At Icreon, web development forms a cornerstone of our business technology practice. We use technologies like Java, PHP, .NET & Python to build scalable, enterprise-grade software that stands up to rigorous use across a variety of verticals.
Connecting disparate sources of information.
Organizing, collating & normalizing it for your databases.
Creating the application engine that transforms the data.
Deploying it on a scalable, secure, and reliable infrastructure.
Making it accessible across browsers, client apps and mobile devices.
Despite being mistaken by countless business people and even technical personnel themselves, web design and web development are two different things. However, the two processes of web design and development are carried out together to develop websites, web applications, and web portals.
These processes work in tandem to develop various elements of a website (like navigation and presentation of media), with the ultimate goal of creating a user-friendly website. But even though website design and development are often used interchangeably, they denote two different skill-sets and responsibilities.
Typically if one likes pushing pixels around, one is a web designer. But if one would rather write code to solve problems, one is a web developer.
Web design deals with the front-end development (the aesthetics and ‘look and feel’) of a website. Web designers employ graphic tools such as Adobe Photoshop to create the final graphical representation of the website.
Web development on the other hand takes care of the back-end development (the unseen coding aspect) of any website. Web developers work through web languages such as PHP, Java or ASP.NET. They use the finished product of a web designer's work (the graphical representation of a web page) to write the code for the website.
Website design is the customer-facing part of a website. Web designers aesthetically arrange and implement their design ideas on the site. They utilize the same key visual elements that all types of designers do, such as:
Web development on the other hand is responsible for making the website function. Although the fruits of a web developer’s work is not actually visible to the visitors of a website, it is absolutely vital to the user experience (UX).
All the programming elements on websites, such as actions on website forms and rollovers for menus, are created by web developers. Typical activities on a site that are taken care of by website development techniques include:
Much of a web designer’s job is creative and depends heavily on imagination and intuition, often the characteristics of people who are considered right-brained. The best designers have a strong grasp on a variety of concepts including color and typography, user experience and spatial relationships (but lack technical knowledge regarding code, testing and development). Designers are known to make portfolios that showcase the web design projects they have worked on.
Developers on the other hand are historically not known to focus on making something visually appealing. They create websites with clean software codes that are technically sound but may lack visual sensibility. Skills such as technical ability and logic are an essential part of their repertoires (not visual aesthetics and creativity). This is the reason they are often thought of as left-brained workers.
Usually it is difficult to find someone who is superior at both website design and development. In most cases, one person does the design while the other person takes care of the development aspect. Web designers normally do not do programming and programmers are usually not graphic artists.
Websites are often the lifeblood of an organization. Marketing a brand online, setting up an eCommerce operation, and publishing news via blogs are critical strategies for businesses today. The various functions and capabilities of a website are often tied to the perception of a brand.
Reaching the right customers through optimized website content, and immersing visitors with effective web design techniques allow for many businesses to differentiate themselves. But when a website lags behind in terms of trending technologies and approaches to web development, the increasingly tech-savvy consumer will negatively judge a brand by their website.
In the same way that retailers and restaurant chains strategically assess and carefully implement updates to physical locations, brands should hold their websites to the same scrutiny and attention to detail. If you're wondering whether or not your own website is meeting the expectations of today's digital consumer, the following list will help you assess a website and decide if it's time for a redesign or complete rebuild.
Mobile devices are the new standard when it comes to computing. We are officially in the Post-PC era when it comes to the device of choice for consumers. In fact, 25% of all website traffic in the world came from a smartphone or tablet (which means brands must optimize their websites for mobile users).
Not only do websites need to be optimized for mobile device screen sizes, but they must also attend to touchscreens and finger-tips rather than a mouse click. Buttons, content, and other user interface features must adapt to smartphones and tablets. If not, consumers will encounter a clunky mobile version of a site and cancel their purchase.
Responsive web design (RWD) is an approach to web design that adapts page elements for specific devices. Responsive web design can allow for one website that optimizes itself for tablets, smartphones, and PCs accordingly. Leading to open access for potential customers regardless of the device they use to surf the web.
Load times are more important than ever when it comes to reaching consumers online. Given that many consumers are spending hours a day with light-weight speedy mobile apps, that expectation regarding responsiveness and quality will carry over to websites whether brands like it or not.
To counteract this problem, brands must consult with expert web development teams to discover what aspects of a website are holding it back from optimal performance. Is it poor code? Are images and video files bulking down the site? There are countless factors that come into play. Brands should also reach out to their web hosting provider to assess bandwidth usage and potential solutions.
Studies have shown that visitors will judge a website within 6 seconds of seeing the homepage. This reality drives home the importance of compelling and immersive web design. Web design evolves at a tremendous rate, meaning that talented design companies who position themselves at the crest of innovation are necessary to stand out in today's increasingly digital landscape.
A recent Nielsen study found that the average American spends around 60 hours every week on a digital device. This adds up to a consumer base that is increasingly perceptive when it comes to critiquing digital experiences (specifically when it comes to the redesign of a website or mobile app). Mobile apps have also added to the pace of progress in web design.
