A look into the future of delivering web services

How times have changed for web-design companies: Back in the 1990’s a web design company would be responsible for close to 100% of the code deployed.

This is not the case today, web sites are built on development frameworks and use a plethora of plugins and layered applications. A typical web site uses countless third-party services, including Google Analytics, A/B testing, postcode look-ups, form handlers, site-maps, security & spam systems, cookie management and tracking pixels. This doesn’t include the front-end plugins for fonts, Javascript and other special effects such as slideshows, light boxes, images galleries and pop-ups.

Does this mean the end of large-scale, single vendor deployments? I think so. Using a single vendor to deliver the wide range of applications and services cannot survive long-term as no one vendor can deliver a best-of-breed solution over the life of the web site.

Using layered services, or plugins, offers clients the chance to pick and choose the best components for the job intended and swap them in and out easily. We’re starting to see this best-of-breed mentality starting to grow around the ubiquitous WordPress (WP) platform. The basic WP installation is very basic indeed but it’s very simple to add a bunch of plugins, drop the result on a hosted service (such as the excellent WPEngine) and you end up with a highly configurable, very powerful web-site.

The other benefit of using standard platforms is the ease with which they adapt to new technology. Swapping out the current theme for new one that, for example, supports responsive design is a matter of spending a few bucks on a new theme and then a day migrating the site and maybe a couple of days after tidying up the bits that don’t work 100%. Less than a week to port a site to a new design has, until recently, been unheard of. Migrating designs on large sites used to take months and cost a small fortune.

Driving down the resource and monetary cost of migrations speeds up the evolution cycle, encourages testing, divorces legacy and allows forward-thinking organisations to build sustainable market-leadership that less agile organisations are in awe of.

Agility is a key part to making this successful, there is little point in buying a 200mph car to only use it for shopping trips. The liberation that layered application gives us must be grabbed and pushed to the limit and this, I fear, is the primary showstopper for many organisations stuck in a traditional operational cycle where the primary aim remains to do more of the same.

Connected-uk.com were formed right back at the start of the Internet (1996) and have continually evolved to stay abreast of technology. We’ve made some good calls (hating Flash back in 2001, growth of the semantic web in 2008) and some bad calls (The P in LAMP stands for Perl, rejecting cloud-services in 2009). We’re looking forward to a new web, a interesting place and we’re got our long-range technology radar working pretty spot on.

2013 will see a whole raft of new technological advances and new products from Connected.

Starting in January, we’ve got a new version of myBookingWizard.com (v2.1) with social integration, mobile orientation, infinite scrolling, tidier calendar management and mapping support for desktop and mobile device.

VNX is due in Beta; providing a layered framework for plugin and layer applications for WordPress and will support, out of the box a number of standard functions currently available in our VITES 3.x platform but on the WP platform on the cloud. This will give an easy and scaleable path for future clients and also an upgrade path for existing VITES 2.x and 3.x clients.

At the end of Q1, Socale will be released into restricted alpha. Offering improved web site conversion rates, simpler data acquisition and social mapping when your customers login or registration with an existing social identity. Socale is a cloud-based solution that is easily implemented on any web site allowing access to rich profile data from social network accounts. The service is compliant with the EU Data Protection Act and delivered via a WordPress plugin and customisable JS widgets.

Further VNX Framework Layer Applications are planned for release during 2013 as cloud-based, simple-to-deploy applications including a killer form handler.

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