What is Web Development?
The term web development covers a lot. It encompasses all aspects of putting something on the internet. Whether it’s a typical company website on a CMS like WordPress, an intranet page, a web-based app or game, or a big social media platform – building any of these requires a web developer to write the code and configure the server to have everything function and display correctly. Usually, this work is broken down into three areas: Front-end Development, Back-end Development, and Systems Administration. These all have to work together for a site to look great and function well.
Back-end development often deals with the server-side components of making a website or app work. This is the stuff that happens behind the scenes to communicate with the database to make things work.
The database could be a content management system, like WordPress, or another application entirely. Complex functions, communications with the server, API integrations, and more are all back-end development.
Often overlooked, the server that all of this code lives on and the network it runs on are just as important. From hardware specifications and redundant internet connections to operating system configurations, firewalls, DNS settings, and more, all of these aspects need to work together.
Making sure your dot com is pointed at the right IP address and that your page is securely delivered to users with the appropriate headers all depends on having reliable systems. Make sure you're covered with everything from your domain registrar to your shared hosting provider or a fully-managed dedicated server and everything between.
Why Does Web Development Matter to Me?
Whether your website is built on WordPress, Shopify, or something else, the look and function of it depends on properly-written, well-maintained code. Good web development is a crucial component for your business to stay competitive. Following best practices will ensure site enhancements are implemented correctly, in a forward-looking manner, and provide a consistent user experience across multiple devices. Think about the following:
- Does your website work well across all devices?
- Is your website secure?
- Does it load lightning fast?
- Is your website accessible to all users, even those using screen readers or keyboard navigation?
- Can visitors find the information they need quickly and easily?
- Is it easy to contact you through your website?
- Is it easy to make purchases on your website?
- Are you able to make simple updates to your website?
If your current website is lacking in any of these areas, it needs a refresh or a redesign; or maybe even a re-platform to a user-friendly CMS like WordPress. Websites that offer a good user experience, load fast, are responsive, and prioritize security perform better in search engines than those that don’t. Plus, you should be able to manage your own website. Good web development practices ensure your website is cutting edge, up to date, and easy for you to manage.
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How We Build Good Websites
A lot of factors go into building a good website. With technology always changing, it’s important to keep up and stay current. This is how we build good websites:
Start with a Solid Foundation
All of our sites start from a solid base of core libraries, normalized styles, and modern build tools. We stay up to date as technologies advance and trends emerge, and incorporate them into our processes. This ensures your new site is taking advantage of new features on modern devices and meeting user expectations.
Because things can change quickly on the web, websites are not a once-and-done thing. They need to be maintained and updated to continue to provide the best user experience possible. Having a strong foundation that is built to be flexible and extendable means things can be changed or added later as your business needs them in a way that is cost-effective and efficient.
Custom Development vs Theme Hacking
When it comes to building websites, it seems like a lot of developers are content with plugging in an off-the-shelf theme that somebody else built and just “making it work” without fully considering the future implications.
In some cases, a pre-built theme might be the best solution for your website needs and budget, as long as the chosen theme supports the features you’re looking for. But, every business is different and the function you need on your website may not be provided by a pre-built theme, or limitations on a pre-built theme may complicate your future plans.
When you buy a theme and try to “make it work” for your needs, the look and function of your website are often limited by the whatever constraints are built into the theme. Trying to make a pre-built theme do something it wasn’t originally built to do often results in a more difficult and costly process than if it were built from the ground up.
Instead of limitations, a custom-built website gives you freedom and gives you exactly what you want, without the fluff or code bloat that you don’t need. Our custom websites all start from a solid, handcrafted foundation to make sure that your site stays on the cutting edge for years to come.
Be Aware of the Future
Because technology can change so rapidly, the web is always in a state of flux. We keep tabs on new developments in the industry and plan our work so they can be accommodated in the future. This is one of the many reasons why our client’s sites don’t need to be completely overhauled every year just to maintain a modern look.
