Is Web Development Dying? A Closer Look at the Field's Longevity
The rapidity of change in any industry connected to technology is truly staggering. Advances in artificial intelligence (AI) and automation have many people wondering if their careers will still be around—or drastically different—in ten years. Wondering and worrying about what comes next is common in information technology roles, and web development is no different.
To many web developers, this worry is misplaced. “The idea that robots who code will take our jobs is laughable,” says freelance web developer Mike Battaglia. “Take drag-and-drop page builders for example.” Battaglia explains that page builders can help someone publish a website quickly. However, if that person lacks a fundamental understanding of web development, the site will probably be buggy and unappealing.
When it comes to web development, automation is more likely to be a source of relief and support for web developers than a replacement for their work. If that intrigues you, read on! We asked web developers to share what they think of automation and the future of their industry.
Is web development dying? 6 Reasons for optimism
1. Many aspects of web development are already automated
With so many web development tools out there, users can create websites even without a web developer at hand. James Randolph, web developer and founder of The Marketing Dev points out that tools like Wix® or Squarespace® have already simplified aspects of web development enough to make them accessible to pretty much anyone—particularly if the site owner sticks to templates.
“Essentially, web developers are around to add custom functionality, streamline performance or build out custom UIs that more closely reflect the brand of the organization,” Randolph says.
2. Automation will help with repetitive, mindless tasks
Sure, web developers can expect to see some of their tasks disappear to automation, but those tasks won’t be anything that special, according to Randolph. “Think of any task you do repeatedly and with minimal effort—those will be the first things to be automated.”
“Automation is just another tool for increasing efficiency,” Battaglia says. “It is going to allow us to spend less time doing monotonous tasks and spend more time being better humans.”
3. The rise of software will create more demand for web development
“Every company is slowly turning into a software company, and the web continues to be the future of software,” says Vinay Sahni, web developer and co-founder of Enchant. “A developer's role is not just to write code but also to have good judgement. I've yet to see anything that can replace a web developer's judgement.”
4. E-commerce and mobile sites needs are driving demand for more developers
Even with automation and other advancements in the field potentially cutting back on some of the more menial work on web developers’ plates, there’s still a strong demand for developers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the employment rate for web developers and digital interface designers is projected to grow 13 percent from 2020 to 2030.1
Part of this growth will be the consistent demand for better user experience on mobile interfaces as well as continuing expansion in online retail. The BLS also notes that companies are becoming less interested in outsourcing web development tasks around the world as the cultural and language nuances of web development now play a larger role in user experience.1
5. The role is already shifting away from purely technical tasks
“Most of my billable hours are spent communicating with clients, getting to understand their needs and assessing which solutions are right for them,” says Battaglia. He explains that there are already plenty of cut-rate coders who can execute requirements. The web developers who are thriving likely offer more than just coding abilities to their clients or employers.
In the years to come, Battaglia says tech workers will need to focus less on memorizing programming languages or coding sprints, and focus more on “their ability to bridge the gaps between where people are and where they want to be.”
6. Advancements allow web developers to focus more on the big picture
As new tools and advancements arrive in web development, developers have a much easier time executing the basic aspects of their work. In the past, Sahni says they spent a lot of time fighting with subtle behavior differences between browsers. “With standardization of web technologies, we can focus on the big picture—providing exceptional experiences to the end user.”
Long live web development
While predicting what the future has in store is always tricky, change is inevitable. As users shift to using a wider variety of devices with different design needs and functionalities to access the internet, the world will need web developers capable of adaptation. Are you equipped to fill that need?
Getting started in web development as soon as possible will help you get acclimated to the role and prepared for whatever the future may hold. Check out our article, “Everything You Need to Know About Becoming a Web Developer” to learn more about joining this vital industry.
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