With over 5 billion people worldwide connected to the internet today, it’s not hard to see why website development and maintenance has become one of the fastest-growing industries.
More and more companies create a website for their businesses to boost brand awareness, promote their products, and engage consumers. According to a Clutch study, 64% of small and midsize businesses (SMBs) own a website and among SMBs without a website, 58% plan to build one.
The fact that the Internet has become a resource for news, information, and entertainment also demands a professional business website. Both small and large businesses should realise the importance of having a website to reap its many benefits.
If you want to build a website but don’t know how to get started, hiring a web development agency like 2Stallions is the easiest route to take. However, learning the web development and maintenance basics can help you understand better how websites work.
Blast from the Past
Did you know that the first website went live in 1992? Between now and the early ‘90s, the website development process has evolved massively.
In the new Millenium, more people created business websites to distribute information through blogging. This has made Content Management Systems (CMS) and responsive web design a trend from the year 2000 up until now.
And when the social media revolution arrived in 2003, websites started to gear up for signing ads, widgets, graphics, and images for social profiles. Then, the tremendous mobile era began when Apple released its first android device in 2008.
Fast forward to today, websites should incorporate a responsive and mobile-friendly to improve search engine ranking. It’s also crucial to embrace the user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) aspects when building a website.
Website Development vs. Website Maintenance
Here’s a general rule of thumb:
Website development is simply about getting a website up and running. It involves a lot of steps, including planning, designing, content creation, coding, testing, and more. It also includes security testing and other activities to ensure the website is safe from cyber-attacks.
Website maintenance refers to the process of monitoring a website’s overall performance after development. It’s about maintaining a website’s existing features through hosting and updating content, site plugins, and software.
This web development and maintenance could be a little overwhelming. So, we prepared a list of the most common terminologies you must know
- Back-end: also known as server-side development, this practice focuses on databases, scripting, and website architecture.
- Browser: a program used to access the Web–Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Microsoft Edge, and more.
- Cache: a component that stores data to make future requests from repeat visitors faster.
- CMS: short for the content management system, this program is used to create and maintain a site’s content.
- CSS: “Cascading Style Sheet” is a language used to style an HTML document.
- Domain: is the name of a website (ours is www.2stallions.com).
- Firewall: is a network security system that monitors traffic to or from a network.
- HTML: “Hypertext Markup language” is a language used to design web pages.
- Meta tag: snippets of text used in an HTML document.
- Server: a program or device that stores, sends, and receives data.
- Search engine optimisation: refers to the practice of improving the visibility of a website in search engine results pages.
- Sitemap: is a file that contains all the pages and information of a website.
- UI: short for user interface, it refers to anything a user interacts with on a website.
- UX: stands for user experience, it refers to the user’s overall experience with the website interface.
- Website: a collection of web pages and related content (i.e., text, images, video, etc.) housed in a single domain name.
- Web developers: refer to the professionals responsible for developing websites.
Types of Website Development
1. Front-end Development
At its simplest, front-end development tackles the overall look and feel of a website. It involves everything you see on a website from buttons to images, icons, animations, search bar, colour scheme, and more.
Here are the three main languages of front-end development:
- HTML – it structures the page layouts of a website. An HTML document is divided into two parts: head and body.
- Head: the <head> element contains the information about the document, such as page title, metadata, etc.
- Body: the <body> contains all the information seen in a webpage, including headings, paragraphs, images, hyperlinks, tables, lists, and more,
- display a dropdown list of options when the mouse hovers on the products or services button
- show or hide more information with the click of a button
- play audio, video, and animations on a web page
- slide through a carousel of images on the homepage
- CSS – it defines the presentation and formatting of web pages. This language touches important web elements, such as:
2. Back-end Development
If front-end development focuses on what site visitors see on the Internet, back-end development tackles the digital infrastructure of the website. This web development technique includes all tasks related to building and maintaining the codes, which keep the site up and running.
Below are the common back-end coding languages:
- lightweight scripting
- dynamic typing
- object-oriented programming
- Python – is a straightforward programming language; it comes with a library of pre-written code, reducing the need to write code from scratch. Here’s why Python is popular among businesses:
- small learning curve
- better code readability
- compatibility with other languages
- PHP – short for Hypertext Preprocessor, this scripting language goes through an interpreter to create a machine-readable code. It’s best used for adding functionality to websites.
- built-in functions
- user-defined functions
- Ruby – is another programming language that supports front-end and back-end development. Developing back-end on Ruby offers the following advantages:
- high-speed development
- simple coding process
- easy-to-understand syntax
3. Full-stack Development
As the name suggests, full-stack web development consists of both the front- and back-end portions of web applications. It covers the parts users interact with and all the behind-the-scenes processes that power a website.
Since this website development is comprehensive, full-stack developers must keep abreast of the emerging technologies. Below are skills needed for full-stack development:
- coding for functionality across multiple languages and platforms
- working knowledge of back-end technologies
- managing database storage and servers
Evolution of the Web
Websites and web development have gone through a few evolutions–Web 1.0, 2.0, and 3.0. Each evolution has brought new tools and techniques relevant to the web development and maintenance industry.
Web 1.0 describes the early years of the Internet. During this era, the web followed a static or read-only approach, meaning the users can’t interact with the page content.
Here are a few more characteristics of a Web 1.0 site:
- offers minimal users interaction
- allows one-way flow of information
- supports online transactions
- used for research and data gathering
Web 2.0 is the second generation of the World Wide Web; it highlights user-generated content, with usability and interoperability between applications (software) and machines (hardware).
