Regular readers will know that Ian Wrigley and I write this column on alternate months. We used to work together, but Ian moved to the USA several years ago and we don’t meet very often nowadays.
Ian was in the UK a couple of weeks ago so we met for a few drinks, and something that he told me then has resonated ever since and bizarrely influenced the way I look at things. Part of Ian’s job is training, and he said that he often tells his students about the web company we founded 15 years ago, and how it’s still going.
Then he tells them this makes it one of the oldest web companies in the world. While that’s true, I’d never thought about it that way.
From one standpoint it could be almost depressing that our company is 15 years old and we’re still in the same business
From one standpoint it could be almost depressing that our company is 15 years old and we’re still in the same business. But although we may be nominally in the same business, the way we work has changed immensely during that time.
When we started our “innovation” was to employ CGI programs to generate dynamic web pages: we wrote C programs that sifted through flat files containing content and bundled it all up into HTML pages.
To us this wasn’t a real innovation, but by industry standards back then – when most companies were still building large websites as collections of single pages written by hand – it probably was.
We stopped writing C programs to generate web pages years ago, but I think we’ve continued to do things that are ahead of the mainstream. If there’s one thing we’ve learnt it’s that not all innovations go well, but our ability to be clever when necessary has helped us survive.
If your client wants their website to work like Google Instant, you’ll have to employ a toolkit that has the appropriate behaviours built into it, rather than writing it for yourself.