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Four website development trends for 2023

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Making trend predictions for the coming year always comes with the inherent risk of looking a bit silly when you get to December, just in case you got everything wrong! But I find it’s also a useful exercise in thinking about the wider environment and reflecting on your own plans for the year.

Late last year we published my thoughts on what we’re likely to see in the digital customer experience and digital experience platform (DXP) space. Now, it’s the turn of the coders with four related website development trends that we’re likely to see in 2023.

  1. Low code no code solutions will influence simpler website builds
  2. In my recent predictions for digital customer experience trends, I wrote about how the continuing march of low code no code solutions will empower digital marketers, making them become more self-sufficient and less reliant on development resources. One question the developer community needs to consider is how this continuing trend will impact us. Does it ultimately make IT developers less valuable and important? I think the answer is no, but in 2023 low code no code solutions will certainly start to increasingly influence how websites are built, and that in turn my change the role of coders.

    I think we’re a very long way off low code no code solutions meaning that we no longer need frontend and backend developers. For larger complex, enterprise website projects, digital marketing teams are still very dependent on their digital agency partner or colleagues in IT, and it is essential to have professional developers who know what they’re doing from a security, governance and quality perspective.

    But for some simpler, quicker websites or microsites, using a low code no code solution that comes with ready-made templates and configuration options may be a quicker way to market, creating a site in days rather than weeks and needing for less involvement from development resources. Increasingly integrations that previously needed solutions can also be carried out through out-of-the-box connectors, for example creating workflows with tools like Zapier and Twilio. Low code no code solutions are getting more intelligent and flexible.

    There’s also some scope here for developers to leverage low code no code solution themselves to also rapidly prototype a site to help get user feedback on a site which can then evolve into a final product which is augmented with more traditional CLI-driven software development. Low code no code approaches can also be useful for helping to support a composable architecture – a current DXP trend – where solutions work together again through a pre-existing connector library.

    Ultimately low code no code provides more options for digital marketers and for developers. Before every project, it’s worth considering options and working the best approach in terms of what is trying to be achieved, the ongoing management effort and the associated cost.

  3. Developers must prioritise security in everything they do
  4. Of course, cybersecurity has always been a priority, but the level and sophistication of attacks has continued to grow, particularly as more businesses have ramped up their digital presence since the outset of the pandemic. Some sources suggest that the UK has the highest number of cybercrime victims per million internet users compared to other major Western powers, with figures which have grown by 40% from 2020 to 2022.

    In 2023 developers need to prioritise security in everything they do – it’s an area where there is no real room for compromise. For example, a data breach can not only result in legal action or a fine, but also cause considerable reputational damage.

    Every single developer needs to stay up to date and receive security-related training. They also need to be vigilant, exercise the right judgement and have a security-first mindset. Lifting code off GitHub or ChatGPT that hasn’t been tested or come from a reputable source has inherent risks.

    Investing in the right tools and approaches is also key. For example, ensuring there are robust DevOps processes, having the right testing and monitoring toolset for new developments as well as ongoing sites and infrastructure and never cutting corners with processes such as pen testing, should provide a robust framework for maximizing security.

  5. Websites need to be greener with sustainability now a consideration
  6. Sustainability is now a major consideration in corporate decision-making, including the use of technology. The need to reach sustainability targets and pressure to be accountable in terms of carbon footprint is a dynamic that is likely to only grow in importance in 2023. This can include pressure to make websites greener; increasingly it is becoming unacceptable to “boil the ocean” with a website infrastructure that contributes to a carbon footprint, when this can be avoided. Interestingly, using less infrastructure can also have other benefits including reduced cost, better performance and more agility going forward.

    There are a range of ways to reduce reliance on infrastructure that will ultimately generate less electricity, for example using edge computing, a sensible use of a Content Delivery Network (CDN) and even headless publishing to generate a more lightweight approach to managing your website. There are also a growing number of website sustainability checkers such as Website Carbon Calculator that are making it easier for teams to check the sustainability of their own website. In 2023 architects and developers need to be thinking about what they’re building and the related environmental impact.

  7. AI is going to disrupt coding and the profession
  8. An ongoing mega-trend we can expect to see through this entire decade will be the impact that AI and machine learning has on the way we work; and this is already starting to disrupt working patterns in 2023. The introduction of ChatGPT in December has created a flurry of excitement as well as some concern, and feels like a genuine step change in the evolution of AI. Most people have been surprised by the depth and quality of the interactions on the tool and the content it generates, and this also includes code. As more services start to develop using ChatGPT and expectations about the impact of AI increase, this is clearly going to have an impact on software development.

    GitHub Copilot, a subscription-based AI assistant that turns natural language prompts into coding suggestions, has already been produced by GitHub and OpenAI. But ChatGPT opens natural language queries about code to everybody, including even non-IT professionals.

    At the moment ChatGPT can carry out a whole range of different functions relating to coding. You can ask it to create some code to do a particular function. It can provide a snippet of code for improvement, simplification or error checking and it will come back with suggestions. You can ask it to suggest alternative ways to achieve a particular programming function and it will provide you with a pretty comprehensive suggestion and explanation. It can help translate code from one language to another. It can also help write documentation for an accompanying piece of code.

    I’ll be honest, I’m not sure how this is going to end. The evolution of ChatGPT feels like it has potential enormous ramifications for projects and also the profession as a whole. On the positive side it opens up the possibility of allowing less experienced developers to produce more sophisticated results, supports those learning to code, reduces the chance of simple coding errors, and also for producing faster results.

    At the same time relying on code from ChatGPT feels very high risk with the chance of bad practices being followed, the same errors being reproduced again and again, the creation of security vulnerabilities and so on. It’s something we would never advocate in our client work.

    For the profession there are also lots of questions – will developers relying on AI fail to learn the nuances of coding that make the difference between an average developer and a great developer? Are there ethical issues with copying code? And could this start to even drive salaries down in the longer term? We’re just at the start of this journey, and it feels like change is coming.

Here’s to 2023

2023 is going to be a fascinating year in the development and customer experience space. If you’d like to discuss your strategy and roadmap for the year, or a particular digital project, then get in touch!

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