Unlike its predecessor, Web 2.0 provides a more interactive user experience and encourages active participation. This model also promotes a flexible web design, reusing of codes, collaborative content creation, online commenting, and more.
The following are the common principles of Web 2.0:
- Platform – the web is a technology associated with blogs, wikis, podcasts, RSS feeds, etc.
- Harness collective intelligence – the web allows users to gather data and share their insights.
- Full-scale applications – the web is accessible on multiple devices.
Web 3.0 describes the future of web evolution; it takes on many forms, such as machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI). In this concept, the web is data-driven or ‘semantic’. The web has the capability to comprehend the meaning of words, rather than keywords or numbers.
Here are some major characteristics of Web 3.0:
- open-source software
- decentralised data architecture
- more personalised user experience
Principles of Developing a Website
An effective website should fulfil its function, be it to convey a brand message, promote products, or engage site visitors. In a perfect world, you would hire a website development agency to ensure the development process goes smoothly.
Below are some guidelines that will help you in your web project:
First things first, determine the purpose of your website. Running a website isn’t usually free, so set a clear purpose or goal to get your money’s worth and most importantly, get a return on investment (ROI).
If you’re not sure about your website’s purpose, start by determining your priorities. Then, identify your audience, and what actions you want them to take. Here are the purposes common to all websites:
- Establish your reputation
- Build brand awareness
- Sales and after-care
- Generate leads
2. Usability & User Experience
It’s no secret that web development and web design must work together. That’s why when you hire a web developer, make sure he has a background in the user interface (UI) and user experience (UX).
Here’s why these two concepts are vital in the website development process:
User interface (UI) determines how easily a user can perform actions on a website; it sets the tone and converts visitors and customers.
UI best practices:
- keep the interface simple
- plan a design for short-attention spans
- improve or increase page loading speeds
- create consistency among web elements
- use colours, button styles, and typography strategically
User experience (UX) deals with the user’s behaviour and feeling while browsing a website; it focuses on creating an inviting, usable site that makes people want to stay.
UX best practices:
- build a sitemap; eliminate unnecessary web pages and duplicate content
- create a clear visual hierarchy; guide the eye to the most important element
- adapt a minimalist web design for easy navigation and faster page loading speed
- encourage user interaction by adding call-to-action buttons or newsletter signup prompts
For a website to be effective, it should have a compelling design and good content. Search engines and users find websites with quality content credible. So, make sure to fuel your content marketing strategy and produce well-written website copy and content pieces.
4. Load Time
The slower a website loads, the higher chances of visitors leaving the site. FYI, the ideal page load speed is 2.9 seconds or below. Here are a few ways to optimise the speed of your site:
- Reduce redirects
- Optimise images
- Enable compression
- Minify and combine files
- Leverage browser caching
- Reduce server response time
5. Responsive Design
In this day and age, people can access the web using different devices, such as computers, laptops, tablets, and smartphones. If your website can’t adapt to every device possible, visitors may leave your site and look for other options.
Security is also an essential component of web development Hacking has become prominent nowadays; any backdoor to your system can pose security threats.
Take all the necessary precautions to improve your website security. Here are some ways to do it:
- Encrypt your data
- Add HTTPS and SSL certificate
- Avoid security misconfigurations
- Apply authentication, role management, and access control
Basics of Website Maintenance
Maintaining a website is as essential as creating it. You must monitor your website routinely to ensure it’s running at full capacity and serving its intended purposes.
Here are a few good reasons to keep your site updated:
- It boosts site traffic. One of the main purposes of a website is to get your name out there. The thing is, it’s impossible to reach a wide audience if your website isn’t ranking in the search engines.
- It improves security. Poorly maintained websites are more vulnerable to security risks. Not only does regular maintenance protect your site from cyber attacks, but it also assures your site visitors safe browsing and online purchases.
- It drives engagement. Your web appearance, site speed, content, and other elements influence user experience. If any of these factors lag behind due to lack of web maintenance, you’re likely to put readers off and lose customers.
Tips for Maintaining a Website
Google favours updated content and loves frequent updates. So what’s in it for you? Updating your website and its contents (i.e., articles, web pages, etc.) helps web crawlers a.k.a spider bots crawl and index your website.
In short, keeping your site updated gives you better chances of getting a higher ranking on search engine results pages.
To ensure your site provides a meaningful user experience, watch out for any technical issues and address them immediately to keep your website functional. Check out the common problems that can negatively affect your site’s performance.
- slow loading speed
- presence of broken links
- problematic landing pages
- security and certification issues
- multiple 404 errors and redirects
Over time, there will be shifts in both devices and browsers. Test your website’s compatibility with several versions of mainstream browsers and the newest mobile devices and tablets to improve your site’s usability.
Backing up your website minimises potential data losses. If you have an automatic backup feature, take the time to check it every month. It’s also a good idea to do quarterly backups so it’s easier to restore your website just in case a catastrophic event happens.
Summing It Up
Companies should keep pace with digital transformation–and the first step to achieving it is by building a solid business website. Note that the majority of the worldwide population today has access to the Internet, which means your businesses could be just a few clicks away.
So, if you don’t have a website yet, this is a sign for you to contact a reliable website development agency.
2Stallions offers website, app, and e-commerce design. We create responsive mobile-friendly web designs to help your users find information quickly and take necessary actions. We also offer a website protection plan, giving brands peace of mind.
Contact us at (+65) 9129 6248 or get a quote if you want to dive into web development.