Lately, when we are speaking at conferences or talking to clients we find ourselves saying “We couldn’t do this 5 years ago”. Often it’s in reference to a way of working or a way of development that has been enabled by technologies that have come into existence or matured in the past 5 years.
About 5 years ago (pre Teehan+Lax) we worked on a site that was effectively a blog. Blogging software didn’t exist at that time so in order to build this site it had to be coded from scratch. It took about 50 people almost a year to develop it. Today we could build the same site in about 3 weeks with 4 people using WordPress or some other blogging tool.
Recognizing that there are new ways to work and new ways to create is essential in today’s market. In Web 1.0 we viewed site development like software development; a massive scoping effort followed by requirements, followed by many months of development and testing followed by release. Lather, rinse, repeat.
In today’s digital environment users aren’t prepared to wait months for new functions. Microsoft is learning this the hard way, taking 7 years to release their new OS Vista. Sites like Flickr are actually updating code every 30 minutes. We’ve moved from software version numbers to timestamps.
Ask yourself, what has changed in the past 5 years? What can I do today that I couldn’t do 5 years ago? How has development changed? How has the Internet changed? How have my users changed?