Keep Accessibility in Mind
Part of providing a good user experience on your website is ensuring that everyone can use it. There are over 57 million people living with a disability in the United States alone, a number that continues to increase each year. Not only is it a good business practice to ensure everyone can use your website, but it’s also required by law in many cases.
Your business may fall under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which would require your facilities as well as your website to be accessible. In general, we make sure to incorporate the use of screen readers, keyboard navigation, and color blindness into the development of our sites to ensure it is accessible to everyone and are familiar with WCAG 2.
Use SEO-Friendly Structures
Another big part of building a good website is ensuring it has a strong foundation for SEO. Search Engine Optimization is not a once-and-done type of thing and neither are websites. Ongoing maintenance and efforts are required in order to stay competitive, but it certainly helps to have a good foundation in place from the start.
That’s why SEO cannot be an afterthought in web development and why we build our websites using SEO-friendly methods. From URL structures and page hierarchy to schema markup, page speed, and SEO plugins, we make sure that your site is built right from the ground up.
Ensure Easy Administration
It’s your website and you should be able to control it once it’s built and launched. When clients come to us for a website, one of the common reasons they are unhappy with their current site is that is difficult or impossible for them to update and manage on their own. They’re often locked in vendor relationships that charge them for simple updates and take forever to complete them.
Updating an image or changing the text on a page should not require a developer or an extended timeline for completion – you should be able to make those changes when you need them and on your terms. Your website should be built on a user-friendly content management system, like WordPress, that will allow you to control and update what’s on it.
We usually build sites on WordPress as it powers most of the sites on the web (about 1/3rd of all websites!) and is known for its user-friendly interface. We’ll ensure easy administration from the start and even include training with our builds to make sure you and your team are prepped and ready to manage updates when you need to make them.
The MIND team will always be available to help you with any updates you choose to hire us to do, but you won’t be forced into contacting us every single time you want to change something on your site.
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What Kind of Web Development Do You Need?
Web development covers a lot of bases and what you need should be customized to your business’s needs. Not every business needs a brand new website; sometimes they just need a refresh or some added functionality. Another business needs something else. Small business websites, ecommerce solutions, web application development, and more – if it involves code, we can probably build it. So, what kind of web development do you need?
Does your business need a website? We may be located in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, but we have clients throughout the United States. Whether you need a simple informational site for your business, a landing page for a new product or campaign, a site that communicates the values of your non-profit, or something else, MIND has you covered.
Do you want to sell products or services on your site? Raise money for a campaign or initiative for your non-profit? A website enabled for ecommerce can help you do it. We build custom ecommerce solutions. From small stores and non-profit fundraising campaigns to full-scale ecommerce sites and integrations with third-party solutions, MIND can help you get there.
We’re familiar with most merchant gateways and the top reliable ecommerce platforms. We’re familiar with WooCommerce, Shopify, and more – we can help you pick the right one for your business or jump right in to help if you already know which one you prefer.
We also have the know-how to create a user-friendly site with simple checkout processes that make transactions easy for your customers. If your business has a unique need that doesn’t fit within existing systems, we can provide a custom plugin to help you get the function you need. If you’re looking to sell or raise money online, we can build the ecommerce solution you need.
Web Applications and SaaS
Sometimes, your focus goes beyond the functionality of a simple website. That’s where web applications come in. Do you have an idea for a new software, service, or enterprise solution? Let us help add the technical know-how to help bring your dream to life. Our portfolio includes billing software for city services, Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions designed for thousands of users, and custom scientific calculations.
Site Maintenance and Hosting
Our maintenance and hosting plans are the perfect hands-off, worry-free solution to keeping your website updated and working at peak performance post-launch. A good host and ongoing development support are essential to keeping your website live, fast, secure, and competitive.
Is your website giving you trouble? Contact us and talk to a person with technical experience.