What we do on the Web changes every day. The web development industry is constantly evolving. While we may not be able to tell the day-to-day changes while it’s happening, it’s easy for us to look back to the past few months and see that a lot of things we do now are much different than what we’ve been doing before.
Because our work lies in one of the fastest-paced industries, it’s important for us to predict and learn about what’s coming up or risk being left in the web development dust.
While this may sound daunting at first, it’s actually pretty easy to see where we’ll be in the next several months/years to come.
Let’s look at some of the things I predict are going to happen in the near future.
Less Demand for PSD to XHTML/CSS Conversion Services
As a developer who specializes in PSD to CSS/XHTML conversions, I’ve already seen this trend start to happen. While I’m definitely not losing business, I’m no longer getting as many regular PSD to XHTML/CSS jobs. Most of my jobs currently consist of WordPress development or specific and specialized server-side scripting (e.g. PHP). In short, web developers are beginning to work more on niche jobs such as open source software customization.
As the months go on, developers like me who charge a premium over "PSD to HTML" chop shops are going to need to continue to shift our niche. I believe there will always be a demand for this type of work, but you’ll need to differentiate yourself from the $50-per-PSD-conversion companies, especially if you’re charging significantly more than the "market price".
More Appreciation for Web Standards
It used to be tough to sell clients on the importance of valid/standards-compliant and semantic code, but now, with so many devices and browsers on the market, standards have become even more important in order to produce flexible and interoperable products.
With more web browsers supporting open web standards and companies chucking out support for proprietary software in favor of open technologies, there is a stronger demand — more than ever — for coders that are able to work with web standards well.
Developers that focus on outputting compliant code will benefit from this trend.
Less Client Work, More Personal Projects
I’ve noticed that many developers have stopped taking on as much client work and have started working on their own projects.
With the popularity of devices like the iPhone and iPad and public APIs, I think this is going to become more common in the next year.
Personally, I’ve decided to also go this route too, as working on my own apps is a lot more fun than working on client sites. Plus, the potential for making the next Twitter is always on the horizon, and also more attainable with the tools and knowledge that our maturing industry has accumulated.
Working on your own projects, however, offers another benefit. Since the Web evolves so much, you’ll end up learning new things that can be incorporated into client work. I’m currently learning both PHP and Cocoa, and soon, I’ll be able to offer iPhone app development services to clients as well. Doing your own projects keeps you updated on the newest stuff.
(Read more about the benefits of working on personal projects.)
Internet Explorer Will Actually Be Cool
Yes, I said that. I’m actually excited about the new IE9 for several reasons. The biggest reason being the fact that it’s finally going to be a real modern browser with standards-compliant HTML5 and CSS3 support.
Another benefit of IE9 means that IE6 is now going to be three browsers old. While I’ve been lucky enough to be able to drop support of IE6 due to my client base, I know some of you guys are still stuck supporting it.
The fact that IE6 is now going to be three browser versions old and almost 10 years old means that those big corporations that are hesitant to update their systems might finally be forced to upgrade.
"Thanks" to the identification of several security vulnerabilities in outdated versions of IE, people are also beginning to realize that there is a need to upgrade their browser for safer browsing. And, as far as the UK and the rest of Europe is concerned, Microsoft is going to be forced to offer several browser options, which will in turn (hopefully) curb down the use of IE6 even more.
The Need to Know More Languages and Technologies
It’s not uncommon for web developers to know and work in several languages in one page and on one site. I strongly believe that to be one of the best in what you do, you need to have a broad scope of knowledge and specialize /niche yourself into something quite narrow at the same time.
I’ve been able to do this successfully by specializing in CSS/HTML and offering my services only to other freelancers and web design agencies. Quickly though, I’ve been getting requests for WordPress work and so I learned the API inside and out by jumping right into it. Now, WordPress has become one of my specialties and something I enjoy doing for almost every site I make.
This concept is important in a constantly shifting industry like ours and something that’s often missed in college education. Many people I went to school with are now without jobs because all they can (and want to) do is print design.
Our markets are shrinking constantly, so it’s important that we continue to learn and have other skills in case we need to quickly switch. Knowing other languages and technologies also helps keep things interesting and avoids burnout.
Where do you think web development is headed?