Web Development

What is Web Development?

Web development is a broad term used to describe any sort of programming related to websites (or web-based applications), for example: the process of building a website. When it comes to websites, web development is the stage where we build the website according to a given design.

Web development is broken down into two areas: front-end development and back-end development. Front-end developers are a mix of a designer and a back-end developer. They are responsible for turning designs into a web site, user interface and JavaScript widgets. Back-end developers generally have no artistic ability and have not seen the light of day since they first turned on a computer. They spend their spare time watching Star Trek and coding Nintendo DS emulators. Back-end developers are responsible for programming into existence all the functions of your web site that it’s users will experience but never see – XML parsers, elaborate product databases, eCommerce integrations etc.

Front-End Development

Front-end development begins by turning a design template (usually a single image) into code (HTML and CSS) – this forms the foundation of your website. This is the easiest stage of web-development (it only gets harder herein), but also one of the most crucial (as we’ll explain below). Amazingly, the majority of web developers will simply use a WYSIWYG editor like Dreamweaver to ‘automatically’ convert your design into HTML. This is little more difficult than using Microsoft Word and results in an utterly unprofessional end product.

Web sites that have been constructed in a WYSIWYG editor will suffer from all of the following:

  • Spaghetti code (messy and bulky code): making the website generally difficult to update and maintain
  • Pages will not be search engine friendly: any future SEO work may require completely re-coding the entire website
  • Code will gradually get worse: updates to the site will cause degradation to already low quality HTML
  • Pages will not comply to Accessibility Standards: this ultimately reduces your target audience
  • Generated code will contain errors: this will cause cross-browser incompatibility and confuse search engines, again reducing your target audience

Shockingly, most websites on the website suffer from a few or all of the problems above. Industry statistics indicate that well under 1% of the number of sites on the internet that have a solid HTML foundation. Most web developers today still opt for the lazy approach and use code generators to create supposedly “professional” websites.

At Webmaster technologies, we take the care to ‘hand code’ every single inch of of your website to absolute perfection using scalable, semantic and standards-compliant code. Our code is:

  • …minimal: as a result the pages are easy to manage and update
  • …structured: the website is built upon a scalable frame work and can easily be expanded
  • …SEO friendly: your content is presented to search engines in the best possible way
  • …error-free: making the website compatible with major web browsers
  • …compliant with industry standards: the website will continue to be compatible with web-browsers in the future

There are many other benefits to having a perfectly coded website, some of which are:

  • Compatibility – all screen resolutions, browsers and operating systems
  • Scalability – the website can be easily expanded
  • Portability – the website is not bound to its creator, any other developer can easily understand and modify the code
  • Reach – Maximize your target audience
  • Long-term savings – Easier to update & maintain, reducing running costs

Once your design has been meticulously put into HTML, the next stage is to add all the required features and facilities to the user interface. This job consists of anything from slide-shows to contact forms or more advanced facilities such as a real-time quoting system.

Back-End Development

Once a project has been through front-end development it is handed over to a back-end developer. This is the stage where all the ‘behind the scenes’ work goes on – the front-end of the site is connected to programming functions and databases that will make the web site actually work.

We have knowledge of and can support development using the following:

Stylesheet: CSS, XLST.
Syndication: XML, Atom, RDF, ROR, JSON, TXT, CSV, TSV.
Server-side Programming: ASP (VBScript / JavaScript), ASP.Net (Visual Basic), PHP 4 & PHP 5, Visual Basic.
Client-side Programming: Javascript, AJAX, JSON, jQuery.
Databases / Query Languages: MS SQL Server, MS Access, MySQL.
SEO Specific: Google Sitemaps, Google Feeds, Yahoo Sitemaps.
Miscellaneous: mod_rewrite (Apache servers)

We work primarily with ASP/MSSQL server-side but we often use a combination of the languages above integrated into one application to achieve any desired functionality.

Our approach to programming is modular and object-orientated. Every application we create is built with maintenance and extensibility in mind. Most of our programming is built on frameworks, which allows us to do more, to a higher standard in less time. The way we approach web development allows us to provide outstanding support to mission crucial critical applications.

We have our own programming framework, which allows us to build more robust applications that are easier and cheaper to maintain. We also have our own content management framework, which allows us to build any form of content management on strong and reliable foundations. Using our framework enables us to quickly respond to support queries and rapidly deal with issues on any of websites, even though each website is completely bespoke.

We do not create anything that uses systems or pre-built packages; quite simply because it usually takes a lot longer to modify off-the-shelf solutions than it does to build a bespoke solution from scratch using a reliable and well established framework like ours. Pre-built solutions are inflexible, difficult to maintain and more costly (long term). You’d be surprised at the number of ‘development companies’ that charge an arm and a leg for lightly modified pre-built packages and a £20 template.