Anatomy 101: Getting it Done Right

PublisherSol Minion Developmenthttps:https://assets.solminion.co/logo.svg?mtime=20200915165531&focal=nonePublishedcustom developmentweb appweb design

Every business owner knows a Web presence is a necessity and getting it done right is paramount (though what "right" is will vary depending on who you talk to, but that's another article). Just as important as getting it done, however, is long-term maintenance. Just like a new house built from the ground up, Web projects require maintenance to keep them running smoothly.

A new house might not need any maintenance for a few years, but technology changes much faster and usually within a couple months, someone sees something they'd like worded differently or to work just a little better. It happens. The technology used to create and drive your site can affect the ease with which the maintenance can be performed, particularly when it's less commonly used technology which limits your talent pool.

I was recently introduced to an individual who had just completed a new ecommerce site. For reasons unknown to myself, the developer who created it isn't available to maintain the site over the long-term. Normally this wouldn't present a problem, however, the technology used to build the site hasn't been commonly used for several years. It's not an issue because it doesn't work or isn't a viable technology, it's an issue because finding someone who can (or is willing to) work with the technology is difficult, if not impossible. Thankfully, because it's effectively a custom application, a Web development company (versus a digital marketing or WordPress design studio) is going to be best equipped to help.

How Can I Get the Right Technology?

How does a business owner - someone who likely isn't as familiar with the alphabet soup of terms that make up the technology behind Web sites - avoid coming up against this issue? I'll throw out a few stats (and hopefully not make anyone's eyes glaze over):

  • Facebook is the single biggest PHP shop, but Yahoo, Zynga, Audi, and quite a few other large sites also use the technology.
  • PHP is available on approximately 80% of all Web servers.
  • PHP actually runs around 60% of all sites on the Internet (this includes WordPress, Joomla, and Magento sites).
  • Microsoft.Net/C#/ASP.NET is available on approximately 17% of all Web servers - mostly in large enterprise environments.

Obviously, most business owners see meaningless acronyms when I start talking about the programming language that is used to manage or process requests to a Web site. So, to put it into terms that makes sense to a business-minded (rather than a technical-minded) person: sites driven by PHP have an 80% likelihood of being able to run on your existing infrastructure and the popularity of the language provides you with a large talent pool to draw resources to maintain your site from. If a developer starts talking about other technologies (beyond HTML, CSS, or Javascript), they're likely steering you toward a technology that, while likely perfectly viable, is their preference and may not have the longevity a business needs, either because it's no longer being supported or because it's more of a "fad" technology. It also limits a business owner's choices and may even make it next to impossible to switch Web companies or being unable to find someone able or willing to maintain their Web site.

Take for instance the individual I mentioned in my opening remarks. The developer he found built the site on ColdFusion - a language which has been ever so slowly falling away into obscurity in favor of better supported technologies, languages, and frameworks. It's not so much dead as it is a has-been pop band. While there are likely still developers out there writing in ColdFusion (obviously - see paragraph 3), finding one is a challenge. While any Web development shop (but not a Web design or WordPress studio) can likely help with maintenance, if you have an immediate need for emergency maintenance, your business likely doesn't have time to wait around to find expertise. That wait could be costing the company sales revenue or reputation.

The moral of the story is that you should understand how commonly implemented the technology your developer is going to use is. Does it still have the backing of a large community or organization? Is it being updated on a regular basis? Doing so will cement the longevity of maintenance. Google is one of your best resources - just do a search for the technology's name or acronym and add "market share" to your search terms.