THE JOURNAL: Building Websites Is Easy…Right!?

If you type the words ‘easy website’ into Google, there is one word that regularly follows: free.

Now don’t get us wrong, sites like Wix and Squarespace certainly serve a purpose and have come such a long way in terms of design and what you can actually DO with a build-your-own-website, yet it’s undoubtable that if you’ve got a real vision and strategy for your site and what you want it to do for you (and are unwilling to compromise on it’s look, feel and usability) then bespoke design and development is the only way to go.

Don’t run away – we understand that as soon as the word ‘bespoke’ comes into play, the price tag inevitably grows and people start to utter ‘is it really worth it!?’ Well, we’re here to tell you that the answer is a resounding, unequivocal, YES!

 

See, generally there’s a lot more that goes into designing and developing a website than people first think; a lot of intricate moving parts that web designers and developers, by nature, are able to juggle on the daily. None of this is EASY though. Below we’ve listed a few elements of the web design and development process that you may not have thought factored in to the cost, and ultimately shows that it really is worth the price tag:

 

We have to remain human and communicate effectively

This sounds like a really simple thing but let us paint a picture for you: imagine writing a really complex and intricate story; it’s really important that all your characters make sense, the story-line is consistent and continuous, each characters stories vary slightly but they have to weave together to form something whole and engaging. You’re really getting into the flow…and then you’re interrupted in order to urgently work on another story you’ve just finished. Welcome to the life of a web developer; constantly juggling numerous in-depth projects that each take epic amounts of concentration, but still having to function like a human being and be open, friendly, personable and helpful with clients.

 

 

We have to use arithmetic and algebra

Just as designers inherently use the Golden Ratio to instil a sense of balance, harmony and coherence into their designs, web developers and programmers regularly have to work with basic arithmetic, algebra, percentages and ratios in order to problem solve and build bespoke web functions and aid with CSS.

 

 

We have to keep up with new technologies

“Wow, technology moves really slowly – I can’t remember the last time my browser or OS had an update”…said NO ONE EVER! To ensure that websites work on all platforms, with all browsers, on all systems and at all sizes, including mobile, web developers need to have a firm grasp on what’s happening in terms of web, digital and general technological updates, and these things change daily! This also works the other way round; it’s important to keep in mind older technologies and browsers that may not run the latest tech stacks well, just in case a client demands running Internet Explorer 6 on a clapped-out £250 PC.

 

 

We have to understand human psychology and behaviours

Observing and analysing why people use/hold/touch things in specific ways is a real key to great web design and development. Being able to absorb UI/UX trends and experiment with what works and what doesn’t can make the difference between a website that functions exactly as you want it to, to a digital disaster. This isn’t exclusive to the frontend of the website either; the layout and accessibility of the backend of the website or CMS (Content Management System) is just as vital too – after all, if your website takes you hours to update because you can’t find anything, and ultimately slows your productivity, it’s certainly not working for you!

 

 

We have to magically pull quick fixes out of our a*ses

Let’s put it this way: imagine you’ve sprung a leak somewhere inside your house. There is water running everywhere and you’re VERY AWARE that your furniture is getting ruined, but you know that you’re probably going to have spend hours pulling up floorboards or plasterboard in order to find the root of the issue. Time is ticking and the pressure is on. Turning off the water will only rectify the problem in the short term – what do you do?

 

When something goes wrong with a website, it’s not always clear what exactly has gone wrong and there isn’t always a quick fix. All the same, developers are expected to be able to FIX ANYTHING at the drop of a hat and sometimes it can take hours of investigation to replicate an issue or bug and subsequently fix it. Sometimes, the problem is out of their hands completely (we’re looking at you third party web hosts!) but believe us when we say, we feel the stress anyway!

 

 

We have to be good at problem-solving and risk analysis

A web developers job isn’t just to build a website but to understand your requirements and then consider various solutions, eventually choosing the best fitting for each case e.g. could it run in WordPress or would something bespoke be better? Can we risk using a third-party plug-in for this? Would a plug-in provide the exact solution and reduce development time, therefore freeing up some budget?

 

 

We have to keep up with maintenance   

Think you can launch a website and then its job done? Errrrrr, nope! Those babies take constant upkeep, maintenance, love and care, much like a small furry pet…or a beloved pot plant. This doesn’t just involve updating content, copy and images, but is due to the fact that the web changes constantly, including plug-ins and APIs, so often we spend a lot of time redoing work we’ve already done in order to keep things running smoothly.

 

 

We have to have time & patience

Web development takes a lot of time, iterations, testing, trial and error and when you just think you might be done, something is likely changed, removed or added. Good web design and development is born from a constant back and forth process between us and our clients, and the best websites we produce are those that have been collaboratively built from day one – this does take time though!

 

 

We have to know about servers, safety and security

Data encryption, SSLs, HTTPS, CAPTCHAs, Cookies…we could go on! There is A LOT that goes into keeping a website hosted, safe, secure and functioning and many people who own websites just aren’t aware of how at risk they are if someone isn’t keeping an eye on things.

 


 

And for those of you that read a few of those paragraphs and didn’t know what the hell an SSL or UI/UX is, here’s a handy glossary for you.

 

  • SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is the standard security technology for establishing an encrypted link between a web server and a browser.
  • UI stands for user interface and is the series of screens, pages, and visual elements, such as buttons and icons, that you use to interact with a device.
  • UX (User experience) is the internal experience that a person has as they interact with every aspect of a company’s products and services.
  • Plug-in – A plug-in is a software component that adds a specific feature to an existing computer program.
  • API ( or Application Programming Interface) is set of functions and procedures that allow the creation of applications which access the features or data of an operating system, application, or other service.
  • Front end describes all the parts of a website that can be seen and interacted with by users. Front end web development usually involves coding with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.
  • Back end (ooh err!) – The back end of a website consists of a server, an application, and a database. A back-end developer builds and maintains the technology that powers those components which, together, enable the user-facing side of the website to even exist in the first place.
  • HTML or Hypertext Markup Language is the standard markup language for creating web pages and web applications. With Cascading Style Sheets and JavaScript, it forms a triad of cornerstone technologies for the World Wide Web
  • CSS stands for Cascading Style Sheets. CSS describes how HTML elements are to be displayed on screen, paper, or in other media. CSS saves a lot of work. It can control the layout of multiple web pages all at once.
  • Javascript is a high-level, interpreted programming language. It is used to make dynamic web pages interactive and provide online programs, including video games.
  • Data encryption translates data into another form, or code, so that only people with access to a secret key (formally called a decryption key) or password can read it.
  • HTTPS is an adaptation of the Hypertext Transfer Protocol for secure communication over a computer network, and is widely used on the Internet.
  • A CAPTCHA (an acronym for “Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart“) is a type of challenge–response test used in computing to determine whether or not the user is human.
  • Cookies – An HTTP cookie is a small piece of data sent from a website and stored on the user’s computer by the user’s web browser while the user is browsing.