Ten Web Development Trends for 2020 and Beyond

The C2 Group
Multiple Contributors

As we enter 2020, the vast majority of leading web development trends have two distinct themes - flexibility and efficiency - thread throughout. While digital continues to take on greater influence in our day-to-day lives, it’s clear that each sector – whether it be development, UX and design, or cloud – has devoted itself to delivering stronger value, performance, and consistency in the new year and beyond.

Without further ado, The C2 Group presents the web development trends we anticipate to kick-off the new decade:

Brands acquiring and partnering with martech

Brands have realized that, in order the capture a 360 view of the consumer, they must collaborate with or buy up technology companies and products. Companies like McDonalds, Walmart, and Nike are just some we saw invest fiercely in 2019 to provide personalized offerings and improve the customer experience. Already this year, Walmart’s announced its new AdTech-platform partner program, Walmart Advertising Partners, that enables brands to connect with and harness the behavior of hundreds of millions of Walmart shoppers. This comes shortly after its acquisition of adtech startup Polymorph Labs to help it better compete via online digital ads, targeted using shopper data. As Walmart looks to monetize its shopper data – both online and in-store – the company hopes to become a go-to ad network for retail manufacturers. Expect growth-oriented companies to make similar moves in the new year.

Walmart acquired adtech start up Polymorph labs in 2019 to better compete with digital advertisers in the personalization realm.

All aboard, Blazor

Coming out in May 2020, Blazor provides a framework for building interactive (front-end) client-side web UI using C# instead of JavaScript.  Since both client and server code is written in C#, Blazor will allow you to share code and libraries while making it possible to write an entire application using a single language. Blazor apps are built using components, a self-contained chunk of UI such as a page, dialog, or a form. Because of how flexible and lightweight components are, they can be nested, reused, and shared among projects. This has game-changing potential for developing browser-based applications on the web.

Blazor apps use .NET Standard to allow the same code and libraries to be used on the server, in a browser, or anywhere you write .NET code (Source: Microsoft).

Welcome to the family, .NET 5!

2020 will bring us the release of Microsoft’s .Net 5! Right now, there are many choices of run-times for Microsoft's .Net framework. This leads to fragmentation and differences in the way you develop, depending on run-time. With .Net 5, all run-times will be unified, meaning code and project files will look and feel the same no matter what type of app you’re building. While Microsoft doesn’t intend to release .NET 5 until November 2020, the first preview of the single platform should be available in the first half of the year.

Infographic demonstrating the uniformity and simplification that Microsoft .NET 5 will provide (Source: Microsoft).

API-First development and streamlined workloads

The way in which developers think about designing and building out solutions will start with APIs rather than the product, such as a website or native app. APIs are the first and most important way to access and interact with your product, so they need to be designed and developed intentionally, with the end user always in mind. Starting with the look and feel of an API, including the end user’s expectations, this enables teams to treat it as a specification to the implementation, rather than a layer on top of the product. API-first development will decrease development costs, increase speed-to-market, and deliver the best possible user experience.

APIs are created as mocks with teams testing and working with the mocked APIs. Once ready, teams can switch to the production or staging API (Source: DZone.com).

Component-based workflows

Design systems have shown us that creating isolated, extensible components mitigates duplicate work for both design and development teams while promoting continuous collaboration. Similarly, digital teams are realizing that component-based workflows create interesting opportunities for “smaller” component-based optimizations. Teams are systematically injecting usability & accessibility optimizations into products one component at a time. As teams spend less time focusing on creating new one-off components, designers and developers can spend more time optimizing the components that they already have. By improving specific facets or variations of a product, the overall library of components continues to grow and evolve as a source of truth for the basic building blocks for other digital products.

Uber's data visualization React component library (Source: Uber’s Github).

Containerization and related systems (Docker and Kubernetes)

In 2020, we’ll see more organizations take advantage of containers, microservices and related orchestration systems, like Docker and Kubernetes, to better build, manage, deploy, and work with their different applications and APIs. As teams leave behind a monolithic approach to software development, they’ll look at containers and microservices to build individual applications and services that do one thing and do it well. Containers are perfect for any enterprise company that is looking to enhance digital enterprise management via solutions that offer reliability, portability, versatility and reproducibility in a virtual environment. As a result, teams will build and ship applications quickly while having the flexibility to respond to changing business needs and challenges.

Containers bundle and run applications along with a definition of all the required support files - like bins and libraries - that the app requires to run (Image source: Docker).

Head in the (multi-) clouds

2020 will kick-start the logical path to a multi-cloud scenario while reiterating to behind teams that it’s important and vital to start dabbling with cloud in order to stay competitive, relevant, and mature in their industry. As teams start to adopt cloud into their overarching business strategies, we’ll begin to see an uptick in organizations focusing on intentionality of different clouds rather than experimentation of them. We will also begin to see more services and software begin to utilize multi-cloud and make the transition between cloud providers less of a challenge. While one cloud provider may have the market share and the most features, there may be scenarios that are important to your business case to use multiple providers or cherry-pick the best from each.

Using multi-cloud environments enables teams to cherry-pick the best features from multiple providers to address different business challenges.

Off with its head! Content (first) is king

The statement “content is king” has taken on a whole new meaning in the digital world. With an increased focus on content marketing and as multi-channel customer journeys become more relevant, CMS platforms must enable brands to elevate and share content to just about anywhere on any device. As a result, we’ll see a striking rise in popularity among headless and hybrid CMSs for their API and content-first approach to digital. Aside from being able to reach consumers just about anywhere, teams will value the flexibility and freedom that API-first CMSs grant in building out its digital experience platform.

The above infographic demonstrates how a hybrid CMS gets the best of a traditional CMS with its design focus and a headless CMS with its API-driven functionality.

Pile on the personalization

Personalization has no plans to slow down in demand this year. Previously reliant on broad audience segments, personalization will continue its evolution to be more individualized and in real-time to deliver contextually relevant experiences to users by pairing AI with user data. Although, some organizations don’t seem to understand personalization is not a flip of a switch. One of the biggest challenges in adopting and implementing effective personalization is creating the content to execute it successfully. Personalization is only as good as the content your organization serves. Companies who reap the benefits of personalization will make its CMS, data, and ecommerce platforms more effective, and as a result, compel users to stay on websites, fill out forms, and make purchases.

Personalization works collectively to combine customer, CMS, and commerce data to deliver more effective and tailored experiences to users (Image source: Episerver).

Rise of JavaScript frameworks: React and Vue.js

Organizations will continue to take advantage of React and Vue.js, two popular JavaScript frameworks. While Google trends tell us that React is more popular than Vue.js, Vue.js has become a popular choice for developers in less time since its launch in 2014. Vue.js was downloaded over 40 million times in the last 12 months and only had 4 vulnerabilities reported, all of which have been fixed. To kick off 2020, C2 has started working more intimately with Vue.js for its ease of development, interoperability with other languages, and front-end security.

Google Trends shows that Vue.js and React are neck-and-neck for Google searches over the last 12 months.

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