Digital Transformation on the Web Today
In one of our previous posts, Paul Boag noted that digital transformation “is about meeting the needs of changing customer expectations” and emphasized that the digital evolution has changed customer behavior. With digital services and products, people now have plenty of choices, and they are quick to dismiss options that don’t fit. Also, thanks to social media, any individual can reach large audiences, which gives customers additional power. This article will extend Paul’s discussion of digital transformation to a company’s digital presence, especially in terms of tech implementations.
The Evolution of Digital Presence
Simply put, digital presence means all the ways you or your company can appear online, including websites, mobile applications, and social media interactions. Digital presence is driven by digital transformation, so your business should react to changing client expectations by adjusting or adapting your digital presence in all ways possible, from changing your tone in a social media post to a total website redesign/replatforming.
Decades ago, digital presence was limited to an enterprise website, which usually took the form of a static page or a PHP application supported by a MySQL database running on a shared Linux environment, the well-known LAMP stack. There were no APIs, no mobile apps, no bots—the most you could have was a contact form or a chat online. People were still used to finding solutions to their problems on their own and offline.
But with all of today’s digital dynamics—perhaps as a result of social platforms—a simple contact form is no longer enough. Instead, you need to offer diverse, personalized options to allow customers to reach you: rich frontend applications with UX in place, with responsive design in place, chat bots, real person chat support, phone contact support, social network accounts, and mobile apps, among others. These offerings need to be built upon a solid infrastructure, allowing faster server responses, high availability, machine learning models, integration, and more. If this sounds like a lot, that’s because it is, but today it’s the only way to keep up with your users.
Digital Transformation and Tech Implementation
Given how demanding digital transformation is, companies need to be very careful about selecting a tech stack to adjust their online presence. Of course digital transformation doesn’t only mean using the latest tech products or having a great website, but knowing which tools provide your company with the best basis for success. The following sections discuss digital transformation in terms of tech implementation.
User Experience Design
The days when only engineers and programmers designed interfaces are over. Today, it’s important to know how users interact with websites. This means, for example, that we may need to determine why an element of an interface should exist and how it will facilitate user interaction.
Websites, mobile apps, or any other interface you provide to your market should be built with user awareness, so the team needs to make decisions on numbers of clicks, button placement, viewports, and orientation, for example. Today’s user interfaces look cleaner and allow users to complete actions with fewer interactions. Your website needs to be user friendly or your digital presence, and likely your revenues, will suffer.
Are you aware of all the backend support possibilities cloud providers and third-party services offer today? Perhaps you take them for granted, but decades ago, running a Python or Ruby application, for instance, on a cloud server was almost impossible. PHP was the king of the web, and its use was expanded due to content management systems like Joomla or Drupal. Today, though, it is possible to run a backend app in virtually every programming language that offers a server and a routing library, and if your provider does not support it directly, you can probably still run it via Docker containers.
To improve your digital presence, you need a solid backend that supports all your operations. And backend developers today have more deployment options than ever, so they can choose the programming language/cloud provider that best suits their needs. For example, if you need scalability and asynchronous operations, you should probably look at NodeJS. Or if you need threading support and performance, then check out Golang. PHP may still fulfill your needs, but at least you have more than one option to consider.
In other areas, APIs have also become more popular. Payment gateways, maps, search services, and facial recognition—all have already been implemented by different actors that offer them in the form of web services or APIs. If your product requires specialized operations, you should first check if there are any third-party solutions available. Time to market is important for digital, so don’t spend time reinventing the wheel. Get integrated!
At the database level, there are also many new engines to consider when modeling services for your market. Traditionally, SQL databases like MySQL or Postgres have been the default option, but today you can also consider engines like MongoDB, Neo4j, or Cassandra. Don’t be afraid to use them; not everything fits in rows and columns.
Let’s consider this example: If you want to model a Knowledge Graph out of an editorial website (like mapping relationships between articles, authors, and topics), do you think that an SQL database would help? Actually, it might, but it would be easier if you used a graph engine-based database. If supporting your clients’ needs means that an SQL database is not enough, then move forward with a NoSQL. Many companies have already done this.
Architectures and Infrastructure
Could you have imagined yourself deploying a microservice architecture on shared Linux hosting 20 years ago? Probably not. Because of today’s cloud-provider solutions, we can model applications in a set of small and specialized services, frequently in the form of containerization or virtual machines, so you don’t have to be stuck with monolithics by default.
Even more, if your business logic allows it, you could have an entire backend using a serverless solution. Many companies react to new client features by prototyping with serverless solutions and then moving the final implementation to the core application once they are validated. There are many ways available to deploy different architectures in the cloud or on-premises. You can still use monolithics if this fits, but again, you now have more options to consider.
What’s more important, shared hosting today requires a different definition. With all the current cloud service offerings, shared hosting has to be more specialized, and it really should guarantee isolation between accounts and flexibility for running different stacks. Take a look, for instance, at Media Temple hosting solutions to get an idea of what hosting solutions should be like.
Achieving digital transformation is a demanding task that requires a consensus among different disciplines so that companies can quickly adjust to new client expectations. Digital transformation means a better and improved digital presence. And of course, digital presence includes tech implementations that can cover anything from UX to infrastructure.
Elevate your user-centric digital presence. Contact Media Temple today.