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6 Reasons Why Your Frontend Maintenance Costs So Much

Irrespective of how much experience you have with software development, you are probably aware that creating an app costs time and money. Not so many people, though, realise that maintenance and further development after an app is deployed can sometimes be quite expensive too. It is not uncommon to see a gradual decrease in performance of your development team over time, especially after they meet the first or second deadline.

If you have no technical background, than probably you will always be surprised that changing the position of an element or adding a new modal can take so much time. Especially, when it took only a moment a few months ago! Have you ever wondered what makes it so hard? We’ve put together the most popular reasons for the dropping productivity and increasing costs of frontend maintenance.

No Responsive Web Design or Mobile-first Approach

Even if it is rare today, there are still a lot of apps that don’t employ Responsive Web Design at all. When it comes to mobile, introducing good mobile designs after a page has shipped can take much more time than you think. It will definitely be more than if you’d focused on mobile from the very start. Developers will be limited by the backlog caused by the months of work without RWD. This can often mean a lot of refactoring and retouching of the parts of the app that were not planned to change.

A mobile first approach is perfect for structuring the CSS in your web app. If all the work is focused around mobile-first, it’s much easier to introduce tweaks and make sense of code that you have not seen for months.

No Structured JavaScript

There are a lot of people who claim that world was a better place when there were no JavaScript frameworks. I don’t agree, though. I have personally been in a situation when I joined an Ember project and immediately knew where all the things belonged. I could work on the app from day one. I have also seen apps where the JavaScript was written without any structure and with no support from well-maintained and mature frameworks. This is a very fast approach for reaching your MVP, but it will ultimately fail, and you will need to pay the technical debt. I would always recommend using at least some kind of a view layer, like Glimmer or React.

Poor Quality Code

If you take a look at code, you won’t be able to estimate quickly how good the project is. But you can immediately see if there is any consistency over the repository. Are all the files structured identically? Are the indents consistent? What about semicolons? I know it might sound silly for a non-technical person, but the quality of your code is a very good indicator of the project’s status. If it’s in bad shape, the developers have most likely cut corners and didn’t focus on delivering the best possible quality. This means that there probably are a lot of bugs, even if haven’t found them yet.

No Automatic Build Process and Deployment

This is also a common sign of poor quality. The build and deployment are the last steps before your app goes live. If they are not prepared in a proper, error-proof way, it might be expensive to avoid bugs and stay confident in the future.

No Tests

Automatic tests are the essential ingredient of refactoring and maintenance. Any change you introduce can break something in your app, and automatic tests will let your developers stay on top of it and focus on improving and adding features instead of being constantly afraid that they break something. Fewer bugs, fewer crashes and better code quality are the benefits of automatic testing that will substantially decrease maintenance costs.

No Readme

Readme is one of the key files on your project – you will need every time a new developer joins the team. Don’t underestimate the power of the good old readme. A readme makes clear what the requirements for the app are, how to use it, build it and eventually deploy it. If you don’t keep it updated from the very beginning, it can make your dev team spend hours on tackling problems somebody already solved earlier.

Summary

There are a few of reasons why the maintenance of your app might be expensive, and you can actually prevent most of them from happening. Very often, it’s a matter of implementing efficient processes from the very beginning. The next thing is to make sure your team delivers only top-quality code, regardless of how much time is left until the deadline. Obviously, we could name a host of other reasons, but having the above bases covered will help you solve the majority of issues.

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