Everything from sophisticated business automation platforms, to robust email clients, to complex ecommerce platforms leverage web application development to provide powerful software to the world in real-time.
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.
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 website design and website development are carried out together to build websites.
Both of these processes work in tandem to build 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 web 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 Designers deal with the front-end, the aesthetics and ‘look and feel’, of a website. They employ graphic tools such as Adobe Photoshop to create the final graphical representation of all the web pages of a website.
Developers on the other hand take care of the back-end, the unseen coding aspect, of any website. They work through web languages such as PHP, Java or .NET. They use the finished product of a website designer’s work, the graphical representation of a web page, to write the code for the web pages.
Website design is the customer-facing part of a website. Web designers aesthetically arrange and implement their design ideas on the website. They utilize the same key visual elements that all types of designers do, such as:
Web developers on the other hand are responsible for making the website 'do' things and perform tasks. 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's experience.
All the programming elements on websites, such as actions on forms and rollovers for menus, are created by web developers. Typical activities on a website 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 website 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 projects they have worked on.
Developers on the other hand are historically not known to focus on making something visually appealing. They just create websites with clean software codes that are technically sound but may like 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. In most cases, one person does the design while the other person takes care of the development aspect. Website Designers normally do not program and programmers usually not graphic artists. However there is always a bit of a crossover between the two.
A lot of hard work and a good amount of thought goes into building a successful website. Today’s users demand fast load times, professional aesthetics, and valuable content. It is very difficult to attract and engage a consumer who will stay long enough on your website to identify and communicate with you.
Websites are often the lifeblood of an organization. Marketing a brand online, setting up an eCommerce platform, and publishing news and other content 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 content, and immersing visitors with effective website design techniques allow for many businesses to differentiate themselves from competitors (and garner increased market share). 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 website and cancel their purchase.
Responsive website design (RWD) is an approach to web design that adapts page elements for specific devices. RWD 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. Some studies have gone to pinpoint how each additional second of load time can reduce online sales by 7%. Given that many consumers are spending hours a day with light-weight speedy mobile applications, 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 web development and design 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 website? 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. Website design evolves at a tremendous rate, meaning that talented designers 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 operations presenting products to consumers, images and high quality visuals are the gateway to finalizing transactions.
Amazon has a great feature for HD zooming on products. Users can zoom in and closely inspect a product as if they were holding it up to their eye. Any way that a brand can bridge the gap between physical inspection of a product online will immerse the user and increase the likelihood of a transaction.
Strategic use of graphics can also amplify the impact of web design. Specified visuals that help drive home the idea of an article, or the call to action on a landing page, are central to today’s web experiences. Another aspect of visuals to consider is the physical size of the files on a website. Clunky images can have a direct impact on load times and usability of a page.
Written content is still critical despite the popularity of YouTube, Vine, and Instagram. Text must be adapted for the age of mobile users. Screen sizes are smaller and touchscreens have replaced the mouse. In the same way that graphics and icons have changed in response to finger-tips, the design of written content must take into account mobile users.
Larger text, the use of sub-sections, and shorter more focused content writing is central for today’s websites. Not only does the written content detail a company’s services and products, it can also serve as a channel to distributes calls to actions (such as singing up for a whitepaper, or filling out a contact form).
Content, when used strategically, can help funnel potential customers towards reaching a touch point or finalizing a transaction.
Take a look at NYRR.org, Icreon Tech and the New York Road Runners collaborated to bring the oldest running organization in the nation into the digital age...
For the last several years, web developers and designers became thoroughly acclimated to the tablet and smartphone medium. Websites across all devices are now showing consistency in performance and aesthetics.
Expect websites to continue evolving thanks to innovation from web developers and designers. To help guide the navigation of buzzwords and trends, Icreon Tech's development team collaborated to bring you the most important web development trends for business.
One of the most common complaints about mobile web experiences and even desktop web experiences, rests with the size and clarity of text-copy. In an effort to make websites more mobile ready, web development has stressed clear and intuitive layouts for web copy.
UK based outdoor brand Howies, recently created a custom typeface for their website. Designer Carter Wong incorporated actual ring-patterns from a fallen chestnut tree. Web development teams are focusing more attention on the display of text-based content.
