Creating a website is a lot more complicated than it used to be

From simplicity to complexity

A hundred years ago, inventors were often individuals working alone. Emerging technologies were simple enough to fit into one person's head, and it was often possible for a sole individual to bring a entire new, groundbreaking product to market singlehandedly. Think of the lightbulb, penecillin, the first airplane, dynamite and if you go back far enough, the wheel. Although many inventors had partners or assistants, it was simple enough for one person to do. Think about how simple a lightbulb is compared to, let's say, a Boeing 787.

Today, almost every new technology is complex. A new product takes more people and more individual expertise than ever. A hundred or so years ago, you could become a doctor simply by hanging out your shingle. (Perhaps that's why it's called "practice".) Today, a physician will study his or her subject for many years before becoming professionally qualified and then, specialize in an ever-narrowing field.

The professionalization of web services

Websites first went mainstream in the 1990s. The first primitive tools produced simple websites. The underlying tools and technologies were fewer and smaller, and expectations were correspondingly low. Things plodded forward at a modest pace until, roughly speaking, mobile tecchnology came of age.

In the year 2000, you could crack open a website building tool and master it in a few days. You didn't have to be a computer programmer. Then, almost overnight, mobile technology hit mainstream. It seemed, everyone and his mother were suddenly using mobile phones, tablets and other devices to browse the web. And with that change, websites had to behave in a whole new set of ways. Expectations rose dramatically, and huge pressure came to bear on the mom-and-pop website builders.

In what ways did website requirements change?

  1. No more flat, one-size-fits-all websites
    The old flat websites have not totally gone away yet -- not by a long shot -- but the pressure is now for every business to get with this new way of presenting websites. A modern website must behave differently depending upon what type of device the website is being viewed upon. the new, technical word for that capability is Responsive.
    It's not sufficient simply to have one "desktop" website and one "mobile" website. A single, responsive website is required increasingly now by search engines if you ever want your website to be competitive in search results.
  2. Your website must be fast
    As people have gotten savvier about how they use the Internet, their patience for slow or mediocre performance websites has diminished.
    A big dirty secret of commodity hosting service companies is that they cram hundreds or even thousands of websites on a single physical server. It's one of the reasons they can offer hosting for such a low price. Aging hardware and overcrowding results in slower websites.
    Search engines are promoting faster websites over slower ones now, so your website needs to be hosted on fast hardware. In the grand scheme of things, the added cost of a dedicated, modern web server is miniscule.
  3. Fresh content is required
    Whether it's a blog posting, a news item, a press release or valuable new information for your website visitors, search engines expect to see new content arriving on your website regularly. Every week is good, every day is excellent, but it mostly depends on your competition. The player in your market space who does fresh, new content will have a search results advantage over those who do not. They will also be more likely to get repeat visitors to their website.
  4. Security must be robust.
    Website hackers have gotten far more sophisticated than they used to be, and websites are more complicated than ever. That combination means that, sooner or later, your website will come under attack. It likely won't be obvious, though. A clever hack to a website will be to simply, for example, add new pages to it that provide backlinks to other websites of the hacker's choosing. That type of "lightweight" hacking is common, and it will compromise your standing in search results.
    You need a website content management system that is kept up-to-date with the latest security upgrades available.

More to come...

Today, a website service provider needs to 

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