Web development is a constantly evolving field. The only thing we can truly count on is the field will continue to change a rapid pace. But, hey, what can you expect from a field thoroughly embedded with technology.
The way we build web apps and websites is changing. New development libraries are being added on an almost daily basis. There are new jobs, new languages, new startups, new directions. How are we possibly going to keep up?
Instead of getting overwhelmed about the future and all the potential challenges you’ll face, it’s a more proactive position to look at the problems you’ll face and address them head-on.
Below we’re going to dive into the most common development challenges you’ll face today. Whether you’re a freelancer, working for a company, or are about to set off on your own, you’ll need to know how to hurdle these challenges and come up with effective solutions.
Let’s get to it!
1. Understanding Integration
Back in the day, everything used to be built in-house. It was rare for companies to integrate with other applications. However, nowadays applications are built on the backs of other successful applications.
This creates a unique challenge for you. On one hand, you no longer need to build things like subscriptions, payment processing, storage solutions, or a multitude of other features from the ground up. But, you now need to integrate with other solutions that are already providing these things.
This creates a whole new set of information and processes for you to understand and put to use. For instance, each integration brings things like, understanding a new API, a new set of code, and troubleshooting common problems.
It not only requires a deep understanding of your own code, but also the code from another company or developer. This is why being able to have a bird’s-eye perspective is much more valuable. You’ll be able to see how the different pieces of the puzzle fit together, so you can more easily build and ship reliable solutions.
Speed is becoming increasingly important. It seems that user attention spans are dropping and along with that their ability to wait for things to load. What does this mean for developers?
It means your code needs to be lightweight and fast. It means you can’t have any clunky elements cluttering up your code. This means you need to be able to create feature heavy applications that perform incredibly well.
This requires the ability to know how to code complex features that aren’t very resource heavy. In the future, we’re going to highlight common indicators of clunky code and what you can do to minimize them, but for the moment just know that the speed of your application is incredibly important.
3. Great User Experience
The point of any web app, website, or piece of software should be to enhance the lives of the user. It’s easy to lose track of this point when you’re neck deep in miles of code. But, it’s something you need to be proactively aware of on a regular basis.
Today it seems that most users have gotten a little spoiled. If your application doesn’t immediately line up with the user’s expectations, then they’re going to find another solution. We exist in a very crowded marketplace, chances are there are dozens of solutions to the same problem you’re solving.
Good design and great code must work together to provide the user with the best experience possible. Aside from the aspects of your app that interface with your clients and customers, you’ll also need to consider other developers.
Do you offer easy integration to extend the functionality of your app? Is your API easy to copy and expand upon?
Remember this mantra: don’t ship anything that doesn’t create a solid user experience.
4. Multi-Platform Use
These days creating for a single platform is no longer enough. Even if you’re serving a very small niche, the chances are high that they’re going to be suing a wide variety of access points. From desktop computers, to iPads, to smartphones, to devices in the future that haven’t even been released yet!
Without carefully thinking through the wide variety of environments you need to cater to you run the risk of providing a less-than-stellar user experience. Which, we know from above, is never a good thing.
Before you build out anything, think through what kinds of devices it’s going to be viewed upon, which browsers you’ll need functionality for, any existing APIs you’re going to need to rely on, and which screen sizes and resolutions you’ll need to support.
Security is only going to play a bigger role into the future. With things like the NSA leaks, the FBI and Apple debate, and recent data leaks that have gotten mainstream attention, it seems that today’s web users are becoming more privacy savvy.
Security breaches are steady on the rise, but it seems that a lot of websites and web apps aren’t keeping with the ongoing threats. Patches are usually done after the fact, which means the software is patched only after the weak points are discovered. This isn’t necessarily bad, as long as the patch is implemented quickly.
Building a safe and secure app or website requires an entirely new set of questions and practices, all of which will help you to become a better developer.
- How can you more effectively keep every area of your app secure?
- Do you have a regular patching protocol?
- Do you review your code on a regular basis as information about threats becomes known?
- Do you monitor traffic for strange information requests?
- Are you aware of the weak points in your code?
We could probably keep creating this list forever. But, there’s no need to overwhelm you. By keeping an eye out for the above challenges you’ll be able to quickly raise your skills and value as a developer.
What about you? Any common challenges you’d add to the list? Please share in the comments below.