My job title is ‘Senior Developer’, and that conjures for many pictures of code-surfing and digital tinkering. That’s certainly part of the developer’s role: whether for a piece of software, a new app or a website, we design and program stuff. We’re like a twenty-first-century watch-maker, meticulously making sure that the cogs under the cover tick as they should. But a lot of watches are digital these days. Every given technology changes, and with that so, too, do the roles associated with them.
Developers are no different: we’re often seen as being at the front-line of the digital revolution, but the thing about the front-line is that it’s always inching forward. We all have to keep up. So here’s a challenge: some sources say that ninety per cent of the internet’s content was created in the last two years. That’s a boggling figure which I’m not sure could ever be confirmed, but even the existence of such a rumour should strike us. There is, we’re all aware, more content online than ever before: videos and GIFs, news copy and audio.
There is not just a wealth of stuff for us to digest online, but an embarrassment of riches: where do we start, and how do we get the most out of it? This might seem at first like a problem for someone other than the developer: the copywriter, perhaps, or the graphic designer. But the best websites of today – and especially of the future – are a bit smarter than that. One of the areas in which the front-line of development is inching forwards is in how we plan content. And at Image+ we’re keeping right up with the latest, er, developments.
Put simply, with so much data online users need to know more than ever that they can get what they need quickly and efficiently. By ‘content’, we mean the stuff that’s on your business’s website, the words and pictures that you hope will retain customers and convert new business – and users want to be able to get to it intuitively and understand it instantly.
This puts pressure on developers: it used to be that we’d build a website and then populate it with content. But increasingly we’re starting with the content and building outwards. Why? Because there’s now so much of it that we need to make more sense of it: how does a user journey through your website, what do they want to find, what’re the best means of making it engaging and interesting to them? You can only build a great website by answering these questions first.
There’s a final challenge, too: it’s not enough to be relevant to humans. You need to be relevant to search engines, too, and make sure that your content will be rewarded by them and shoot your site up the rankings. Again, that’s best achievable by an alliance between developer and content creator … and you can only get that sort of synergy in an all-purpose agency like Image+.
By 2020, there are going to be ten times as many content-delivering devices connected to the internet than there are humans on Earth. So, code-surfing side, us developers have got a lot of work to do on that front-line…