Trends & forecasts for Web apps in the mobile age
Post by Daniel Dixon
Over the past several years, Web development has gone from creating a simple single static page of plain text to powering complex Web-based Internet applications for a wide range of businesses, nonprofits, government agencies and individuals.
Web apps now underpin broad swaths of customer experiences and propel back-office functions for major brands, making it easier for customers to buy goods and for employees and contractors to deliver efficient customer service.
So what’s ahead for Web apps in 2019? Here are five predictions.
Progressive Web apps will continue to displace native apps
1Since the start of the mobile revolution, users and companies have been limited to two platforms for mobile apps, Android and iOS. For a long time, native mobile app development was a worthwhile investment — until the mobile app marketplace became saturated, with users firing up an average of four to six mobile apps per day, according to Statista.
Progressive Web apps are essentially mobile websites that look and act like native mobile applications. They provide similar benefits of a mobile application: They’re fast, reliable, work offline, increase conversions and enhance loyalty. But they do all that without the hassle and cost of development and maintenance that a mobile app needs.
More sites will design & build for mobile first
2Historically, any Web design company and their clients have tackled the desktop side of any Web app first before they embark on the mobile side, but this will change as mobile usage has already overtaken desktop usage. About two-thirds of Web traffic now comes via mobile devices.
Employees, too, have long used desktop versions of applications to get tasks done, with field representatives having to load up workplace applications on smart devices, slowing down their productivity in the process.
With an increased emphasis on mobile-first development, Web developers will be able to start with the most important functions and content for the user while working their way up to a larger screen to improve the overall user experience across devices. (Usually, they have to design a large-screen desktop website and remove features and content as they make it smaller to fit each device.)
In addition, Google has rolled out a mobile-first approach to index the mobile version of any website first to determine rankings since more users access Google on mobile devices. This, in turn, will force marketers and Web designers to place the emphasis on mobile devices.
More businesses will build their own APIs
3Not to get too techie, but keep an eye on APIs. APIs, or application program interfaces, are sets of protocols that provide instructions on how software components should interact with each other. For example, you can sign into any of thousands of websites using your Facebook log-in (though you probably shouldn’t take this shortcut!).
APIs are revolutionizing entire industries like financial services with open banking, allowing for more innovation across the sector. In a modern enterprise and in our more connected business world, APIs allow data to be shared easily across companies, systems and departments, allowing for more innovation and saving on future integration costs. And a smart, agile company creates its own APIs, giving customers more pathways to participate in its online experience.
Just as you spend the time to design your user interface and experience for users, Web developers should invest time to design your API: what it exposes and what it does as well as documentation to appeal to developers who will leverage it to create to create value for their own clients.
Your company can tap into free external research and development by opening up an API that exposes certain functionalities, allowing other developers across the globe to build their own products that could help your customers and expand your brother further (see this Forbes article on open innovation).
You can also use APIs to connect different departments to share data points and performance metrics to help each department perform better. A basic example is a sales team having an application that automatically updates them of the current inventory in real time during their customer engagements.
We’ll see a rise in chatbots as a customer service tool
4Chatbots are essentially humanlike customer assistants that intelligently help users with predictable inquiries, repetitive tasks, or frequently asked questions. What’s nice is they can use machine learning to improve their performance while learning from past results.
In the previous years, chatbots were frowned upon, as they were not only terrible to use but users did not like the idea of talking to a robot and preferred to have actual human conversations.
But times are changing and the chatbot market has grown, with Grand View Research predicting it will be worth $1.2 billion by 2025 and that 45 percent of end users prefer using them as a primary mode of communication in customer service.
Machine learning & personalization will continue to grow
5In 2019, one-size-fits-all Web experiences won’t cut it anymore as customers and employees expect a personalized experience when using a Web application.
Technology giants such as Amazon, Facebook and Netflix once used personalization as a competitive differentiator, but users have since then been conditioned to expect it whenever they venture online. Hence, businesses have to develop their Web apps with real-time personalization in mind — and this can be achieved with machine learning.
Personalization at scale can lead to up to 30 times more conversions when users visit (according to Gartner). It also leads to increased productivity with your employees if applications are tailored to service their needs.
Overall, I’m looking forward to what 2019 will bring. We really are in for an exciting year in Web development.