Smith Willas is a freelance writer, blogger, and digital media journalist. He has a management degre
The doomsday predictions have yet to come. Despite the rise of “free”
platforms like WordPress and “walled garden” site builders like Wix, web
development as an agency specialty has yet to be killed off by DIY.
Not all companies have taken charge of building and maintaining their own websites. Some lack the expertise to take charge of the effort, while
others simply look to focus more on their other business activities. So
they’re still happy to outsource their requirements to dev agencies.
Besides, digital business evolves so quickly that companies often need to add new functionalities or occasionally redesign their sites. Fortunately,
developers and agencies now also have access to solutions that allow
them to fulfill these needs at scale.
Many of today’s web apps and services have also opened up their platforms via application programming interfaces (APIs), allowing third-parties to access various functionalities and data. As such, it’s possible for
sites to draw data from external sources such as social media, ecommerce
platforms and other cloud apps. Connected data can also be used to tap
into third-party content libraries and push content to websites,
simplifying content management and site maintenance.
Here are five ways connected data can essentially change the way developers and agencies approach website creation and management.
Integrations allow sites to access data and embed powerful functionalities from third-party services. Doing this conventionally, mind you, used to
require developers to write their own modules from scratch, which
required a high level of expertise to accomplish securely and at scale.
Image source: https://www.shore.com/en/reserve-with-google/
For developers and agencies, this can be simplified with the use of
integrations. For example, restaurants and wellness businesses can
easily integrate Shore’s appointment booking and customer management
features into their websites, while seamlessly syncing with third-party services like Google My Business.
Connected data also enables the use of content libraries, allowing sites to draw from any data set including databases and existing websites. For
example, a client may be looking to revamp its website within a tight
deadline. The agency can simply use connected data to populate content
across a variety of website templates, instantly creating a multitude of
functional design prototypes that the client can choose from.
Duda, for instance, is mainly used by agencies for its collaborative site
building functionalities, but its API also allows developers to update
content using externally hosted resources, or even to create entire websites with a push. This greatly benefits clients, since they are able to readily preview new designs and quickly deploy them upon approval. It also helps to minimize downtime, as there’s simply no place for “Site Under
Construction” pages in today’s internet.
Another key challenge for agencies is to help businesses to keep content
accurate and up-to-date. How many sites, especially those by small
businesses, display inconsistent or even contradicting information
across its pages?
Image source: https://www.yext.com/products/
Changes in key information such as pricing and contact details must be kept correct and they must be reflected in all the instances where the data
is displayed on the site. Connected data allows this to be done
automatically since any changes in the source of truth will be pushed to
all website elements and sections that draw from it. You can even use a
canonical business information platform like Yext as the single source of truth for all of your clients’ content — on their website and beyond.
The challenge in site creation today isn’t exactly how to make things work
or if certain features can be added to a site. There are plenty of
management systems, platforms, and plug-ins that can help developers
deliver these capabilities. It’s about speed by which businesses can get
their new or updated sites up and functional.
The ability to instantly customize functionalities, reuse information, and
deploy content gives companies the agility to tweak their experience
according to changes in their goals and objectives.
Businesses also have to quickly react to users’ fickle sensibilities. Just a few
years ago, blogs were all the rage among company websites. Today, it’s
all about social media and short form content. The future hints at the
need for more automation and chatbots. That said, users still expect to
see all of these functionalities be used by companies to create a rich
and satisfying user experience. Agency developers must be able to
provide their clients with the ability to deliver richer experiences
that engage visitors better.
data can help companies offer personalized browsing experiences by
using data gathered from the other aspects of the customer journey to
display more relevant content. Once you’ve connected the relevant social
media, email marketing, and advertising data platforms to your client’s
CRM, you can then use APIs to integrate that information with a tool like Personyze, which serves up personalized, targeted offers to individual site visitors.
Connected data should come as welcome progress for the web development space, as it simplifies many of the creation and maintenance tasks needed to keep websites relevant in today’s business environment.
Unfortunately, not all developers and agencies are capable of performing the necessary integrations to make this happen. There’s no shortage of shill agencies that claim to be full-service outfits but are only capable of creating front-end customizations and deploying what are now run-of-the-mill functionalities. Their inability to perform these integrations can
deprive their clients of the richer web experiences that connected data
This is why it’s critical for web developers and design agencies to ensure
that they have such capabilities. And it’s not about proving that they
can handle the coding challenges — it’s about providing immediate value
to their clients.
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