When Heady evaluates a given tech or tool — a programming language, progressive web apps, marketing tools — we start by asking lots of questions about how it might or might not solve a given business objective.
As anyone who has ever tried to research a technology by typing its name into Google knows, some questions are more helpful than others. Basic search results tend to confirm our assumptions about a given solution rather than challenge them or provide alternatives.
The better approach is to ask questions that are relevant to your business need. Are you looking to increase conversion rates? Create a system that can be
easily updated and tweaked — or one that is stable for years to come? The more specific the better.
Specifics aside, there are seven questions that Heady — and our partners — return to over and over when we evaluate new technologies. They help us know whether a given solution is growing and evolving, so it will have a longer shelf life.
Think of these not as a comprehensive list, but as inspiration for designing your own questions and framework for evaluating technology.
To mitigate risks, Heady generally recommends investing in tech which has been actively developed for at least two years.
Generally when a particular framework is developed by a larger company — such as Facebook, Google, or Microsoft — it is more likely to be stable. This is because these companies have themselves used their frameworks in production for quite a long time, and are most likely investing in them. This will mean common issues were already faced and fixed by these companies. This is not an ultimate indicator, but a factor.
An important factor to consider is how frequently a technology releases updates. Is there a planned cycle? Every quarter? Biannualy?
Additionally, consider how responsive a technology owner is when releasing updates. Ideally, they would be considering backward compatibility for existing users of the framework when working on adding new features.
Twitter and Hackernews, meanwhile, are useful resources in evaluating how a technology’s public community responds to releases, although reviews often skew negative.
When considering a technology, we generally ask questions about its size. How many individuals are teaching courses online about the topic? How many big tech conferences are organized around the world which cover the topic? A high number signals demand and growth.
How many questions do you see when you search relevant tags on Stackoverflow? More than or close to 50–80K is a good indication of an actively growing development community.
How many third party packages are being developed by the community for a particular framework? More than 5–10K packages contributed is a good indication of involvement of its community in open source. The higher the number, the likelier it is that solutions for common problems exist, so you do not need to dedicate time to creating things from scratch.
You may choose to train in-house, outsource, or hire. You do not need to answer this right away, but searching for talent on different platforms can give you a sense of the talent pool should you decide to augment or change your team.
Thinking about how and where you can start implementing a given technology helps break the solution into something manageable and sets natural priorities for your departments.
Thinking about a technology solution in a concrete way helps with identifying needs, and sets implementation up for success. It is important to understand if a department does not feel confident with their current resources. Addressing that early can make all the difference between adoption and falling flat.