10 Insights You Need to Know About Website Development
Top-notch website development starts with attention to detail and persistence to improve. Whether you are looking to outsource website development for the first time or rework an existing project, there are well-established best practices you can follow to ensure your platform will be as good as possible. Following these practices can help reduce website development costs by optimising development time and help establish a website development requirements checklist for your business. Additionally, the following tips can help you establish what to look for in a website developer.
The Website Development Lifecycle is an Ongoing Process
If you go into website development expecting the process to involve hiring developers once, shipping a finished project, and never needing to work with developers again, you're going to be very disappointed. Website development is not a "once and done" project: it's an ongoing process. However, the good news is beyond the initial launch or redesign, the maintenance workload tends to get easier. Your business needs to maintain the site as long as it's in use. Your website development expenses budget should include room for ongoing support and development to handle things like site optimisation, removing unnecessary content, fixing broken pages, keeping up with SEO algorithm changes, and fine-tuning the design to keep up with web design trends. The website development lifecycle is an endless race, but you don't need to sprint the entire time.
Responsive Website Design Streamlines Development
In its simplest terms, responsive website design leverages programming techniques to adjust a singular website for all possible devices and screen sizes. Responsive website design exists in contrast to developing individual sites for desktop, tablet, and mobile devices. The single site method helps bring down the average cost of website development because it streamlines workflow and reduces how much code website developers need to maintain. Being platform and screen-size agnostic means you can focus all your programming work on one site infrastructure. It’s easier to develop a single site that works for all devices than multiple sites that are “best guesses.” Additionally, having a single code base to work with makes it easier to hunt down code that needs to be changed.
Load Times are Important
While widespread broadband adoption has greatly improved the online experience for users, not all connections and devices are able to provide quick access to content with a large data footprint. In particular, mobile devices still have issues with loading content-heavy websites in a reasonable time which can lead potential customers to abandon your site while it's loading. Remember, poor load times can be a problem on any device. One of the biggest challenges facing developers with load times concerns managing content from creators who fill a page with excessive amounts of content. If you're looking at improving load times, start cutting unnecessary scripts, minimising how many data requests a page makes, optimising images for data-efficient display, minifying code where applicable, and cutting unnecessary widgets. Using "Lazyload" for images, in which the images do not load until they are displayed on the screen, will significantly reduce page data footprints even when content creators go overboard.
Develop SEO for People, not Machines
Relevant, quality content drives more clicks than any programming trick could ever hope to. Search engines are designed to emulate and follow human behavior when determining results page priority. Therefore, your role as a developer in SEO means making it easy for search engines to find and process content. Developers should make sure all pages that should be indexed are easily accessible through links. Do not invest in programming tricks to mislead search engine crawlers: instead, use straight-forward structure. The one thing search engines heavily utilise that people don’t is the sitemap, so it's the developer's job to make sure it works while Google, Bing, and Yahoo can find it. Also, pay attention to developing a canonical links algorithm for duplicate pages if your CMS doesn’t automatically handle that.
Leverage a CMS
Popular Content Management Systems like WordPress make a developer's life much easier. A CMS takes the burden of creating content, managing content, and building a content database system away from the developer. A CMS also provides a solid foundation to build your site upon. Using a pre-made CMS will significantly reduce website development expenses.
Document Your Code
Quality code documentation that follows established standards is an upfront investment that will save you a lot of time and frustration in the future. Many developers may have their hands in a project over its lifetime, so documenting code makes the transition much easier. Additionally, developers may revisit code years after they wrote it, so documentation will be extremely helpful in making sense of old code.
Rewrite Overcomplicated Code
Experienced developers tend to abandon and rewrite code that isn’t working out more quickly than their less experienced counterparts. If your website documentation explaining how a code segment works is longer than the actual code, the code likely could be rewritten to operate more efficiently and be easier to read. Questions about rewriting and revising code can help a business determine what to look for in a website developer.
Be Careful with Third-Party Content
As a developer, third-party content can make your job far more complicated because it shifts control away from your platform. If possible, develop tools that streamline using third-party content to prevent users from submitting detrimental content. Third-party content can be particularly bad for load times and site performance, so use it wisely and infrequently.
Going HTTPS is not like flipping a Switch
Switching a website from HTTP to Secure HTTP, or HTTPS, is actually a very development-involved process. HTTPS encrypts all data between the user and the website, which better protects user data. In addition to enabling the secure delivery certificate, developers need to update the site code to redirect any information calls including pages, images, and scripts to HTTPS. Web browsers won’t register a site as fully HTTPS compliant if any content comes through on the site in HTTP, which can be difficult to police with third-party content, user-created content, and advertisements. Developers can also implement adjustments to help users avoid adding non-HTTPS compliant content. However, particularly with third-party content, it might be impossible to be fully https compliant.
Optimise Metadata for Social Media
Like search engines, social media is a major website traffic driver. Unlike search engines, social media platforms often require non-standard metadata, or information about a given webpage for machine use, to determine how to display links to content. Both Facebook and Twitter use unique tagging systems that build upon standard metadata tags. While the information has a substantial crossover with existing metadata, the platforms still require additional information.
Poor website development practices will make managing your platform more difficult and expensive than it needs to be. Knowing what to look for in a website development in Australia partner for your business can make all the difference in the final product. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you develop an optimised website platform.
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You have poured time, money and sweat into creating the perfect website, the flagship of your business. Time to sit back, put your feet up and let the good times roll, right?
Absolutely not. You are going to want to get to know your web developer quite well over the years because you want to keep your website as up-to-date, not to mention working and as functional, as possible.
Post-Launch Web Development Tasks:
Website Lifecycle is Ongoing
Obviously after the launch of your site website development requirements do slow down. However making sure your website is always working as well as it should have does require some maintenance. The site must be optimised at all times, old and redundant content needs to be removed, broken links must be fixed quickly and SEO algorithm changes must be adjusted for on site.
Technology and trends are changing so quickly these days that cutting edge innovation on a site can almost seem obsolete in a couple of short years. You will want a good web developer who is across these changes who can keep your site at forefront of now. You do not want a site that looks dated and performs poorly just a couple of years after you invest in it. Change is good and your site can be kept fresh and fluid through good web development.
Hopefully you want your business to grow steadily over the years and eventually you are going to have to scale operations. If an eCommerce site you may need to add a host of new products, you may have to add more options for payment, you may just be getting more traffic, fingers crossed, than your launch site could handle. You need a good web developer who can come in and add functionality and increase stability.
You will always have a need to add more content and functionality to your site. With the importance of SEO now unique content is paramount and you should be adding blog posts and thought leadership pieces regularly. Your web developer will be able to help you add what you need but even better they should have set up a site where you can bring much of this new content creation and website upload in-house. There are a number of content management system (CMS) platforms, such as WordPress and Joomla, that you can take over yourself once your development team has launched your site on them. It is imperative you keep your content refreshed on site. Nothing screams out of touch and irrelevant like outdated content.
At Agile we will happily hand over your site once it is launched but we are also in a great position, knowing everything about your build, to keep supporting you over the journey.
We are on hand to host and provide support for the long haul and we can help keep your site as fresh and functional as the day it was launched.