From simple machines to smartphones, it’s no secret that technology is becoming increasingly necessary in our everyday lives. Websites are a key component of any business, and every website or app that we come across is created by a web developer.
Even the tools that allow non-developers to design easy websites (like WordPress or Wix, those drag-and-drop systems much loved by anyone who can’t find their way around a line of HTML) are created by web developers. So as you can imagine, the need for web developers is high.
But if you want to enter this growing job market and put your CSS skills to use, you’ll need to meet a set of standards. Web development is no different than any other industry, in the sense that it has a set of tried-and-true standards that software engineers swear by. To save you some time and potential programming gaffes, we’ve compiled a list of 7 of the best practices for you to follow if you want to excel in the industry.
What Does A Web Developer Do?
Web development is the process of building, developing, and maintaining websites and applications for the internet or an intranet (a private network). It ranges from creating simple, static, plain-text pages to complex social media applications.
Similarly, e-commerce apps, e-business apps, Content Management Systems (CMS), and other similar tools that work via the internet, are created by web developers. Web development is all about the codes and programs that lead to a functional website. Web development can sometimes be confused with web design, but they’re not the same thing. Although, web developers must be aware of design principles to excel in their role.
Web developers use multiple coding languages for programming. No matter what, a web developer must be aware of the best practices and industry standards. To shed light on what these best practices are, and how they can transform you into a better, more efficient web developer, we've curated a (non-exhaustive) list of best practices for you.
What Are Best Practices?
Best practices are an industry-accepted set of guidelines. They represent the most efficient or sensible course of action. These practices standardize the most effective way to achieve a desired outcome. They are usually laid down by either external, regulatory authorities, or they can be established internally by an organization’s management.
In any industrial or business set-up, best practices are composed of particular methodologies, processes, or techniques. If a company adopts the best practice guidelines, they are likely to meet fewer complications or barriers moving forward. The concept of best practices is used extensively in different fields such as software engineering, project management, or even human resource management.
Regardless if you’re a web developer or a business owner who wants to make sure their website is hitting a high standard, to increase the odds of smooth sailing throughout the web development process, we recommend you follow the steps outlined below.
Best Practices in Web Development
Imagine you have to build a race car. Would you prefer starting with a bare sheet of metal? Or would it be easier if you started with an existing frame that you could cut and weld to your liking? You’d likely choose the latter. Instead of starting from ground zero, having a framework in web development provides you with a structure to build on.
A framework helps new developers reduce unnecessary errors and build quality applications. Because of the rather minimalistic work to be done at the start, frameworks help save a considerable amount of time. And that means a faster turnaround time for your project.
Start By Planning
Some developers jump right into coding without a planned approach. This can lead them to rewrite the code again and again. Unfortunately, rewriting code wastes valuable time. The first step of a project should be to identify the overall goal. Simplifying the user-interface of an e-commerce app or customizing a retail website are both examples of project goals.
Once the overall goal has been defined, the next step is to plan out how you are going to reach that goal. Planning helps save time and effort in the long run. Development should be significant and precise, and a plan will highlight the relevant aspects and features of a project to focus on.
It may feel like you’re wasting time that could be used to build projects on the planning stages. But, it’s quite the contrary. Planning will make a project organized, minimize the space for errors, and allow you to stay focused without questioning the next step. So, it actually saves you a lot of time.
Stick To The Standards
Creativity can often help developers devise unique solutions for tricky problems. But deviating too far from industry norms often results in failure. Simply put, there are some industry norms that just work, and some that don’t.
Web development is no exception to this concept. Some industry norms for web development are as follows:
- The navigation map should be the same for all pages of your website. It makes your website more uniform and coherent.
- There is an ‘ideal’ position for every feature, particularly on the homepage. While the company logo should be at the top-left corner of the homepage, contact information, organizational details, and registration options should be towards the top-right.
- The size of the hyperlinks should be appropriate and easily visible to the user.
Code Smarter, Not Longer
Every line of code that you write should fulfill a necessary and particular purpose. Avoid writing anything too complex that could make your code hard to understand and edit in the future. This is particularly important while working in a team, since your team members will often proof read or change each other’s work.
Writing code without a defined purpose invites bugs into your program. Each line of code should provide an important feature to a webpage or solve a specific problem. Also, you should realize the value of code commenting: a practice of inserting short, single-line notes throughout your code. These notes allow you to easily understand why a code snippet works in a particular way or what is it intended for.
Sprint, Don’t Leap
Website development is a rigorous process of improvement, and it thrives on incremental updates rather than implementing huge features at once. Whether it’s a minor change in fonts or introducing a new feature, incremental updates create fewer errors and bugs than full updates do.
The trick is to maintain a balance between today’s demand and future innovation. The user-interface created today will naturally become outdated a few months or years down the line. Therefore, it’s imperative to design and develop the backend accordingly. This makes sure that the User Interface (UI) can be modified in the future without doing a complete overhaul.
Establish multi-device compatibility
Most users visit websites from more than one device. In fact, the majority of your site visitors will likely come from a mobile device. Devices such as smartphones, laptops, and tablets have different screen resolutions as well as form factors. To ensure a quality user experience, it’s important to make sure your data is displayed correctly across all devices.
This is particularly important for the primary website functions as well as its control elements. The adaptive design of your website is crucial if you want to expand your user base.
Link Your Social Media Channels
Social media is the most powerful branding tool in the modern world. It’s indispensable for any online business. Whether a retail company or a food delivery service, a company’s existence on social media helps with its own personalized branding.
Historically, a corporate image would take years to build through conventional media platforms such as television and print. Social media helps your business build your own unique corporate image quickly. Social media can expedite your services, increase your customer base, and most importantly, highlight your presence in the market.
As you can see, it’s important to integrate your social media links seamlessly across all platforms. Make the links and witness your company’s image rise to a whole new level!
Build A Website That Serves Your Business Goals
Following these web development practices will help you increase your client-base and improve the online presence of your business. If you’re a new web developer, make sure that you stick to these standards for all of your projects.
Or, if you’re someone who simply wants to make sure your company’s website is up to high standards, consider if it meets these requirements. If it doesn’t, you may want to make some necessary changes sooner than later. Whether your website is new or a couple of years old, what really matters is how you develop it to help your business achieve its goals.
If you’re interested in learning more about web development, Thinkful’s team of web development experts is here to help. You can also learn more valuable tips and tricks to help you master web development from Thinkful’s blog.
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