Digital Consultant & Director
A website or application typically consists of 2 parts: the front-end and the back-end. Front-end web development is what you notice most immediately upon opening a webpage or applications; it’s what provides the ability to interact with a website or user interface (UI). It gives a website its character through things like animations, colours and hover states, visual effects, layout and so on. In a way, front-end development is the glamorous side of web development because the effects of quality front-end web development are more obvious to most people. Front-end frameworks like ReactJS, VueJS and AngularJS are rapidly improving the way front-end developers can go about their work. In different ways, these awesome frameworks enable front-end developers with the ability to create large scale applications relatively quickly. Front-end developers often rely on APIs which are received from back-end developers or online web services.
A web application’s back-end is basically the core of a web application. Without quality back-end web development, the front-end development would do little more than make a website look pretty because it would have no substance under the hood. Database interactions, business logic, calculations and performance are all the realm of the back-end developer. The less glamorous things which actually make an application functional. Back-end code runs on the server, which means back-end web developers need to have a strong understanding of their server’s architecture. Most back-end programming languages like python and Ruby have uniformed styles and dialects which make back-end development far more efficient (and enjoyable) than it once was, so many front-end developers are more inclined to delve in to back-end development than yesteryear. High level back-end development is pivotal to the functionality of a website. Much like a car without an engine, a website without quality back-end development isn’t going anywhere.
A thorough and successful CRM integration will ensure your website and CRM function together seamlessly. Customer Relationship Management software is more than just a place to retain customer information. With a quality CRM integration, your website will be automatically feeding powerful data straight in to your CRM for use in a variety of marketing related ways. So for example, if you own an e-commerce website and a user adds a product as a ‘favourite’, but doesn’t go on to to buy it in that session, the CRM integration will create a new record in a database which goes on to contact that potential customer, offering a good deal on the product. Which could be a good sale for you. When the CRM affects sales like this repeatedly, it’s going to increase your conversion rate and your revenue.
There are loads of good CRM products around, which are generally all pretty similar to use from a web development perspective. Web development companies will often market themselves as ‘specialists’ or ‘partners’ in a specific CRM. Credentials like ‘Partner’ are easy to attain and basically just mean that the web development company earns a commission by reselling the CRM provider’s product. Which ties them in to only promoting that particular CRM, even if an alternate CRM would be more suited. So for instance a ‘Gold Partner’ doesn’t necessarily mean a company is doing a good job for their clients; it means they’re doing a good job at reselling the CRM supplier’s product.
PHP (Hypertext Preprocessor) is arguably the most widely used and powerful programming language on the web today. It enables PHP developers to build large-scale web applications. Alternate scripting languages in use besides PHP include Ruby and ASP (Active Server Pages). One of PHP’s main appeals to PHP developers (or aspiring web developers) is that the it is relatively easy to learn compared with some other languages, and is accompanied by vast amounts of online tutorials and documentation for self-learning. Most of the major websites we all use, including Google, Facebook and YouTube use PHP development in various ways. Bring a back-end programming language, PHP runs on the server, and so you’ll never physically see PHP code on a website as you might a front-end language. PHP development is fast, powerful and very reliable meaning visitors to your website are more likely to have a quality user experience, creating a positive impression for your business in the process.
SilverStripe is an open-source application, developed as a CMS (Content Management System). A good option for information rich websites because of its smooth, streamlined publishing features, it is suitable for both small and large website builds. Finding the best SilverStripe developers for a web project is key, because SilverStripe development is far more challenging to learn than some other applications. So confidence and experience in SilverStripe development is key when searching for SilverStripe developers, with a record of successful websites having being developed in it. SilverStripe code is based on the MVC (Model View Controller) architecture which is a well known programming design pattern. Overall the SilverStripe CMS is an excellent platform with no real limitations on what you can achieve with it. Whether it be a forum, blog or online store, SilverStripe will be able to handle it.
The popularity of Headless CMS development platforms is growing fast in the web development industry, and with good reason. A Headless CMS is basically a back-end content management system, empowering web developers with tremendous flexibility to innovate, and future-proof applications or websites. It does this through a couple of main ways; firstly it enables a website or app owner to refresh their designs without having to rebuild significant parts of the CMS (or even the entire thing). Secondly, it makes the content being held accessible via RESTful APIs which, in turn create the ability to display that data on a mobile application or website – or any device really. Being back-end, a Headless CMS resides on the server. And more than that, it could actually reside on a server completely separate to the front-end of the website or application, remaining entirely anonymous in the process. The benefits of remaining anonymous and detached from the front-end? In a word, security. There are millions of anonymous cyber attacks every month. But by separating the front-end and back-end, you’re giving yourself a far greater shot of remaining secure and robust in the face of a cyber attack. Most mainstream content management systems do position themselves on the same server as your website’s front-end, which can make it vulnerable to attacks. Especially by a hacker with genuine skill and intent. So is it worth considering a Headless CMS as a medium for your next app or website? 100% it is. There are of course cost considerations as well as other factors to take in to account, but for some businesses reducing the threat of cyber attack or downtime far outweighs the slightly elevated web development costs. And, if the website or app requires regular updating on a significant scale, Headless CMS development may decrease the expenditure there considerably. Some of the Headless CMS’s presently leading way to check out include Contentful, Directus and Strapi.
Much like a car or home require service and maintenance for performance, safety and security, so too websites require maintenance and upkeep. Website maintenance is what keeps a website running fast and at the top of Google rankings. Website maintenance ensures data is being stored safely. That all plugins and CMS versions are up to date, minimising exposure to vulnerabilities and data breaches. Website maintenance services will mean your website is up to date with the latest browser updates, and device releases. And just as you entrust the safety and performance of your car with a trusted, qualified mechanic. You entrust the security and performance of your business website with experienced, trusted web development experts.
Web accessibility is about enabling people with disabilities to participate equally on the Web. Just as people have different levels of disability, for instance, sensory impairment vs intellectual disability, so too a website may provide different levels of accessibility. To accommodate for just a few common disability types, through to accommodating for a far more broad range of disabilities. Sensory (visual and aural) impairments are typically the most common types of disabilities accommodated by web accessibility projects. Sensory accessibility may be addressed through a range of techniques, including alternative text for images, colour contrast functionality, and transcripts for audio. Techniques for accessibility best practices are prescribed by the W3C’s Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI).
Traditionally, accessibility has been the realm of governments and educational bodies. The commercial sector tends to overlook the importance of design inclusivity. This is changing though, led by the likes of Amazon and Google. Both, it should be said have the means to easily fund accessibility initiatives. But as well, both recognise the commercial benefits of creating an inclusive service.
According to Stats NZ and the Ministry of Health, 24% of New Zealanders have some form of disability, ie 1.1 million people. Could your business or organisation benefit from the added exposure to this considerable portion of the population? How about improved search engine optimisation, reduced website maintenance costs and a wider audience reach? If so, consider improving the accessibility of your website as one of your first options. Don’t know how? Speak to us, we are experienced in the design and development of websites with enhanced accessibility.
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