Would-be developers are frequently asking, is web development dying?
The rise of web page builders, drag and drop platforms, and template marketplaces can give the impression that web development is dead.
More than 20% of small businesses are also using social media in place of a fully functioning website to gain customers. While one-third don’t have a site at all.
With all these aspects working against the industry its easy to assume that web development is in decline.
Let’s take a closer l the industry and understand why people think web development is dying. From there we can really understand if the web development industry is dead.
Is web development dead?
Web development is not dying, far from it. It is one of the fastest-growing sectors in the world. Software roles currently ccupy 9 of the top 15 spots in LinkedIn’s emerging jobs report. The software industry is also set to grow five times faster than the average over the next decade.
On top of that, the IT sector is currently experiencing a major shortage of skilled workers. There are nearly a million unfilled IT jobs in the U.S. alone.
The reality is that web development is changing.
Technologies are always in a state of flux in web development and with each evolution comes plenty of opportunities for developers to thrive. The number of specialties keeps increasing which is opening doors for jobs in different areas.
Web development is not just about creating WordPress templates or a simple HTML site for a small local business. The breadth of the industry is staggering.
Also, more businesses are moving online. So the need for development teams that can solve business-specific problems which cant be fixed by cookie-cutter template solutions is higher than ever.
If you need even more convincing that web development is not dying check out the graph below.
But head over to Reddit and you will see people continually asking if web development is development dead or is web development dying? Why is this?
Why do people think web development is dying?
In my opinion Increased competition in the industry is the main reason why people think web development is on the decline.
What do I mean by increased competition?
Web Page Builders
Platforms like Wix, Webflow, and Squarespace (to name just a few) offer customers the ability to build their own website using WYSIWYG drag and drop technology.
They are incredibly cheap compared to custom development, relatively easy to use, and for the most part offer great support.
You can purchase a site on Squarespace for less than $150 (£110). An agency would typically charge $4000+ for the same work.
So lets pack up our bags because web development is dying.
These platforms are extremely limited in scope, offer poor customization, and don’t play well with external APIs. The type of client that is happy to do it themselves with a page builder like Wix, isn’t the type of client that would be forking out for a huge amount of custom development in the first place.
Are they useful? Yes. Are they popular? Absolutely.
However, as a developer, you never want to be positioning yourself against the level of quality, optimization, and customization these builders provide.
Times have changed and you want to be the person offering companies a solution to their specific problem. Not a generic one-size-fits-all fix from a pile of templates.
Websites like Upwork and Fiver have made accessing international markets for development work easier than ever.
It has also created a race to the bottom in terms of price on these platforms where developers from countries with a $3 per hour minimum wage try to undercut each other.
Does this mean web development is oversaturated?
No it doesn’t.
As a business, you want a solution that is going to work for you over a long period of time. With these platforms, you often get what you pay for in terms of quality, longevity, and headaches throughout the project.
In fact, far from indicating that web development is dying, these platforms show how strong the industry is. They also give people the opportunity to provide a unique offering in terms of quality, communication, and future-proofing solutions.
How are we defining web development?
Many people who ask whether web development is dying, are maybe doing so on an outdated understanding of what is it now.
Old school static websites fashioned out of pure HTML and CSS with a sprinkle of jQuery may be a part of web development that is in decline. Although, even legacy frameworks will need support for years to come.
We now have progressive web apps that are as fast as native apps.
If we take a slightly broader definition of web development and include the wider software industry concept of web development being dead is ridiculous.
Whether it’s front-end, back-end, dev-ops, or QA & testing, the changes in technology bring about new opportunities that will always make web development thrive.
Will WordPress kill web development?
WordPress is just a tool to provide a range of solutions to customers.
It isn’t killing web development. On the contrary, it is helping it grow by allowing developers across the blog to provide bespoke answers to clients’ questions.
For many of us, myself included, WordPress is the first foray we have into the coding world. It is the stepping stone into the various areas a web development career has to offer.
From a personal perspective, it’s how I got into web development.
Frustrated with the inability to be able to customize templates, it is how I wet my feet before deciding I wanted to jump in head first, quit my job, and learn to code.
It may be more relevant to say like WordPress theme development is oversaturated rather than web development is dying.
At the last count, there were 51,868 themes on ThemeForest. It’s a competitive market with a few of the big players taking the lion’s share of theme downloads.
However, just because there are a lot of themes it doesn’t mean they are all good.
There is still amazing amounts of room for innovation and to provide exactly what a customer is looking for that can’t be found in a cookie cutter theme.
Why you should think longterm
If you are worried about page builders and increased competition killing web development. What is the best course of action?
It all depends on your goal.
Are you planning on exclusively building themes and selling themes on Theme Forest? Then it may be super tough to do that.
Or are you planning on joining a company that specializes in linking various business APIs and building out amazing user interfaces for that?
Explore the possibilities
One of the reasons I got into this job is because of the endless possibilities and the fact that with a bit of experience and a passion for learning you can transition to whatever role you want.
Having a successful career in web development means you should be able to pick up new skills and adapt to new technologies.
Getting an idea of which part of web development you want to work in is just as important.
Learn the skills for your next job
My first developer role involved using a lot of CSS, HTML, and PHP day-to-day. This wasn’t what I had in mind when I set out on my journey but I knew I needed some experience.
By thinking long-term and avoiding areas of web development that are supposedly ‘dying’ I was able to get exactly what I wanted.
Nathan Britten, the founder and editor of Developer Pitstop, is a self-taught software engineer with nearly five years of experience in front-end technologies. Nathan created the site to provide simple, straightforward knowledge to those interested in technology, helping them navigate the industry and better understand their day-to-day roles.