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Components, Ecosystems And Empowered Web Teams: A Postcard From 2025

Components, Ecosystems And Empowered Web Teams: A Postcard From 2025

Josh Koenig is a Co-Founder of Pantheon, a platform for extraordinary websites with a goal to put the internet’s magic in everyone’s hands.

No one can deny that the face of web development is changing, but what’s the next stable state? What does “good” look like when current web development trends have reached maturity? Here’s one possible look at the future—a “postcard from 2025″—using my 20 years of experience in web development, evidence from external sources and insight from various companies’ WebOps practices to explain how it might look to a top-performing team.

From Style Guides To Design Systems

In 2025, the component is a key atomic unit of web development. This is where design and development meet: block elements (or collections of elements) that express functionality. The ecosystem of design systems has taken shape to organize the work of creative/technical teams around these units. Fussing over “pixel-perfect” pages is officially a thing of the past.

By creating a library of available design elements that runs live in a web browser, the gap between dev and design is closed. Propagating changes from the central system out to specific digital experiences is still a fair amount of effort, but it’s abundantly clear that nobody is going back to pure documentation as a source of truth for design. Teams have gotten a taste for live design elements that can be rapidly assembled and tested as user experiences, and they like it!

Fast Paths From Design To Web

The rise of web-native design tools (think Figma) feeds this dynamic. The design canvas is now web-native, and is a consumer of predefined elements from the design system, keeping them in sync and allowing designers to create lightweight interactive prototypes that can quickly garner customer feedback, and also be quickly implemented if/when they prove to be of value.

By 2025, designers are regularly publishing full web experiences directly from their canvas. This quick path is a well-paved one for standalone experiences and microsites. However, this shortcut is still not a fit for site projects requiring more complex functionality, CMS-managed content, and ties into transactional data.

Content (management and composition) is still king.

The lion’s share of end-user-facing experiences will likely be composed in a higher-level tool. These require little to no technical or design expertise, allowing users to create new content and assemble full end-user experiences using the components in the predefined block library. These are democratized widely within the team, so anyone can publish in real time.

By 2025, it’s considered a no-brainer to integrate a no-code interface, and the whole team has found the plateau of productivity. These tools have also gotten with the times, adopting a React-based “content block” model for arranging rich digital experiences.

User experiences are mostly Javascript, but higher level.

The majority of user experiences across mobile, desktop and the web are built with Javascript, but this modern toolchain is built up significantly from vanilla JS or even widely-used lower-level frameworks like React.

Cutting-edge developers continue tinkering with tools like Svelte, Alpine or Redux, but in 2025, most projects use a higher-level framework built on top of React. The ecosystem of React components has created a powerful network effect. While there’s some standardization down to more interchangeable web components, the library of UX/UI elements that are available off the shelf in React keeps it firmly in the lead.

It’s 2025—what’s in your stack?

Ultimately, one of the biggest pitfalls of modern web development to overcome is being so developer-centric. It’s ironic, but productivity takes off when developers include designers and content creators as first-class participants. How might a 2025 organization structure its design to a web UX toolchain?

• Something “SaaSy” like Figma is likely to remain central.

Though they’re part of Adobe now, the intent is to operate as an independent product line and keep true to their path. Someone else will fill that gap even if they somehow lose the thread. A design tool that’s native to the web is absolutely a part of the future toolchain.

• Beyond the design canvas, several factors will drive the adoption of open source.

The end result web product has to be owned by the business, independent of any vendor. Healthy open-source projects also bring an ecosystem for integrations, talent and tooling. Finally, the risks of vendor lock-in when it comes to their data and content aren’t going away any time soon.

For the design system, that probably means Storybook, which is already a leading solution with a healthy and growing ecosystem. For the end-user experience, NextJS has been a runaway success “at the glass,” and looks poised to continue increasing its rate of adoption going forward.

But what about composition? Don’t be surprised if the reigning CMS is (still!) WordPress. While Headless CMSs are hot right now, and there’s stiff competition from Drupal in the enterprise, WordPress serves remarkably well as an API-first content repository.

With the Gutenberg editor evolving into a full no-code page composition tool, content editors enjoy an intuitive experience. It’s also built around ReactJS and block-level components, and fits well with the overall gestalt. WordPress developers are relatively easy to find and can integrate whatever is needed, while the open-source value gives IT leaders the security of owning their data, and the ability to lock down access just to content editors significantly reduces the attack surface.

• Integration will be a stand-out skill.

Orchestrating all these tools into a well-oiled digital experience practice is one of the key ways technology leaders will distinguish themselves over the next three years. Whole careers will be forged, and it’s an exciting time to build.

As exciting as it is to imagine this postcard from the future, this is only one perspective on the modern toolchain. It may or may not be right in the particulars, but the key themes are clear for anyone to see: component-driven user experiences, collapsing the underlying mediums of development and design, empowering all team members to create pages and properties, and the strategic use of open source to drive innovation and retain ownership.

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