The One Thing That Never Changes is… Change!
There’s a well-known quote by Charles Darwin that says:
“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive, but those who can best manage change.”
Now, I’m sure you’re wondering what this has to do with building a website. Well, when it comes to building a website that functions well, looks good, and has a shelf life of more than a couple of years, it’s pretty darn accurate.
When we’re designing a new site and figuring out which extensions we want to use to meet the client’s needs, we look at how long the company that builds the extension has been around, do they have good reviews, and how do they handle updates to their product when the core software, Joomla, puts out a new version. We make our decision based on what we find when we look all al those things. And most of the time it works out well: We’ll end up with a great looking site, that does what the customer needs, and it can be easily maintained for a 2 – 3 years without any major overhauls.
Then there are times when we do all the leg work to insure a healthy life for a site, and we get thrown a curve ball by one of the big guns, like Google. We have been using an extension for event listings that pulls its data from Google Calendar. It is beautiful, functional, and most importantly, enabled you to allow different people to update your Google calendar and push it out to the front of the website – without having to give different people access to the admin area of your website. (Not to mention not having to train them!) However, Google is changing their API and dropping this extension, so we are working hard to come up with a good alternative.
Recently Flickr did something similar and changed their API and the rules of how it worked. There wasn’t a lot of warning that the change was coming, so we got several phone calls from customers saying that the Flickr-based photo galleries on their sites had stopped working. When I started digging into it, I found out that over the years we used two or three different components to create Flickr galleries on various sites, and they all needed immediate updates. We took the time to make the updates right away, since almost all of the extension providers made the necessary changes to their product immediately.
So while we will do our dead-level best to build you a website that stands the test of time, we’ve learned to also let our customers know that change is always happening in technology and what works beautifully today, could be right around the corner from an upgrade that causes problems and requires some additional tweaks to continue to work well.
The web and the technology used to access it and use it will always be in a state of constant change. For that reason managing changes is a huge part of what we do; Changes in the core software, changes in components, changes in internet browsers, changes in mobile devices and the browsers they use – and probably other changes we don’t even know about yet!