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My 10 years in web development

Today marks the day that I started my first web development job. I’ve been working full time in my industry officially for 10 years now. This moment in time has given me a great chance to reflect on what the industry looked like 10 years ago and what it has now turned into.

When I decided I wanted to be a programmer the only way to learn was through printed books/manuals. You’d go to the library or book store spend a couple of hours deciding which computer manual you felt best fitted your need and then took it home and studied it. Then when you wanted to code on the computer you would have to either code from memory or have the printed manual in front of you as reference. If you had a bug in your code you’d have to work it out for yourself (which would involve hours of frustration and pain). Nowadays the learning process is much more community lead and accessible. You can crawl through YouTube videos / blogs / forums and learning communities such as https://stackoverflow.com/. If there’s a bug in your code, chances are someone else has also had the same problem and the answer is just a few searches away. The downside to learning online is now everyone has an opinion on up-and-coming software advancements and techniques and this can confuse and cloud your judgement on how to do your job properly.

There is A LOT that has happened but maybe for me one of the most notable changes is the way we communicate with our peers and clients. When I first started the telephone was probably the number one communication tool between clients and any internal communication was done face-to-face either by chatting at your desk or an internal meeting. Emails were used for communication but this was mostly used to send attachments / proposals / artwork and then a follow-up telephone call was done shortly after.

The last few years has seen an explosion in digital communication, messaging applications such as slack have made the way we talk to each other much more relaxed and sporadic this has its advantages and disadvantages. File sharing has become just a click (or drag) away and its easy to get the assets you might need for a project. A small request or query might have taken more of a formal approach but now it’s just a line of text away. Small things seem to get completed a lot quicker. However it’s not just slack, new messaging systems pop up all the time and different people have different preferences to the one they want to use. Before you know it you could be using 10 different forms of messaging applications. Overusing messaging applications and people find this “always on” approach to be distracting and stressful and perhaps less productive. The issue with a messaging application is people expect an instant answer. I think we should be able to feel OK if we need to switch of communications for set times of the day, or pull away and give a more constructed answer/reply. It’s certainly a hot topic for a debate.

10 years ago we saw the start of social media platforms and smart phones but I don’t think anyone could have predicted the explosion in “big storage data”. There is a massive amount of personal information out there and large companies such as Amazon/Facebook/Google have been involved in media coverage over storing this type of data. Watch Dogs (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Watch_Dogs_2), a video game set in current time depicts what could happen if this data is exploited by the wrong people and I’m sure it’s a subject that isn’t going to go away anytime soon. It will be interesting to see what effect GDPR will have on this in a few years time.

Front End advancements have seen static brochure style websites turn into fully responsive websites so that visitors can access the same website on multiple devices (mobile/tablet/desktop) and still get to the information they require. For a time this was an additional extra but now has become a standard requirement. People have become custom to using mobile applications and have come to expect the same user experience on desktop. We have started to see this type of development transferred onto desktop computers as more web based applications are appearing rather than the more tradition website.

Opensource and CMS/Ecommerce platforms have come on considerably. It wasn’t too long ago programmers were building bespoke/custom built solutions for every single project. WordPress came from being ‘just a blogging system’ to a fully managed CMS system used by 26.4% of the web. There’s 600 million WordPress-related search results on Google. WordPress enjoys 59.4% market share. There’s a reason for the popularity and with the popularity becomes a very good community for developers to bounce/share ideas and problems. I wouldn’t be surprised if we were still using it in another 10 years time.

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