During my last semester as a college student in 2005, I sat down with the partners and developers at Sephone to talk about the kind of work we wanted to do. We talked about giving people control of their own websites – a pretty novel concept back then, when WordPress wasn’t yet a common name in the business world and the only real option for digital communication was an email or instant message.
Over the past twelve years, we at Sephone, have built three versions of our own content management systems, a new e-commerce engine, secure file sharing and storage platforms, a nationwide event directory, and countless custom applications for businesses of all kinds. A lot has changed since those first days of 2005, but three main threads stand out as the biggest shifts in how we use our digital tools.
Apps, apps, apps
It’s incredible to think that the concept of widely-distributed third-party mobile applications didn’t really exist before 2008. Today my phone is filled with dozens of applications from developers around the world, all installed with a tap of my finger. It’s especially remarkable considering that the top phones for my first year at Sephone were the Motorola Razr and some options from Palm. Today’s apps can make use of everything from the camera to nearby location-specific beacons.
(I’ve also learned that developing mobile apps is a lot of fun.)
The rise of social media
A few months before that first Sephone meeting on Main Street, I signed up for an interesting site for college students called Facebook (actually, thefacebook). Though sites like Friendster and MySpace were already in the wild, there’s a strong argument that Facebook was the one to ignite the explosion in social media.
Today, social media is absolutely pervasive, and the ability to share content is one of the most important factors in how you build and code a site. Whether you want your content on Twitter or Pinterest, how you get your content out there is the key to getting people to visit your site.
The web everywhere
I’d say the biggest change to the digital world is probably the subtlest one: the web is everywhere. Sites show up in flatscreen displays all around the world, Snapcodes let you add friends by pointing your phone at a graphic, and apps let you see when the next bus or train equipped with GPS will arrive.
If there’s a single lesson I’ve learned in the last dozen years, it’s that technology will continue to evolve and expand – and it gets more exciting every day.