Is Front-End Development Dying? Debunking The Speculative Myth

by | September 10, 2021

Website builders like Wix or Squarespace made it simple to create professional-looking web pages in a fraction of the time that it would take to code them manually, and you don’t even need to know any programming languages!

The advent of these cookie-cutter solutions made many believe that web development is a dying career. However, front-end web development is not dead. The thing is, websites created with builders can’t serve the same purpose as custom web solutions.

In this article, we will:

  1. Dive into the brief history of web development.
  2. Highlight the differences between modern web development and web builders.
  3. Talk about the future of front-end web development and address the six top reasons why it’s here to stay.

Brief History of Front-End Web Development.

Front-end developers have the knowledge needed to transform static design mockups into fully functional websites. They develop the user interface, adjust the layout to make it look good across different devices, and make sure that things work flawlessly cross-browser.

On paper, this might seem like a straightforward task for a qualified professional, and so it was up until the early 2000s. Back then, creating a website that made clients happy was relatively easy. All you needed to do was to learn HTML, CSS (and rarely – some JQuery). Just by using these three simple frameworks, most developers could deploy fully functional desktop websites that made clients happy.

Back in the late 90’s and early 2000’s things were simple – clients were just happy to have their business listed online (thanks to the dot-com boom), and the quality standards were set much lower.

Things got more complicated in the last 20 years with the advent of mobile technologies, global internet penetration, and rising standards in the web development industry. Modern websites require optimization for different screen sizes, page speed tweaks, proper SEO optimization, QA testing, fancy animations, embedded web applications, e-commerce functionality, and the list goes on.

Web Dev

Only learning CSS and HTML is no longer an option for aspiring developers. Authentic full-stack web developers are unicorns of the industry, and programmers nowadays tend to specialize in some particular area of web development. Modern developers work with a stack of different frameworks. Here’s just a few to give you an example:

  1. JavaScript frameworks (React.JS, Vue.JS)
  2. Some back-end frameworks (PHP, Laravel)
  3. Material design, responsive design
  4. Parallax, smooth-scrolling, and other fancy navigation animations

…and more

The complexity of web projects has increased tremendously, and so did the entry requirements for front-end developers. But this is a good thing. The higher complexity of the projects and the appearance of new frameworks mean that the web development industry is evolving and is far from being dead. Now, as we understand the progression of web development in recent years, let’s take a look at the main reasons why it’s here to stay.

Top 6+ Reasons Why Front-End Development is Here to Stay

There are a few reasons why traditional front-end web development services will never go out of “fashion”. Let’s take a closer look at each one of them:

#1: The Demand for Front-End Web Developers is Growing

Numbers speak louder than words. This is why the growing demand for front-end web developers is a clear indication of the industry’s prosperity. BLS has reported that the demand for front-end developers has increased by 8% in the last year. Moreover, the average front-end developer salary is growing and year. These numbers suggest that the front-end dev is here to stay.

 #2: Cookie-Cutter Solutions Aren’t as Good For Advanced SEO

Cookie-Cutter Solutions

Page builders usually have little to no support for technical SEO fixes, and they are mostly limited to on-page optimization. Moreover, they don’t let you build a custom website structure, making it harder to assess the technical performance of the pages. At last, page builders only allow you to create simple websites, which have limited potential for search engine discovery. You won’t be able to interlink tens of articles, blogs, and landing pages together with proper anchors using just the page builder.

To sum it up: you won’t be able to scale your SEO efforts or rank high for any competitive keywords using only a page builder for your website. Therefore, custom-built web solutions are the preferable path to take if you are planning to grow your online presence in the long term.

#3: Custom Web Development Provides Unmatched Speed

Page builder solutions are known for two things:

  1. Extreme ease of use and deployment of the final website
  2. Incredible amounts of bloatware that come with such systems

While you can still hire page speed optimization experts to improve your WordPress website (generally WordPress allows for complete customizability just like custom code), other page builder solutions usually have a closed system that does not permit third-party page speed optimization efforts. A properly-coded custom solution, on the other hand, provides unmatched page speed results.

#4: Website Builders Have Little Customizability

There is one problem with all the modern builders: while they provide a good UX/UI design for little money, they also offer limited customizability.

Most page/ builders have drag and drop interfaces and pre-built templates, which makes the development process simple. But this also means that it is almost impossible to get a website with a unique design or structure using such builders. Such cookie-cutter websites hinder the overall user experience, and make your website look “cheap”.

 #5: The Number of Frameworks & Projects in Related Industries is Increasing

Web development is one of the most dynamic industries. Just some two decades ago, web development was all about building websites for desktop devices. Nowadays, it is more about creating unique and memorable user experiences that support many browsers/platforms at once. Almost every year, a new framework or technology appears on the horizon, bringing new functionality to modern websites.

With the increasing number of frameworks and technologies, the demand for knowledgeable web developers is also increasing. Moreover, there is a growing demand for web development expertise in related fields (internet of things, AR/VR, for instance).

 #6: You Cannot Scale a Page Builder Website

When you create your website, you have to consider a few aspects – where do you want to see your website in 5-10 years? Do you want it to stay untouched and merely promote your business offering, or do you want to make it a huge lead generation magnet? The chances are, if you are looking to grow your business consistently, a website solution built with Wix or some other builder would not make the cut due to the limitations imposed by such builders.

Moreover, as mentioned before, such sites tend to rank lower organically. Therefore, they are not a good long-term investment if you are planning to scale your business.

But Wait! What About The Growing Demand for Web Builders?

All in all, web page builders are still useful. They provide you with an opportunity to create an entry-level brochure website for your business that will provide a decent user experience at a low cost. The problem is that such page builders lack the needed degree of SEO and page speed optimization, and they are not scalable.

With that being said, they are still an excellent choice for micro-sized businesses that are not trying to boost their visibility and supercharge marketing but merely want to put up their offering online for simple discoverability.
Thanks to such businesses, the popularity of all three major website builders has been growing steadily over the past ten years:

website builders growth

The point here is that web builders are not in direct competition with traditional front-end developers for a simple reason: they serve a completely different clientele with lower project requirements.

So, How Does the Future of Front-End Development Look?

So, to sum it up, front-end web development is certainly not dead – it is evolving. Evolving in a sense that as we create new development frameworks and technologies, the more rigorous and in-demand web developer jobs become.
While we are not sure how the page builders will advance into the future, it is safe to say that they are not going to take the jobs away from web developers. Instead, they will serve a completely different purpose: creating simple brochure sites that don’t need optimization and scalability for low-budget clients.

The likely trend would be for web developers to create more complicated web applications, leaving smaller brochure website gigs to the page builders. And one thing for sure – the whole web dev industry will thrive for the years to come.

 

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