Web development best practices in 2021

What the data tells us

JavaScript Congress, 2021-11-23

Who is this guy?

  • Currently: Data Evangelist at Netlify
  • Previously:
    • Co-founder at npm, Inc.
    • Co-founder at awe.sm
    • Web developer at Yahoo
  • Web developer since 1996

What you'll learn from this talk

1. The current state of web development

What You'll Learn

2. "Popular choice"

is not the same as "best choice"

What You'll Learn

How do I

know this stuff?

  • The Jamstack Community Survey
    • 10,000+ survey responses
      • 3000+ in 2020
      • 7500+ in 2021
  • npm downloads data
  • Redmonk survey data
  • GitHub State of the Octoverse
  • Other surveys

What do we know?

  1. Who we are
    • Demographics
  2. What we're doing
    • App types
    • Device targets
    • Dev priorities
    • Audience sizes
  3. How we're doing it
    • Design tools
    • CMS choices
    • Editors
    • Programming languages
    • Web frameworks

Sources of error

  1. The Jamstack Community Survey
  2. Probably me being dumb sometimes

Section 1:

Who we are

82% engineers

Average experience: 6+ years

16% students



Increasingly geographically diverse

85% EU/NA

52% EU/NA



85% EU/NA

52% EU/NA

Huge shift

to remote work

40% remote

in devs with > 2 years of experience

Most likely remote: DevOps

What does this all mean?

Section 2:

What we're doing

Everybody works on their personal site

B2B and Consumer

are almost equally big categories

E-commerce is big

but lead capture by itself is enormous

Internal tools are big

Do we give them resources to match?

Application types

  • Fully static
  • Partially dynamic
  • Fully dynamic
  • Single page app


All sites, not just Jamstack sites

Fully static and fully dynamic are almost equally common

Target devices

Are we "mobile first"?

88% of US consumer internet time

is spent on mobile devices

Mobile second

Are we paying enough attention to mobile devices?

or are thought leaders paying too much?

Data leads to questions:

Development priorities

Performance then uptime

So being down is okay if it's fast when it's up

Move fast and break things

is apparently the industry standard

Avoid vendor lock in

unless it's in any way inconvenient

Audience sizes

What affects performance most on a site with only 1000s of users?

Section 3:

How we're doing it

Awareness, Usage and Satisfaction

size = awareness

want to

use more


want to

use less


used more

used less

Year on year changes



lost users

gained users

Technologies that gain users usually lose satisfaction

Figma leads design

Content Management Systems

Why pay so much attention?

WordPress leads traditional

Contentful leads headless

Webflow leads design-led

WordPress leads overall

CMS conclusions

  • Headless CMS is the most popular type
  • Contentful is the best bet in headless
  • Strapi and Sanity are worth considering
  • Webflow is the leader in design-led CMS

JavaScript is universal

Hey look, SQL!

TypeScript is a big deal now

The new class

The wider world

Source: RedMonk Programming Language Rankings: June 2021

The JavaScript Trap

Developers writing for the web are forced into JavaScript


aka WASM

WASM can

free the web

from JavaScript

Conclusions: languages

  • JavaScript is inescapable (for now)
  • Learning TypeScript is a good idea
    • Especially at a big company

Server-side techniques

Serverless functions: 46%

Frameworks are providing first-class support for functions

Web frameworks

are good, actually

The time before

web frameworks

It was very inefficient.

Ruby on Rails

Changed the development economy

Frameworks always solve a human problem

and only sometimes a technical one

Frameworks make you go faster

because you can get other people to help

Types of frameworks

  • Component libraries
  • "Kitchen sink" frameworks
  • Static site generators (SSGs)
  • Others

React at 67% usage

Gatsby leads SSGs

but for how long?

On web components

Are they finally ready for prime time?

Conclusions: frameworks

No clear winner,

but some solid ideas.

  • Want a component library?
    • React
  • Want a kitchen sink?
    • Next.js (or Nuxt/Vite/SvelteKit)
  • Want an SSG?
    • Gatsby (or maybe 11ty)

What about

"No Code"?

Maybe some day.

React may be the new jQuery

but I mean that in a good way!

jQuery never died

It became part of the browser

Can React transcend?

If it keeps growing, maybe


That was a lot of data.


  • Increasing geographical diversity
    • Maybe leads to other kinds
  • Remote work is here to stay
    • For 40% of us

What we build

  • B2B and B2C are equally big
  • Internal tools are big
  • Lead capture is big!
  • We aren't mobile-first
    • Should we be?
  • Totally static and totally dynamic sites are equally common
  • We don't care about security or privacy
    • And it shows

How we build it

  • Strapi and Sanity are the CMSes to watch
  • 11ty is the SSG to look out for
  • React is becoming bedrock to the web
  • Next.js is a clear front-runner in kitchen sink frameworks
  • WASM and web components are on the horizon

Enjoy the web

The best way to reach me is Twitter: