It is September 24th, 2020, 9.12 pm as I finish this article, we are still in the middle of a pandemic which I first spoke about here on 23rd March and the world is still an ever-evolving shitshow. 2020, am I right?
To be honest, I have struggled to write anything in the past 2 months because I simply have not had the time. It has been the busiest work period I have ever experienced in my 8+ years of Avalanche, I have just had long-awaited knee surgery and as I am currently on a self-imposed nutrition plan to help my recovery from said surgery, my attention to writing has suffered. That is what I told myself anyway.
Truth is, it simply fell down my list of priorities and I got a little lazy. I let myself off the hook as my inner monologue told me I do not have time for the blog as I powered up my PlayStation. For those new here, I tend to talk to myself about most things as I spend a lot of time alone, it is not weird. None of the people in my head think so anyway.
Thankfully, repeated viewing and what has since redeveloped into an obsession with Hamilton and the American Revolution thanks to Disney+ has led to me to ask what would Alexander Hamilton do if he was me right now? True to his character, I began writing like I am running out of time and resolved to write & publish this in an hour. I also resolved to write something at least once a month for the rest of the year.
As I mentioned above, it is a great time to be the people who are creating websites, if you are a developer at the moment and you are not busy, it is probably time to find a new career path, that is how much the demand has exploded.
At Avalanche, we have taken on two new developers (Hi Conor & Tommy!) which is always exciting to bring fresh ideas and a different way of doing things. In my experience, good developers always shamelessly steal ideas & tips from each other, so I am looking forward to working & learning from the two new lads and hopefully improve their overall design skills by bringing them up to the Avalanche standard.
I have always found Irish business as a whole tends to be reactive, tackling problems/opportunities after the fact, the "yera, be grand" approach, so big undertakings like an eCommerce site that would otherwise be postponed until well after the fact have now become a priority as businesses scramble to stay afloat never mind get ahead.
Web design, in general, is seeing a substantial increase in demand during this time as the population is largely stuck at home. Many people are seeing this as the perfect time to tackle a new website or redesign an existing site. People with existing businesses are also seeing this as a time to pursue eCommerce, and new shops are opening up regularly as a way to widen revenue streams during this difficult period.
At Avalanche we are lucky, we are a well-established firm over the last number of years so the pandemic has actually turned out to be a good thing for us, there has been a huge demand for eCommerce experts in the last 7 months and thankfully, we are pretty good at taking both established "traditional" businesses or those dipping their toe into business for the first time all the way through to selling their items or services online.
Most of the time, it is not that complicated, to be honest, we have the process down at this point, so besides some specialised coding where needed, we run through it pretty easily but it can be scary for people nonetheless when they are putting a lot of eggs in the eCommerce basket because fully scaled solutions are not cheap and they are quickly becoming the difference between success and failure in business. You become responsible for these people's livelihood, so it is a big responsibility, one we undertake with the utmost respect, but it also presents a unique opportunity. We can push design boundaries more than ever before as people yearn to stand out from the ever-increasing crowd. I have never been more excited about our work!
Covid-19 is estimated to have bumped up internet use by a massive 70%, and this really cannot be ignored for those who need to find new lines of revenue. Of course, not every business has an applicable online aspect and I feel for those such as local pubs and many other rural-based businesses that have simply been sitting on their hands for 6 months. Outside the financial hit, the mental toll of the stress & not being legally allowed to work must be heavy. There is a real possibility that some have closed their doors for the last time, with the ramifications being felt for generations to come.
One of my concerns when it comes to COVID that seems to be going unnoticed is what happens to start-ups during this time?
Yes, there are many grants being offered for established businesses but what about those who have just started and do not qualify for the help available from the different government agencies? Those who started a business in February after months and in many cases, years of research and hard work. I hope that these start-ups can rise to these hard times and do not throw in their lot and chalk it down as a casualty of the pandemic. These are the businesses that are young, scrappy, and hungry so the majority are going to have a strong online presence, I hope they can ride it out and they are not forgotten by our governmental initiatives. I hope they do no throw away their shot.
Even before the pandemic, the economy was evolving. The add-to-cart age has been smothering traditional businesses for a while now, and Covid-19 is possibly the catalyst that will ratify this virtually overnight. Of course, the world is wide enough for both but under quarantine, many conveniences have become essential, and many struggling services have taken off, even those who were not struggling are planning for a COVID led future.
I read earlier today that Dunnes Stores are making a huge investment in their online/home delivery service, proof that those who adapt to the pandemic will thrive. An aggressive approach but one that will no doubt pay dividends in the coming weeks/months. Ahead of flu season, there is a very real possibility that a full lockdown will happen in Ireland again with Donegal moved up to Level 3 this evening. You can be sure that there will be other counties to follow suit.
This does not truly out way the devastating impact on our economy and way of life, but for many businesses, it can perhaps be a silver lining, luckily, Avalanche falls into that category as I mentioned above. That silver lining may shine the brightest when it comes to skilled web design. With a newly evolving workplace that has been transitioning rapidly from storefront to home office, new requirements for innovative UI/UX solutions have appeared.
This combined with the need to make it even easier for a new age of customers means that there has never been a better time to be a developer. The definition of desirable and successful user experience has changed overnight, and web design will be in increasingly high demand to satisfy the needs of this quickly changing landscape.
However long the COVID-19 pandemic lasts, it is clear that many businesses will need to adjust to a new reality in which millions of people are self-isolating & working from home. As long as brick-and-mortar businesses remain closed, businesses will need to rely on eCommerce to an even higher degree. Good news for the people who create the solutions.
We have had the good grace to not really be affected negatively by COVID yet, our industry is one of the few to thrive in this horrendous year. I hope that more can say the same before the end of the year is out. This combined with the upcoming PS5 release probably makes me the happiest nerd in the land and I hope, immune to the threat of another lockdown.
I have the honour to be, your obedient servant.
(Kudos if you picked up all the Hamilton references.)