By now, you know that change is the only constant. You live in a world where today’s norm can easily be forgotten by tomorrow, replaced by new and better ways of doing and seeing and creating. We experience it in the way we live, travel, communicate and work. For developers, change is just another Tuesday.
While smart phones have technically been around since the nineties, they truly took over the world in the 2000s. The ability to take work from a desktop computer to a mobile device changed businesses everywhere. Those who didn’t move at the pace of technology were left behind, while the rest of us embraced the digital world as a concrete part of our lives. We switch between apps as naturally as we breathe, answering emails and posting selfies while catching up on the daily news all before breakfast. By lunchtime, there are more emails, more selfie opportunities and a whole different set of news alerts to take note of. Our world is fast, and the custodians of the digital world have no choice but to keep up.
A mere ten years ago, a development team would be asked to embark on a project. The planning phase would take weeks or even months before a single code was written. We would start by confirming the concept before moving on to a neat list of requirements for everyone involved. Only then could design begin, followed by coding, testing and finally implementation. Projects followed a linear approach, where each member of a team would begin their task only after their colleague had completed the previous step. We called it a waterfall approach and it worked very well, until the world began to move faster.
Today, developers who want to make digital products that are relevant and useful take the agile approach. While planning is still important, an agile approach allows for adaptability and collaboration which results in faster project delivery while maintaining quality. An agile approach is about taking a big project and breaking it down into several smaller tasks. Whenever a smaller task is completed, it is sent for feedback and approval immediately rather than waiting for the whole project to be complete. Agile ensures that nobody is working in vacuum. Feedback and customer involvement is constant, so there are no nasty surprises when the final product is delivered.
An agile approach works well because it is made for the ever-changing world in which we live. If, for example, your client requested a new website and wanted a contact page linking to the company’s social media pages, the design of this page would depend on which, and how many, social media pages the client wants to include. If you were taking a waterfall approach to the project, the approved designs may have featured an office telephone number, email address and icons for LinkedIn, Facebook and Google +. You would have coded the whole website and handed it over to your client, only to find out that Google+ is no longer active, the office number needs to be a WhatsApp line and the company has started a Tik Tok account. These changes mean going back to design, then coding, testing and reimplementation. Agile ways of working mean a few changes on one web page won’t set the entire project back. When companies work with agile developers, the products they launch into the digital world can remain relevant. With a few tweaks and adjustments to reflect current trends, ideas that are months old can still be profitable.
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Software development tools are often changing and updating to keep up with the pace that developers require. This makes it important for those who code to regularly research new and faster ways of creating their own software and applications. The role of the developer has evolved from the stereotypical image of a loner in a dark room working in isolation from the rest of the business. Today, a successful developer is up to date on new methods and wears multiple hats including that of user experience expert, researcher and even client liaison. Companies who bring the office geeks out of the server room and into strategy sessions or brainstorms are the companies who will thrive.
A fast-changing world means that developers should be innovators! Client requests for basic websites or tedious internal software is quickly being replaced by demands for cloud-based innovation. We are well into Industry 4.0, so automation, the Internet of Things, augmented reality and robotics will soon become the norm in areas where they aren’t already standard. As the capabilities of everyday objects from our phones to our fridges grow, developers who grow with technology are securing their futures. Start to look beyond the screen and bring elements of new technology to your projects. Something as simple as facial recognition or an in-app chatbot can make your apps stand out in a saturated industry.
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