lot of time, energy, and resources into building frameworks, like Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) and Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMPs), for mobile-first development. These frameworks allow web developers to create extremely mobile-friendly websites, that load fast, respond instantly, feel “native” to mobile phones (just like native smartphone apps), deliver push notifications, and even add an icon to a smartphone’s home screen.

With all of these incredible tools, it would be foolish for any web developer to ignore mobile-first development trends in 2018.

Closing Thoughts

For 2018, we expect to see the continuation of ongoing trends focusing on user engagement, cybersecurity & usability. Every trend on our list makes web surfing easier, safer, and more engaging for internet users. There are, however, sometimes conflicts between trends — forces competing and interacting with one another.

Client-side JavaScript and mobile-first design don’t exactly go hand in hand. JavaScript can slow down page load time significantly, especially on mobile devices. Consequently, Google’s mobile-first AMP platform intentionally limits JavaScript usage.

For now, that means that developers will have to choose between JavaScript and mobile-first design, or at least try to find some kind of happy medium. In the long run, though, both JavaScript and mobile-first design will continue to grow in importance. These two megatrends will inevitably need to learn to play nicely together.

Google’s AMP platform is unlikely to ease up on its anti-JavaScript stance as long as developers continue to use JavaScript in ways that interfere with page load times and mobile performance. The onus will be on the JavaScript community to find ways to adapt, to self-regulate, and to evolve in a more mobile-friendly direction. We may even see some new mobile-oriented JavaScript frameworks developing in the near future. In that case, mobile-first JavaScript could easily become one of the most important web development trends for 2018, and beyond.

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