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How do I stay up to date with all this changing technology?

20 February 2017 by Zak Dunstone, Web Applications Developer

The web technology industry is constantly reinventing itself. There are always new versions and updates that bring a faster, better and more interesting experience. As developers, we need to ask ourselves: How do we keep up with all these changes? When is the right time to follow the trend and start using these new features? How can we future-proof our designs and solutions?

How do we keep up with all these changes?

First and foremost, we need to know what’s out there and combine that with our users’ expectations. The only way to keep on top of these factors is to constantly be exploring sites, reading blogs from influential people who drive the industry and, crucially, discussing them with your colleagues, finding out what we have the skills to implement and how we could improve our product offerings.

It is important to note that these expectations and technology opportunities are specific to each industry that our clients’ sites will reside in. For example, the sites that we compare and the features that we implement will be vastly different if we are creating a social media/blogging driven site for an individual or if we are creating a functionality driven project for a large medical society with thousands of members.

Now, once we have found some wonderful examples of user interfaces that have the potential to improve our sites:

When is the right time to follow the trend and start using these new features?

If you have found a stunning design feature, or seen a gap in the market and have a vision for creating something new, there are a few factors to take into account:

  • Having responsive sites is a necessity now (these are sites that respond to the size of the screen that’s viewing them, so the same site will look as good on your phone, your tablet and your computer, all that the same time). How will this feature work on phones and tablets? Do we have to hide the feature from those users and how will that affect their experience?
  • If this is a cutting edge feature:
    • What is the support on different browsers like? Will this feature only be accessible to those with the latest technology?
    • Have people tried and tested it so that we can place our faith in it?
  • Does this have any performance implications, causing slow page loads or juddering effects as we use the website?
  • How about users with accessibility needs? For example some users may have limited or no vison and require the use of a screen reader.
  • Is this financially viable? Will it cause enough of an improvement to warrant the time and money invested in it?
  • Is the feature intuitive to use and does it enhance the user experience? New features that confuse users or introduce technology that gets in the way of the site’s core objective should be avoided.

These are all valid concerns when starting to use a new package or way of laying out our websites, but perhaps the most important question of all is:

How can we future-proof our designs and solutions?

Will this feature still be relevant and applicable in 6 months’ time? Obviously it is impossible to predict where the market will go and what users’ expectations will be in the future, but we have a responsibility to our clients for their websites to not look outdated within a few months of them going live.

Where does that leave LightMedia?

It is our challenge, as developers, to provide our clients with the best possible experience without compromising their sites’ usability or longevity, and a challenge that we enjoy. We only adopt new technologies once their stability and usefulness have been proven, and we are constantly on the lookout for new ways of doing things that improve our services and sites – watch this space to see where we go next!