Catering to touchscreens has resulted in the proliferation of flat design on many websites. Often times when the technical features of a competitor’s website are equal to your own, design elements can serve as a final factor in communicating the spirit of a brand.
Humans, for the most part, are visual learners. Many studies have shown that visual messaging can supplement written content and increase engagement with a page. Specifically for eCommerce website operations presenting products to consumers, images and high quality visuals are the gateway to finalizing transactions.
One of the most commonly-undertaken projects in enterprise technology is the website overhaul. Over a matter of just a few years, a business can quickly outgrow the scope of its current online experience, meaning that the website itself fails to get the job done.
But just as common as this change can be, it also comes with one major pitfall: Because website overhauls are typically driven by one or two desperately-needed upgrades, organizations get tunnel vision and fail to tackle the task as a multi-faceted project.
Some focus on the visual aspect and neglect to optimize paths to conversion. Others jettison Search Engine Optimization (SEO) in favor of UX details. To make sure you get the most out of overhauling your website, here are issues that businesses don’t pay enough attention to.
Regardless of what your technological needs are, the first thing to focus on—and a factor which many businesses overlook—is the expertise of your web development team.
Too often, decision makers have a list of features they want to implement, but fail to understand the talent it takes to deliver the functionality of those features. It’s important to understand the programming expertise that your web project will require, so you can deliver the website functionality you desire.
If your company relies on organic traffic as a major part of your marketing strategy, you should optimize your website to perform well in search engines.
Search engines, like users, need to easily navigate your website if they’re to gain an understanding of what the web pages are about. By properly structuring your navigation, internally linking to appropriate pages, and writing copy that makes sense for each page, search engines like Google can easily discover, index and suggest your pages to prospective customers.
If your company already performs well in search engines, changing URLs and the structure of your website could have a massive impact on your rankings. A strategic plan should be in place to ensure a migration to a new website doesn't negatively impact rankings.
If you lack the ability to track your visitors’ habits, you lose to ability to personalize their experiences. Your website analytics should be able to segment the different channels of traffic, track different actions such as whitepaper downloads and email sign ups, and whichever other statistics will provide you with the insight you need to personalize the user experience. This is especially crucial for websites focused on lead generation , which need to know where visitors and conversions came from. Otherwise, businesses lack the data needed to continuously improve marketing campaigns.
Creating websites that work well on every device type is easier than ever thanks to responsive web design (RWD). The originator of the technique for developing websites that maintain quality whether viewed on smartphones, tablets or PCs, is Ethan Marcotte.
“Rather than quarantining our content into disparate, device-specific experiences, we can use media queries to progressively enhance our work within different viewing contexts.”
So instead of creating a website with static images, content and icons meant solely to be viewed on desktops, web developers create something similar to custom presets for delivering varied content to specific devices.
By examining some of the key benefits of responsive web design, businesses can better move forward with optimizing their website for an audience continually swapping tablets for smartphones, and smartphones for PCs.
Responsive web design is not a language, and neither is it a specific form of technology. More than anything, RWD is a collective of techniques and concepts used to build websites in a digital world increasingly dominated by mobile technologies. Above all else, responsive web design helps optimize content for varying screen sizes and device types.
Icreon Tech COO Devanshi Garg, describes the goal of the process as:
“Providing great web experiences that let visitors consume content easily and navigate seamlessly throughout the site on nearly any device.”
There are multiple aspects involved with re-designing or developing a website in a responsive way. Below, you'll find the primary factors involved with developing a website that adapts to specific device types:
Media Queries and Fluid Grids
A media query is a central component to creating responsive websites. When a device accesses a website, a media query senses the type of device and delivers specific content optimized for an iPhone, Android tablet, or PC.
Each device has a unique device identifier (UDID) which details the specific hardware being used. Once the site acknowledges the device type, specified displays of content are delivered thus optimizing the website’s appearance.
Traditional websites are built as static rigid pages. The layout is preset and nothing adapted to shrinking window sizes. With the latest responsive websites a user can notice an immediate difference by shrinking and expanding a web page right on their desktop.
Fluid grids are what allow pages to adapt. Code within the web page calculates the optimal presentation of an image by assessing the size of the screen resolution (which is defined by the developer). As the windows reduces in size, the target image adapts as well.
The best way to exemplify break points is to head to a responsive website and mess around with the window size. As you shrink the page on your desktop, there are points where page elements shift as the window size decreases or increases.
Depending on the device types preferred by your website audience, breakpoints can and should be chosen strategically. As the window size decreases to the size of a tablet the page elements shift a certain way, and as you descend to the size of a smartphone the page shifts a third time.
While not all responsive websites have break points for each device type, most include at least two break points (one for a PC and one for a mobile device). When breakpoints are reached with the browser display, dynamic image scaling comes into play in order to adjust image sizes.
Using techniques such as jQuery plugins and CSS3, web developers can ensure high quality images and optimal layouts for each screen size. This process guarantees that images will adapt their size accurately each time.