Developing Offline Websites
These days a growing number of people are browsing from their mobile phones and tablets. This has lead to a trend in which users are not always connected to the internet, but their desire for content to consume while offline still exists.
Whether users are offline while commuting to and from work, whether it’s due to them being on holidays and only having internet access in varying capacities, or if it’s because they live in a country without stable 3G networks, there are many people today eager to look at content when in offline mode.
For any business, website or blog looking to gain an advantage over their competitors, installing and configuring a few free plugins from Mozilla can make any WordPress powered website fully available in offline mode for any user on most of the browsers out there.
This means that business owners and webmasters can install a so-called “service worker script” which will provide the offline functionality, and it’s even possible to go one step further, and build a full “progressive web app” which can be installed like a mobile app on visitors devices.
Mozilla, the developers of the popular browser Firefox have recently published a set of 4 plugins to help WordPress site owners implement both offline features and progressive web app enhancements, all for free.
Using AI or Machine Learning
One of the hottest words in the world of tech in 2016 has to be Artificial Intelligence. While we’re still years and years away from having proper AI, developers have come close with implementing machine learning on a variety of technologies and concepts, including web development.
There are now tools out there which will wireframe an entire website design based on machine learning that’s analysed a large amount of websites and their various metrics such as bounce rates, conversion rates and overall engagement, and in turn come up with the best possible layouts.
This is probably one of the more interesting innovations for web developers out there, removing some of the guess work and subjective opinions, allowing developers and clients to identify the best converting designs out there, based on data and numbers, rather than impulse and emotion.
Especially in terms of UI and UX we are seeing successful implementations of machine learning, not just on design and layout generation, but also in terms of customizing layouts, content and options to suit individual visitors needs, based on their previous history.
Web developers going mobile first
As the numbers of mobile users keep on growing, and the amount of desktop and laptop users are still declining, web developers saw 2015 as the year to begin developing websites with the mantra “mobile first.”
This year has seen that trend take off, and some outspoken influencers, for instance Benedict Evans, even go as far as to say instead of developing mobile-first solutions, we should consider developing mobile-only.
This might be taking things a bit too far, but could very well be the reality for many web developers a few years from now, if the current mobile trends continue.
Regardless of one’s own opinion of this trend, it’s clear to anyone looking at browser and device usage statistics, that mobile phones and tablets are now the #1 traffic source, in turn attracting a larger amount of resources than traditional website development in 2016.
Generating static pages from dynamic content
With the average website page now clocking in at more than 2.3MB, website owners the world over are feeling the pain put forth by Google and Bing, penalizing these websites due to their lack of speed.
While some heavy websites have a well performing site in terms of load times, an average of 5 seconds load time has now become normal, even though we’ve increased both the hardware of our devices, as well as our internet speeds.
To combat this, web developers are turning back to one of the oldest forms of websites, static ones. While this might appear to be taking a step backwards, I’d go as far as to say we’re taking a step forward.
While the backend is more dynamic than ever, having a static frontend can do wonders for websites the world over, decreasing page sizes and load times, while offering users a better experience in turn.
This can only be a good thing, since, in my opinion, both web developers, webmasters and business owners should consider the visitor’s experience as the most important metric out there.
WordPress plugins are now appearing which allows for easy static content, cutting down on database calls, and coupled with plugins cleaning up inline CSS styles, merging scripts and fonts into single files, it’s possible to truly enhance one’s website.