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3 Reasons to Future Proof Your Website

Posted on Friday 4th February 2011 at 00:00
The technology that all websites are built on is changing. Will your site be ready to embrace the change, or are you risking unplanned downtime in the future?

Over the last few years, we've all started to take our websites for granted. That's because a lull in the browser wars during the first half of the last decade resulted in a slowdown in standards development. Now things are speeding up and you are in danger of being left behind. Here are 3 very good reasons to ensure that your website is future proof right now.

1. Changes in browser market share

According to the latest browser usage reports the user bases of each of the leading browsers is currently changing. Microsoft's Internet Explorer - the market leader for a decade - is seeing a steady decline in users, with many people (now 10% of the total market share) switching to Google Chrome. Likewise, Mozilla Firefox continues to be a strong contender, and Opera and Apple's Safari are more popular now than ever before (in the case of Safari, mostly due to the popularity of the iPhone). Given that each browser displays websites in a slightly different (sometimes very different) way, you simply can't afford to let your website go untested in any of the leading browsers, for fear of alienating a lot of your visitors. The days of "Best Viewed in Internet Explorer" are long gone.

2. Changes in browsers themselves

Speak to any web developer and they will tell you there is a set of web standards on which the internet is based, set out by the W3C. They'll also tell you that different browsers comply with the standards to different degrees (they'll usually cite Internet Explorer as the worst offender). As time goes on, all of the major browsers are competing to improve the degree of their compliance to the standards, and this means that there are significant new versions of almost all of them due to be released in 2011. If your site is a few years old, chances are it was designed to work with the browsers of the day. Even if it still works properly now, the chances are it will stop working very soon indeed.

3. Changes in the World Wide Web

For many years, the web has run on a standard known as HTML 4.01. This standard is now being replaced by a new version known as HTML5. Whilst a lot of the code is the same, many advances have been made in the new standard, which makes websites work better and faster for the people who view them. Similarly a new version of the Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) standard, CSS3, is now being integrated into browsers. This will greatly enhance the cosmetic abilities of your pages, as well as making them a little easier to create for your web master. Unfortunately, even where backwards compatibility is maintained, any website that doesn't make the most of the new features is going to look out of date soon.

Another change worth noting is to the Internet's IP address system. Since the beginning of the internet, all computers and web servers have used an address book called IPv4, containing a possible 4 billion addresses. Unfortunately this is now almost depleted and the internet will soon switch to a new address book called IPv6. This will require every server to be switched over, so if someone manages your website for you, make sure you ask them whether or not they're ready for IPv6 yet.

So there you have it, 3 excellent reasons to make sure you future proof your website. If you want to find out more, or if you are considering a site upgrade, drop me a comment and I'll be happy to get back to you :-)

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