Agile

Drupal 6.0 has left the Building!

Drupal 6.0 is no longer supported as of today (February 24th, 2016).

drupal-relay_1If your site runs on Drupal, it’s time to prepare to migrate your site if you need to, or if you think you might need to! If you’re uncertain, today is a good day to speak with your site administrator(s), or web development partner, about a potential migration.

So what does Drupal 8.0 bring to the table?

It will take some time to truly assess the new additions. But what it clear right out of the gate is that 8.0 offers vastly improved admin themes that are (finally!) responsive. There’s also a number of features that should help make Drupal more application-development friendly. This is what remains to be seen. But, if true, could help make Drupal a more cost-effective solution for custom development.

It’s going to be interesting to open the box and see how these new changes work in practice. But there’s reason to believe that this new launch could help open the door for more would-be Drupal adopters.

whats-new-in-drupal-8

Communication Breakdown: Web App

There’s a major problem in the world of app creation. You know what? I’d dare to go as far as to call it a minor crisis!

It’s a problem that stems from a simple but all too common miscommunication. It’s a case of semantics causing a complicated mess.

What is this catastrophe I’m referring to?

Folks are using the term ‘App’ when they really mean ‘Web App’ 

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Theres are a number of differences between a ‘Native’ App and a Web App. And the cavalier use of the the word ‘app’ to mean one or both of these tools creates endless confusion. So let’s break it down.

First of all, if I’m honest, the most noteworthy of the difference between a Native App and a Web App is the amount of time and money it takes to see an ROI on a native app. This is because, in many cases, tons of money is wasted building an app when the focus would be better served on a well designed web app.

So what exactly is a ‘Web App’, anyways? Web-App-vs-Native-app

A Web App is basically just a device agnostic website; it’s a site that is built to fit all browsers, including mobile devices. It might even look and feel like a proper app. The functionalities can be near endless. But a web app is always run through an internet browser.

Don’t call a Web App an ‘App’, call it a Web App (or ‘Mobile’ Web App, if you prefer).

Native apps, on the other hand, are proper ‘Apps’

Apps are built exclusively for IOS, Android, etc. They are not run through an internet browser. They are extraordinary useful tools and can even be vital for some business models to survive and thrive.

Apps can be invaluable tools. We’ll get to that. But they have some major downsides. Here’s two big ones: they’re costly and reach a limited audience.

The truth is that not every organization needs an app. In fact, many organizations won’t even gain anything from a dedicated native app. On the other hand, every modern company or organization needs a web app. This is doubly true if any of your service offerings are web-based.

If you want the content housed in your website to reach as many people as possible, a mobile responsive website is your ticket

And doesn’t this definition fit the needs sought out by most organizations?

Even if you might find the need for a native app down the line, it almost never makes sense if your organization doesn’t first build a rock solid web app.

At the end of the day, you only need to ask yourself one question: ‘is your organization trying to accomplish anything that can’t be achieved in a web browser?’

If the answer is ‘no’. It’s probably wise to resist paying for an app.

If the answer is ‘yes’ then maybe it’s time to jump in.

And if you are unsure whether the answer might be yes, then here’s a list of the very real reasons to have a native app:

  • They’re fastercoomplcated-app-store
  • They’re available offline
  • Any manner of unique functionalities tied to a device (i.e. touch screen game(s), utilization of a smart phone’s camera or GPS)
  • Accessibility or ‘high-use’ service (is yours a service that over 10% of clients could realistically use on a daily or even weekly basis?)

Would any of these functionalities add considerable value to your brand? It’s a vital question to consider. And it’s made more complicated by the fact that your answer is likely to fall in a gray area somewhere.

Here’s a handy dandy infographic from Functionality that some additional context:

MobilevsApp-e1346694503563

Key takeaway: Designing a great app is expensive

Finding a worthwhile ROI is extraordinarily tricky when it comes to launching an app. It’s why more and more organizations have learned to settle for extremely well designed Web App interfaces.

Discovery in Process

Every industry evolves

Service standards change across the board. It doesn’t even matter what your business might be, eventually development processes will be nearly unrecognizable to even your industry’s most veterans members. Whatever your service vertical, the urgency for new means to service your clients is likely there, even if small changes have to pile up quite a bit before they’re addressed.

Few industries are faced with such rapidly evolving standards as web development.

It can be a mine field of the unpredictable, even for well established firms like Gulo. To account for an ever-altering landscape, well constructed web development projects account for discovery as a requisite stage of the process. Indeed, this makes the discipline a model case study in agile processes.

It can be helpful to compare the building of a new web property with the construction of a new home or building construction-6

Web-based construction and physical construction projects each encounter countless complexities. Some of these challenges are quite a bit similar conceptually, if not in practice. Finding the impossible and utterly subjective balance between form and function is just one noteworthy challenge faced by both physical construction projects as well as those in the digital realm.

Of course, builders of corporeal structures face countless challenges all their own. But there’s at least one unique challenge in web-based building that is highlighted well by comparing the disciplines. Consider this:

unusual-buildings-36-pics_6What if completely different materials were used to construct buildings and homes every two years?

Been building homes with brick and mortar the past year?

Well this year many of your projects will be built with bamboo. Next year you’ll be building with clay! 

But what if it’s not just the materials that change rapidly! What if the tools used to build homes also changed?Strange-Building-Designs-cover

You’ve been using a saw and nails? Well, this project calls for scissors and glue!

Could you imagine what a challenge it would be for construction companies to keep up? The amount of continuing education they’d need? The non-stop search for material vendors and new partnerships? How often they’d have to hire new specialized employees, even?!

Welp, this example highlights the day to day reality for web builders!

In the digital realm, the building materials and the tools used to shape them are ever-changing. Indeed, coding and design standards evolve at an exponential pace. One thing is certain: in two years, the materials and tools used to build web properties will be strikingly different from what’s used most prevalently today.  This is an industry in which its painfully clear that you can never stop learning if you want to survive.

For Gulo employees (and those of a number of digital agencies) a number of educational courses are mandatory for all staff annually. Still, helpful as coursework can be, we learn our most invaluable lessons from the hands-on work of each new project. This is why we determined that constant discovery needs to be formalized into our process as we approach each new project.

So we need to make sure that we learn new lessons form each and every project we take on, regardless of how ‘general’ they might seem. But how can ongoing discovery be incorporated into a formal process?

Find out on Monday next week (10/26), when I’ll break down some time-tested strategies.