Future-proof your website to stay competitive for the long haul
How to make this relaunch your last relaunch
In an ever-evolving technological landscape, keeping your brand and technology up-to-date and competitive can feel like a full-time job. Whether you’re working on a website relaunch, a brand refresh, or a system-wide version update, it’s going to be time-consuming and expensive, not to mention repetitive. When your focus turns instead to future-proofing your website, you ensure your design and technology are ready for anything, now and for the long-term.
Why future-proofing matters
Relaunching can be frustrating for all involved: executives, designers, developers, even your clients and users. It can steal valuable hours away from your team, whose attention is better spent on high-value client work. The inevitable downtime when your website goes offline means you miss out on hours or days of valuable revenue. Updating can be repetitive work or, depending on how long you’ve waited, a mountainous task for your developers. Spending your team’s time on future-proofing, on the other hand, is a long-term strategy that helps you avoid wasting money and stay responsive.
Future-proofing is a broad category, but in web design and development, it means adopting and adhering to technical and design practices that will stand the test of time. These practices include responsive web design, staying updated, and observing the latest official standards. Stefanie Kreuzer, UX designer at b13, defines her version of future-proofing. “Ensuring the foundation of the site’s basic functionality is always adaptable, flexible, and easy to maintain is how you make it future-proof,” she says.
By providing you with a flexible base, future-proofing helps you respond proactively to changes instead of reacting and then hustling to catch up. “If you want to respond in a flexible, agile way to new needs or trends, you have the foundation ready to act on command and don't have to get everything cleared up first,” says Stefanie.
David Steeb, b13 founder and head of frontend development, explains why future-proofing benefits everyone:
- Your team — “Every project we work with is structured in the same way. You don’t have to worry about old code because you don’t have any. The codebase is only what you need. That’s our standard.”
- Your client — “If you have seven extensions in your codebase that you don’t need, but you need to upgrade every version change, that takes time and it’s expensive. Our way is much easier to maintain.”
- Your users — “If you have clean code, you have fewer bugs and a faster, better user experience.”
Future-proofing best practices for design and tech
Understand customers’ long-term needs
Start off any project by ensuring you understand the customer’s long-term goals; these will help map out the website’s core concepts, foundation, and structure. Check in frequently with clients to stay aligned during the future-proofing process.
Treat your website as a dynamic system
Managing your website as a dynamic, living system so it (and your team) are ready to adapt to changes is another key practice in future-proofing. In addition to having a flexible foundation, this includes staying on top of the most recent design standards and keeping current with documentation. “Creating a living design system that is always growing and always updated is critical to future-proofing,” says Stefanie.
Update, maintain, and clean up as you go
Consistent updates, maintenance, and new feature development are the backbone of technical future-proofing. In addition to minimizing third-party code and cleaning up superfluous code, b13 separates maintenance changes into smaller parts that can be integrated into the system incrementally. “We don't want to block development and deployments across other, different parts of the system because of ‘that one big new feature that is not ready’. Incremental maintenance helps us plan for the future accordingly,” says David.
Automate where and when you can
Employing automation can be a very advantageous approach when future-proofing. “Automating makes maintaining, evolving, and expanding websites easier to manage,” asserts David. b13 uses automated deployment processes for any test, staging, or production environment changes. “We include tests in our pipelines, ensuring that business-critical features work after any change and rollback changes that break these features. We detect breaking changes early by testing every deployment, including our test environments. We can deploy on Fridays or update our own website on the evening before our Christmas break to TYPO3 v12 — which we did last year,” says David.
b13’s proven future-proofing expertise
b13 takes future-proofing seriously, and maintaining a future-oriented mindset is an essential part of that. “Our mindset when we start with a new client is always a long-term one,” says David. “Technologically speaking, if we don’t take into account that the code we’re writing today is something we’ll have to rewrite in 5 years, then we suffer. So we always work in a way that we want to and are able to maintain for the long-term.” And this long-term mindset is important on the conceptual and design side as well.
b13’s dedication to long-term outlooks is evident in their clients’ websites, some of which they have maintained for 10-15 years. These years of irreplaceable experience have expanded b13’s scope of knowledge and sharpened their know-how. “Not only have we run into every problem you can come across, but we’ve also learned from our past mistakes,” says David. b13’s experience also means they are comfortable venturing beyond simple problems and into more complex ones. “We know how complex systems need to be set up so that you don't program yourself into a corner,” says David.
b13 also benefits enormously when it comes to future-proofing by having TYPO3 Core developers on their team. David explains, “Since we are the ones developing the next TYPO3 versions, we not only know how the system will evolve, but also how to solve problems at the root.” This almost-omniscient advantage extends beyond b13 and their current project or client; anyone who uses TYPO3 benefits too. “If a client comes to us with a problem, we might end up solving the problem for the entire system, not just the client,” says David. This knowledge isn’t limited to developers either. “Every designer at b13, at least once in their life, has maintained something in the backend, so we know how it works and how to set elements up correctly,” says Stefanie.
Future-proof for long-term success
Future-proofing your website is a critical undertaking, and b13’s future-proofing methods will help ensure your website is always ready to respond to the changing technical landscape. “Future-proofing helps you remain competitive and keep your trajectory future-oriented, which is especially important in tech,” says Stefanie.
Contact b13 if you’re ready to future-proof your website.