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The importance of flexibility in software development

The importance of flexibility in software development

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Flexibility in software development is more than a buzzword. In fact, it’s a critical approach to digital transformation that many enterprise businesses are harnessing for the good of their brand, customers and end-users.

What does a flexible approach to software development look like? Here we’ll explore the tenets of flexibility in software development, and discuss why and how to implement this approach.

What does flexibility in software development mean?

When we talk about flexibility, we’re referring to how adaptable a digital product or service is.

  • How easily can its components be changed?
  • Can it integrate with third-party platforms with ease?
  • Does it support new technologies and devices?
  • Will it be easy to add, edit and remove features if users’ needs change?
  • Is the data stored in the Cloud so it can be retrieved from anywhere?

The digital landscape is an ever-changing beast. It’s no longer just the responsibility or opportunity of small startups to work nimbly and build flexible applications that evolve and change alongside consumers’ changing habits. These days even large enterprise organisations need to create their digital services with flexibility in mind.

APIs - a cornerstone of flexibility

An application programming interface (API) is like an imaginary thread that connects two unrelated systems to each other. APIs are a key factor in driving flexibility in software development.

For a start, APIs are not a complicated development approach. Most developers have experience in writing or using APIs. Many APIs are open source, meaning they can be accessed by other developers outside of the organisation that built them. This presents a huge opportunity for knowledge sharing, innovation and creativity.

APIs are an economical way to connect systems, because they allow you to plug in any features you want, without having to build them yourself.

Going headless

Consumers expect to read your content seamlessly, anywhere they please. As new devices and operating systems emerge, they’ll expect to see your content beautifully presented on those too.

Traditional content management systems are usually limited to a single front-end presentation layer. For example, a CMS like WordPress allows content creators to add pages and posts to a website. If they want to add content to a mobile app or smart device, they’ll need to use different content management systems for each.

This isn’t particularly economical and doesn’t offer the best experience to the end-user. Luckily, there’s a solution, and it involves going ‘headless’.

A headless CMS is a flexible alternative to the traditional CMS, which allows businesses to build future-proofed content strategies. The ‘headless’ aspect refers to the fact that the front-end layer is completely agnostic to the back-end. In other words, the content sits in a Cloud-based repository and can be accessed by any platform via an API.

It requires some content planning upfront, but once you’ve set up your plan, you can retrieve your content and showcase it beautifully on any front-end, from websites and apps to Alexa and smart TVs. It’s a truly flexible solution for now and the future.

Systems integrations

Flexibility is all very well when you’re creating brand new, shiny pieces of tech, but what about legacy systems and existing architecture? You can certainly apply flexibility to software development for existing systems too.

At Digital Detox, we’re experienced in systems integrations using all frameworks, though we specialise in Javascript. We understand many of the common constraints associated with legacy systems and how to overcome any hurdles they present. Currently, we are exploring integrations that lean on new and emerging technologies as they become available.

APIs are a key enabler to successful and flexible systems integrations. The world of AI and web AR are providing some exciting opportunities for API integration. We’ve explored Microsoft cognitive services for multiple clients who need a simple way of analysing and organising large databases.

Flexibility for the future

Many enterprise businesses would usually plan their software development roadmap for the next year, five years and even ten years ahead. Whilst it may seem like a low-risk option to plan for the distant future, today’s landscape changes at lightning speed, and you need to keep up.

As a result, it’s important to implement flexibility in software development to de-risk and future-proof your development strategy. As consumers’ needs change, you’ll be able to react to them swiftly. Sometimes this means changing out existing features, other times it may mean building entirely new ones.

If you develop adaptable digital solutions that reuse components where possible, store data in the cloud, utilise APIs and embrace a headless CMS, you’ll set up your business for the long-term.

It’s not only achievable to move to a flexible approach for your development strategy, it’s a necessity.

How we can help

We are a human-led digital design and development agency founded on principles of flexible, agile software development. With sustainability at our core, it’s our goal to help clients achieve their goals in an efficient, economical and end-user focused way.

Get in touch to discuss your goals and find out how we can help you achieve them.