I’d like to explain something today that both web developers and business owners need to know. It’s called technical debt, and it’s bad for everyone. Yes, even web developers. It’s something that we’ve been very passionate about at our Kansas City web development agency, mostly because we see how it plays out in the real world first hand.
What Is Technical Debt
So what is “technical debt?” Don’t google it, you’ll get a bunch of complicated mumbo jumbo. Here’s the shorthand version: “the cost of keeping technology up to date.” Wherever there’s technology, there’s technical debt. It can be software, and even hardware.
Internet Explorer. It’s been around since, well probably the internet. It was becoming so expensive to maintain a sub-par browser (that everyone hated) that Microsoft ditched it completely. That’s why it’s called “Edge” now, even though they used the same “E” logo. How about your company’s “custom built” CRM that was made in 1990, sucks, and can’t integrate with anything? Doing any further development gets really expensive.
Technical Debt In Web Development
And then there’s your website. Let’s be fair, it has to shake hands with a lot of things. Think about it; your device, operant system, browser – all of which have many variations and versions.
The amount of browser, security, operating system, and CMS updates that occur on a weekly basis is relentless. Not kidding. Relentless. Think it’s slowing down? Not a chance.
If you don’t develop a website with a framework that’s flexible and forward thinking, you’ll have so much technical debt that you’ll, well, just get angry. Simple things like changing styles, doing security updates, adding new features; they’ll all take much longer than necessary if a site’s not built right. And that means it becomes really expensive to do anything.
Why It’s Costly – For Everyone
For starters, time is money. Having a lot of technical debt makes any initiate take a lot longer for web developers to work out. That means it costs more money to have done. I’ve seen it a hundred times; a web design company built a custom CMS and has to charge their customer $100 to create a new page – instead of being able to push “add new page” in two seconds.
Sure, billables are nice for Kansas City web development companies. But then you run into a problem because nobody will want to work with a company that charges an arm and a leg to do something simple.
Technical debt slows innovation, discourages new initiatives, and eventually squelches growth. For everyone – web development agencies and their clients. It’s a lose-lose.
How Web Developers Can Avoid Technical Debt
You’ve got to invest time into R&D, and be okay with abandoning your old ways. There’s no silver coding bullet. Learn and adapt in as cost effective way as possible. It’s largely a frame of mind of your top level leadership in the agency and your business model. So be smart about jumping on bandwagons, and don’t play your violin and sink with the ship.