Future-Proofing Websites and the Fear of Working in the Present

Last week I designed another new website. It uses a lot of techniques considered to be modern best practice – a HTML5, responsive framework, CSS3 styling, media queries and a CSS3 animation just for some extra visual interest. It was fun and it was rewarding.

While everything I read is telling me that this is great and absolutely the way to be designing websites ‘these days’, I can’t shake this feeling that it’s only a matter of time before it goes the same way as every other website: outdated and running off now-frowned-upon code.

What’s the problem?

WiresI’m not happy with the website, despite it checking lots of boxes. I’m already looking forward and thinking ‘right, what’s next?’. Replace all images with SVGs? Change all links to be CSS3 animated? Cut down the framework to be even simpler and more lightweight? It feels like a never-ending cycle of pressure to update and improve every website I build, as they come along. There is no end. And I’m ok with that – I understand that mine is an insanely fast-paced industry with a virtually insurmountable breadth of avenues to explore and master.

But it becomes a problem when you don’t know where to start with your next project. It becomes a problem when there is a degree of choice-paralysis. More so when you don’t know the correct answer. And given the speed of development in web design, the thought of falling behind is petrifying.

You cannot indefinitely design for the future in any one moment

I’m at the stage now where I feel like I need to just wait. To put off designing any more websites until the full spec of HTML5 has been scoped. Until there is a more efficient stylesheet reset. Until there is a standard level of browser support on every mobile device. Until a higher screen resolution is adopted across all smartphones. Until I know that what I’m creating now….will last forever.

And I know this is wrong. Because it isn’t possible. You cannot indefinitely design for the future in any one moment. More than anything it’s a mental block. For me at least. I find moments where it almost completely inhibits my productivity.

What’s the answer?

Single wire

Fear of working in the now for what lies ahead is a silently dangerous and debilitating state of mind

The correct answer is…. that there is no answer. Nobody is right. Because nobody really knows what lies in wait. The more experienced, educated, conceptualists amongst us will have their ideas. And they might be closer to the mark than you or I. But they don’t know.

Fear of working in the now for what lies ahead is a silently dangerous and debilitating state of mind. There will always be the option to wait it out and see what happens before you employ a new technology, technique or whatever it may be. But you can’t do this forever. Sometimes you have to take what you know, the hours of research you’ve put in, the lines and lines of text telling you what so and so considers the best approach – take it and run with it.

Work in the present – just do it the right way

There is little point in continually worrying over changing technologies. You can’t control that. What you can do is use the tools available to you, the most reliable resources and the most considered approach to everything you do.

There is so much content out there about what is the “correct” way to design for the future web. You won’t be able to read it all, digest it all, compare it all and then make the most informed decision. It’s too easy to lose sight of what you are trying to achieve in amongst all the noise and differing opinions.

Design for what’s in front of you. And do it with confidence. Because if you’ve done your homework and you believe in what you do, you’ll make the right decisions.

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