Website development from an email developer’s perspective

Here at 1973 we build our fair share of websites and with each website comes it’s own set of challenges. We keep communication going between the client, designers and developers to make sure everyone is happy with the final product and to discuss how things are progressing along the way. We’re fortunate that we’ve got this part of the process refined and that website creation is a lot more forgiving than, for example email creation, but as with any sort of asset creation there are still certain challenges to consider.

In this blog post we’ll explore some of the challenges that exist, primarily from a website development perspective.

The challenges of website design and build 1

Website Optimisation

One of the biggest things with any website is how quickly it loads on the person’s device. According to Google an acceptable load time for a website is 2 seconds so making sure everything loads quickly is vitally important.

Many things on a website can cause slow load times such as scripts, plugins, embedded videos and large images so it’s essential to optimise these things so they aren’t affecting load times.

We can do this in several ways:

With images it’s important to make sure the dimensions and image type is agreed before the build stage. Generally we advise if it’s a large image or background image to use JPGs as these are considered the best image type for memory size. For icons or one-colour images we like to use SVGs as these can be scaled to any size the client or designer wants without losing memory size or quality. PNGs and GIFs also have their place on a website but generally we’d save these for more bespoke occasions.

Scripts and Plugins can slow down load times if they are too complicated or not properly optimised. It’s recommended that any script or plugin used contains the bare minimum of code needed so that you’re not loading additional code that isn’t needed. We also like to minify some of our code, particularly JS code, to lower the amount of bytes required to download the scripts therefore decreasing load times.

Browser Compatibility

Similar to emails it’s important to consider the browsers in which the website will be viewed. Often the client will specify which browsers they believe their user base will be viewing the website on. Therefore it’s vital to make sure the website looks and works as well as it can on these browsers.

However as with email clients web browsers have their own little bugs and quirks, which make website building a challenge. This is particularly true of older browsers that are still commonly used – such as certain versions of IE. Explaining these quirks to a client, who doesn’t necessarily have much knowledge about browsers, can be a challenge in its self.

We combat this by testing our websites on all browsers to make sure any bugs or quirks are found early. If a bug is found we try to apply a fix to remove it. If the issue can’t be resolved then we communicate this to the client or designer and offer a workaround to the issue.

Website Security

A key area of website creation from the development side is making sure the website is secure from any potential attacks. With email creation this often isn’t a big issue because the email clients generally deal with any harmful actions, either through the use of spam filters or the blocking of any data injecting languages such as JavaScript. However this isn’t the case with websites as they are hosted on servers with little to no security measures.

This means that it’s often the responsibility of the developer to make sure the website is safe and secure from any potential attacks. Especially if the website contains sensitive data either on the webpages or in the back-end database.

Whilst important, this process can often be time-consuming mainly due to the fact extensive testing is needed to make sure the website is “bulletproof” from any attacks. The coding needed to make a website secure is also mainly back-end stuff so it’s difficult to visually show a client what’s taking up the development time. We usually like to discuss with the client the processes and reasoning for spending a large chunk of time on security measures.

In summary

The task of building a website can be a joyous one and it’s certainly something we enjoy greatly. It does come with its challenges though and we’ve only touched on some of the more general ones. However with clear communication between you and the client as well as some handy workarounds then no challenge is too great.

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