Chris Peters's Blog

The disposable interface

March 20, 2008

Imagine a world where your work is disposable. That’s right, trashed. You’re a COBOL programmer, and everyone wants to rewrite your applications in Java. HTML is all the rage.

A few years pass, and HTML isn’t good enough anymore. So that work gets entirely replaced by a Flex application.

Where does it end?

As a web developer, you need to start concerning yourself with making your interfaces disposable. The User Interface world is changing rapidly, and you need to be ready. It’s time to start learning how to structure your code so that you don’t need to reinvent the wheel every time a new technology comes out.

The interface evolved

Adobe, The Nielsen-Norman Group, and even Microsoft are pushing the envelope on what we should expect for and from our interfaces. Adobe has introduced continual updates to Flash and has released AIR. NNG finds large trends in how our user interfaces are failing users. And Microsoft allows us to connect to our data from a multitude of types of clients.

All of these factors are causing change. We all know it’s a good thing. But we all know that change is a very difficult thing to cope with.

The responsibilities extend beyond interface designers’ roles

Web 2.0 companies like Google, Facebook, and 37 Signals have it right. They’ve found ways to make their data more pliable, and they’ve even added APIs so that innovation can happen outside of their own 4 walls.

37 Signals has created Ruby on Rails, a popular coding method that separates interface code from business logic code.

Some small teams have developed iPhone versions of their applications over a weekend. A weekend. Not months!

All of these companies have made the investments in their infrastructure so that they’re ready for AIR, AJAX, and any other client-side technology that you can name. They’re more prepared for the future than most tech companies.

Writing code that “works” simply isn’t enough anymore. It also needs to be ready for inevitable change.

Get on with it

It’s time for you as a web developer to step up to the plate and produce technology that’s ready for change. How are you doing so today?

It’s time to wrap your head around SOA, MVC, semantic HTML, and how all of this ties into the future.

Written by Chris Peters, your friendly neighborhood digital marketing professional with over 20 years of experience of web design, programming, SEO, and marketing.