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Tracy Gilmore
Tracy Gilmore

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My Web World

A personal opinion piece

I do not create websites. In my world "Content is [not] king". I don't care about SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), because my creations are seldom public/discoverable. Conversion rates (of visitors to customers) are of no concern because users have to use what I create to to their job, which means it has to work correctly and work well.

I am a Software Engineer experienced in many languages but specialised in the application of web technologies in the construction of business information systems.

Employing the web platform

Applications of all sizes these days employ web technologies to deliver the user interface (amongst other facilities).

In the early 90's the software industry had a few architectural problems. Many applications employed the client-server architecture, eventually evolving into the n-tier architecture. The server-side (aka backend) hosted the business logic, managed data persistence and conducted inter-systems communication. The client-side (frontend) supplied the presentation/user interface, which is not as trivial as it might sound.

The variety of technologies for backend and frontend was numerous, varied and often proprietary often leading to a condition known as vendor locking. The mechanisms, in the early days, were also non-standard and often over complicated in the attempt to offer developers an all-in-one toolset.

Web technologies have been disruptive (in a good way) to the software development industry and brought many solutions including open-standards; although there were other sources of open-standards as well as W3C and ECMA.

We could stop (to a degree) being quite so concerned about how we deploy and maintain the user interface because the web browser was becoming ubiquitous. However, standardisation of some web technologies and the consistent implementation of standards in browsers would take a while.

Modern problems

We have come a long way since the browser wars. In fact since the dawn of MS Edge and especially the Chromium-based version things have become considerably easier and more consistent.

There is considerable crossover between the development of websites and web applications from a technology perspective, but there are also many differences.

Not hard and fast rules (you are free to disagree) but in general;
Websites are often a collaboration between software developers and content creators, assisted by UX designers.

Web applications usually have quite a few more moving parts and require a wider skill set. Applications often have to manipulate various forms of data and encapsulate business processes that are specific to an industry.

And of course the boundary between the two is no way as distinct as I have made it sound above.

One thing both ends of the web platform have in common is Accessibility. The vast majority of web-based systems, if not all, need to engage with humans be them; visitors, customers, end users or administrators (etc.) But one thing we are starting (slowly) to get to grips with is the fact that not all humans are the same and some need the interface (not just content) to be provided in different forms and to be made Accessible (A11y).

In my lifetime the world has changed considerably and become far more dependent on the World Wide Web; all too often with little to no regard for those humans less comfortable with or able to utilise modern technology.

As I get older I am becoming more aware of such needs. Despite being comfortable with technology I frequently encounter on-line systems that have given scant regard for those users that might find the interface challenging.

The kids might do everything via their mobile phones but they have younger eyes and more flexible fingers than many of use. I still mind filling out on-line forms easier on my laptop and I am not convinced 'dark mode' is easier to read and less stressful on the eyes.

On that last subject 'dark mode', I recently came across an article suggesting that older people or those with some eye conditions often find dark mode more not less straining on the eyes. This goes to suggest that not only are all humans not the same. You are not the same person you were yesterday. Of course the changes day-to-day are miniscule but from year-to-year they become far more noticeable.

I was 45 before I needed spectacles (glasses) but the trigger was quite stark. Until then my eyesight was adequate but I was on assignment where I needed to drive more than 3hrs to get to my client. By the time I got there my eyes had adjusted so much to the demands of driving they could not adjust quickly to the change of purpose. It took an hour before I could read anything on a screen. The writing was on the wall so to speak - the time had come to see an optician.

Top comments (1)

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Andre Du Plessis

Thanks for another good read and putting me back on the path to what seems to be a good starting point for a11y. I have read about a11y and especially i18n a lot on places like freeCodeCamp, Sitepoint and in a few blogs here and there. Yet, very few MIT repos on GH seem to take these things into serious consideration.

My journey started off with finding a suitable alternative to WordPress. Apart from all the security ailments it faced some years ago—and still does—when I started my research, I found it inflexible to do what I had in mind. Stumbled on Laravel and have been tumbling down that rabbit hole since.

The way the framework lends itself to be seamlessly integrable with Node, Vue, Svelte, Alpine, Elm, and, and, was quite refreshing to me. Whether it be monolithic, decoupled, headless or shattered into micro-services. It seems a lot is doable with this seemingly well secured PHP workhorse (time will tell).

I also prefer the EU way of focussing more on getting my stuff properly done to i18n and GDPR standards. Working hard to learn well and pull it all off.