Alastair LangridgeContact me 📬

July 3, 2023

State of Development | 2023

Upon reflecting on the time when I started working in web development, and where things are at today, I found myself to be struck by the immense difference across the entire scope of my day-to-day work. The role of a web developer in 2023 seems to me to have had huge changes, and along with that a new set of challenges.

As the permanence of online functions in daily life, the role of a web developer continues to grow and shift. This piece is essentially a look at my thoughts on the changes occuring within the industry, and the questions they raise..

Frontend/Backend/Full-Stack: Blurred Lines

Gone are the days when a web developer could specialize solely in front-end or back-end development. In 2023, a more holistic approach seems to have become more common. With the changes in tools and technologies used for building back and front-end infrastructure, the lines have somewhat blurred. Whole not entirely merged, and somewhat dependant on company and role, the expectation to have some level of experience with both areas has become far more common.

Looking back on working with Drupal and Wordpress in comparison to today, the many tools I no longer use, and the innumerable new skills I've taken on, really illustrates to me the critical nature of ensuring that as a developer, to stay present and in touch with the bleeding edge.

Data, Privacy and Security Imperatives

As the digital world becomes increasingly intertwined with our daily lives, concerns about data privacy and cybersecurity have taken center stage. We now more than ever need to now prioritize building robust security measures into every layer of their creations. From ensuring secure authentication methods, to safeguarding sensitive user data and giving users choice, ensuring privacy become a more prevalent topic.

Browsers implementing anti tracking measures, and the familiar annoyance of a cookie consent popup, privacy is at the forefront. I believe we can do a lot more to ensure that the level of privacy is handled correctly from the begininng, and reduce overload on users in needing to manage their preferences individually on every single site. I expect to see a lot of improvements in this area over the coming years.

New Year, New Framework: The fast pace of change continue

The fast-paced nature of any technology means that web developers must be perpetual learners. New frameworks, libraries, and tools emerge each year, meaning staying up-to-date should be a weekly occurence. In 2023, podcasts have been my medium of choice for finding out about the latest developments, along with online communities being a continual presence.

Even with the apparent demise of Stack Overflow this year, following from the domination of ChatPGT and it's implementation in VS Code, I find that online discourse is one of the best ways to build a network of trusted contacts I can come to when faced with a struggle.

Deciding on which technologies to pursue and implement in production applications is a questions which requires serious though towards the long term implications. While the bleeding-edge tools are always appealing, I find myself cautious to integrate tooling which does not already have a high level of usage.

Accessibility: More present than ever

Inclusivity is becoming an increasingly important topic in the digital world. While it should always be considered when developing applications, the increased focus from governments on the area means that we should always ensure to be aligned with the best level of compatibility

.With the latest generation browsers, and easier implementation of accessibility tools for ensuring compatibility with WCAG standards, in 2023 there is no real reason for a website not to be usable by people with disabilities. This is something we should be all taking responsibility for as designers and developers.

In reality, meeting these guidelines when working with a strong foundation is not especially difficult, and is something that I am prioritising in 2023 and onwards.

The emergence of AI: Raising questions

Artificial Intelligence seems to be the number one topic in digital technologies this year, and I don't see it fizzling out anytime soon. It's here to stay, and already is having a huge impact on how things are done, not just in the web technology space, but across all domains of life.

We hear many a rumour that 'this job will be taken over by AI' and it's easy to get wrapped up in the hype, but it's worth diving deeper in the the implications of these changes.

While I am experimenting with the usage of AI tools within my workflow, and have had some success at times, the notion that we'll see an instant shift and rapid loss of entire industries is in reality not at all how this will play out.

I see this as a very valueable tool and something which is only going to make us more effective at delivering great products.

Balancing Aesthetics with Performance

While I take great pleasure in soaking up visually stunning websites, dominated by dynamic interactions, native 3D components, and scroll-based storytelling, I find myself coming back to them on second or third look and questioning the longevity of the approach.

While this aesthetic wins with the wow-factor, I am conscious that the performance can sometimes be compromised. While we now have the tools to create extremely dynamic and technical online experiences, there is always the challenge of balancing the experienc,e and its performance.

As the access to online connectivity continues to grow across new parts of the globe, we need to ensure that no matter the location, device or user, the experience is not compromised by the device used to access it. Performance should never be compromised over usability.

In Summary

In the world of web development in 2023, there are a lot of questions to be answered. I take great enjoyment in researching, experimenting, and discussing these topics, and believe that we should always take the time before diving in to a new area to look at the implications of bringing change to the web. While there are a lot of concerns, I believe that the future of online experience is looking very bright, and I can't wait to explore the new tools and challenges that we are facing.