Web developers and designers will be faced with a new variety of OS types in the coming years. Chromebook's were surprisingly successful; sapping substantial sales from Microsoft, HP and other PC giants. The Chromebook runs entirely on Chrome OS with a fleet of Chrome applications. Google has released a Windows 8.1 version of Chrome that can essentially be used as a secondary OS for a user.
Mozilla has also released its mobile Firefox OS, and former engineers from Nokia have released the mobile OS Sailfish for the Jolla smartphone. Thanks to the advent of new OS types, web developers and designers have additional device fragmentation to attend to this year.
Arguably the biggest technology news story in recent memory, Healthcare.gov's disastrous launch will go down as a historical case study for how not to develop and launch a website. Brands and web development companies alike are focusing efforts on a seamless go-live.
The launch of a website or web application now communicates an important message about brand competence to customers, potential investors, and media alike. For the upcoming year, expect website development teams to pay increased attention to a flawless launch.
Progressions in pixel quality and resolution have resulted in displays on monitors and mobile devices that shine light on any and all flaws in aesthetic design. Web development teams will focus on creating smooth user interface (UI) transitions.
Similar to the way that mobile apps operate in a seamless and intuitive fashion, websites will begin to replicate the experience. For the upcoming year expect websites to feel and look like mobile apps.
Although HTML5 has faced its share of challenges in terms of proliferation, there is legitimate potential in the enterprise space. In an age where employees and managers alike are constantly switching between devices, HTML5 is an ideal language for enterprise website applications.
Building enterprise web applications with HTML5 allow for access on any device type. Such web applications run within a standard browser and require zero plugins. In the enterprise, HTML5 will be seen as a viable option for creating applications that every employee can access. With offline functionality and high performance, HTML5 web applications will be embraced by the enterprise.
For the first time ever, mobile device users are spending more time within apps than surfing the web. The high speed performance and superb design of today's leading mobile apps are attracting attention and increasing expectations when it comes to digital experiences.
Customers are spending more time than ever interacting with software and web applications, and the resulting impact on how a business approaches website design is undeniable. Traditional header menus are disappearing in favor of side drawer menus. Icons are getting larger, and visuals and graphics are becoming flatter.
All of these trends in web development are directly inspired by mobile developers. Website design teams that are aiming to build websites that appeal to today's tech-savvy consumer base, should attempt to emulate the look and feel of mobile apps.
One of the best ways to make a website feel like an app on a mobile device, and even on a desktop, is responsive website design (RWD). Regardless of the device type used to access a website built with RWD, the website will actually adapt to the screen size. With RWD in place a website’s content and visuals will appear consistent.
Brand's aiming to represent themselves on the web in the best way possible, should focus heavily on providing consistent and quality web experiences focused on design. Attending to touch screen users is crucial. Graphics and icons should attempt to find a balance between desktop users and mobile users.
When the window re-sizes thanks to RWD, the graphics and icons must fit as well. Application features such as the commonly used sidebar menu can slide out from the left side of a window. Drop-down menus that fit inconspicuously in the corner of a web page can allow for increased room for content.
Mobile developers are masters of strategic utilization of screen real estate, given the limitations compared to traditional web developers. Website development teams and business leaders should undoubtedly look to trends in mobile application design and development when attempting to reinvigorate their web presence.
When it comes to applications, the speed and lightweight file size make them ideal for constant access. The memory consumed does not stress the device, making for an enjoyable and seamless experience. When it comes to websites, slow load times and clunky loading are a sales killer.
Every extra second it takes for a website to low will negatively impact a business. Users need instant gratification. So a website that takes more than 7 seconds to load will force users to leave (and visit a competitor’s faster, more well designed website).
Research firm StrangeLoop, breaks it down to the point that every extra second it takes a website to load will reduce conversions by 7%. With such high stakes involved with an effective web presence and the bottom line, businesses must stress the importance of high performing websites that are comparable to applications in terms of performance.
While development and design of a website are crucial to performance, the web hosting provider is where a business should also focus attention.
A recent Nielsen poll found that the average American spends over 60 hours per week on a digital device. At this point in time, the average customer is incredibly discerning when it comes to software, websites, and applications. As a result of our increasingly tech-savvy and mobile driven lives, brands must revamp their web design to enhance their presence for today’s mobile audiences.