Update: Since this post was published I have written up these notes in more detail on the White.net website.
I overheard a conversation between two web people a while ago.
One (a web developer) was explaining a tricky situation.
A client had called with news that a button on their website had broken.
The client wanted it fixed.
Elaborating further, the client explained that they had not ‘touched’ the website in the entire time (1 year) that it had been live.
Therefore it was not their fault it had broken.
The developer then explained that they too had not touched the website in that time period – and neither had anybody else.
This leaves two questions:
- Why was the button on the website broken?
- Whose fault was it that it had broken?
The answer would prove important because it would be the difference between the developer fixing it for free or the client having to pay to have the work carried out.
So how does something change on a website that hasn’t been touched?
The website hasn’t changed at all.
The code has stayed exactly the same as the day it went live.
It has remained in a constant state.
But the rest of the world hasn’t.
In the space of a year a lot has changed.
Including web browsers.
Since January 2012 Google has launched somewhere in the region of 12 new versions of Chrome.
Even Internet Explorer has had a Windows 8 flavoured overhaul.
So the website hasn’t changed at all.
But everything else has.
The website that worked on Chrome 17, or Firefox 10 or Internet Explorer 9 doesn’t necessarily work on their modern day equivalents.
A website can only be built to the standards of the day it goes live.
So who’s fault is it that the button broke?
The answer is no-one.
The website just stood still for too long.
When everything around you is moving forwards, standing still is as good as moving backwards.