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.
The great debate over whether to use ASP.NET or PHP for web development projects has been a topic of heated debate for some years now. And, being that the internet is nothing if not the world’s largest platform for parody, there are thousands of competing voices out there that are ready to defend or denigrate the use of either PHP or ASP.NET.
Whatever your businesses’ reasons are you may be in the midst of deciding whether to switch from ASP.NET to PHP or vice versa. You might also be wondering which programming language is best to start with on your long journey towards building a strong digital presence for your business. The truth of the matter is that both ASP.NET and PHP are ideal languages that businesses of all sizes can rely on for building a connected digital ecosystem. Below we list five common areas where PHP and ASP.NET matchup head to head.
To begin with, one common misconception about website performance and speed is that the programming language you choose to code in determines your website’s overall performance. In reality, however, there is very little difference between the performance of a PHP run site and an ASP.NET site. Take for example, one of the most common tasks of any web application which is to query a database and output the results on the web server—and ultimately to the end user’s browser.
In the aforementioned scenario the language is simply communicating with the database and web servers to produce a desired outcome. Both PHP and ASP.NET are equally equipped to access file systems, find images, and display pages on a web server, and the speed of these performances rely much more on the database server, end user’s computer, and bandwidth.
That being said there are common myths in the industry about ASP.NET being a more elegant language than PHP. While many expert developers out there will guffaw at the prospect of building a site in PHP the fact that humongous sites such as MailChimp and Facebook are written in PHP should be enough evidence to dispel any notion that PHP sites run more poorly than ASP.NET sites.
Both ASP.NET and PHP are extremely scalable programming languages. What matters more to scalability than the language you choose is the development talent you hire. In this regard you should take into consideration the state of your business. If you’re a DIY Entrepreneur and want to take a crack at developing with Drupal then PHP is clearly the preferred option over ASP.NET as it’s the language that comes with the lowest learning curve.
If you’re looking to hire a lead developer or a development team to build an advanced web application then you should defer to the best available talent. Whether that talent works in PHP or ASP.NET should only matter if your company culture veers towards using one language or the other already.
While detractors of PHP will point to the fact that it, as a language, is more clunky than ASP.NET, this will only show itself as a weakness to your overall web framework if you hire clunky PHP developers. Likewise, the fact that ASP.NET is more of a demanding language than PHP doesn’t mean that you’re automatically more likely to find better talent within the ASP.NET development pool.
Because PHP is open source its pool of developers is far larger than ASP.NET (which is windows based). Both boast vibrant communities that post regularly to online forums, so if you’re looking for answers to problems, you’re likely to find both communities helpful. That being said, while the ASP.NET community is comprised of dedicated developers there are quite a few less support contributors who are willing and able to post to forums and answer questions about ASP.NET challenges.
In contrast to this, PHP is such a widely used language that there are plenty of friendly web developers active on different forums who are more than willing to offer free advice and guidance to those who ask for it. The biggest take away here is that while you’ll most likely be able to find answers to your questions in both communities, you’ll almost assuredly get those answers back more quickly when working within PHP forums.
This is the only area where PHP owns a distinct advantage over ASP.NET. PHP is open source, and thus, completely free, while ASP.NET is owned by Microsoft and comes with a web hosting fee. However, the costs of those fees shouldn’t be exorbitant enough to deter you from hiring best in class talent in the ASP.NET pool if you’re already leaning that way. Also worth noting here is that PHP can be used on Mac, Windows, or Linux machines while ASP.NET is only meant to be run on Windows machines. That being said if you use a Mac or Linux you can use the Mono project to use ASP.NET.
Enterprise software refers to the applications and software systems developed or commissioned internally by companies. They are either tailor-made from scratch or purchased from third-party vendors and heavily customized for an organization’s business.
Up until the mid-1970’s just about all applications were limited to enterprises, due to the fact that enterprises were the only ones that could afford computers. Organizations such as Oracle, SAS and J.D. Edwards were the early movers when it came to delivering powerful database and accounting software solutions.
In recent years, cloud computing and Software as a Service (SaaS) offerings like Salesforce have shaken up the enterprise application space. Yet despite such innovation the traditional issues of developing and introducing an enterprise application into a business remains relatively the same.
Enterprise applications are categorized according to the business functions they cater to. A key feature of a web application is its ability to integrate data from different business processes for an organization. This is the reason web applications are able to provide a holistic and real-time view of the entire enterprise.
Some of the major product categories and solution sets of enterprise applications are listed below:
There are a host of other web application categories that span multiple divisions in an organization and cater to a wide range of customer groups. For example, the SAP Business Suite is a leading ERP package that is used within a large number of industries ranging from aerospace and telecommunications, to banking and industrial manufacturing.
In his book "Enterprise Information Systems: Contemporary Trends and Issues," David Olson, a renowned enterprise systems educator, stated that:
"Enterprise systems integrate a number of different applications, formats and protocols. In doing so, an enterprise systems allow companies to integrate many business processes, such as sales and accounts receivable."
Enterprise applications add a degree of automation to the implementation of business processes as well as supporting tasks such as data analysis, data planning and data management. For example, the ERP system has integrated software modules such as sales, accounts receivable and quality management for communicating and sharing data.
As an example the sales modules within ERP systems include applications necessary to create and manage sales contracts, orders, and invoices. Essentially all of these modules consist of multiple applications that can automatically perform the functions required to execute business processes.
When transactions for a specific product type outpace the current inventory levels, an ERP system can automatically process a request for inventory as the demand grows. Enterprise systems also enable a business to reduce the manual input of data and lessen the cost of information technology.
However, there are always certain generic challenges while implementing enterprise solutions. Depending on the sector in which the enterprise operates in, the extent of complications vary.
Appropriate training of employees is essential during and after the implementation of enterprise web applications. They should be comfortable using them or else operational inefficiencies will arise resulting in a lot of redundant work. It is also very important that implementation of enterprise applications be done in stages. Trying to implement everything all at once will lead to a lot of chaos and confusion.
The end-users of an enterprise application may not feel comfortable using the system. Resistance to the new system can lead to a drastic dependence on IT specialists, or an under-utilization of the enterprise system. To avoid this issue, enterprises must focus on listening to users. There should also be a significant amount of initial training dedicated to users during and after the initial deployment.
Prevalence of social and cloud technology combined with the proliferation of mobile devices have profoundly altered consumer expectations regarding web experiences.
Well beyond the point of trending buzzwords, mobile, cloud and social are becoming legitimate revenue drivers. Businesses across the globe are infusing digital marketing, enterprise applications and customer experience strategies with these three technologies. To assist you in optimizing the incorporation of these trends, we’ve assembled a breakdown of how social, mobile and cloud technology has changed web development.
A social media strategy is essential for all organizations. With over a billion users, online social networks are the new go-to places for advice on what to buy, where to buy and even where to work. While most industries use social media for connecting with customers, many have now invested in using social media for sales and marketing through the web.
The lure of ads, feeds and contests in social media channels are making Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn an ideal place for marketing. When it comes to Facebook and Twitter, B2C companies are ideal. While LinkedIn, being a professional social networking site, is ideal for B2B. These sites are a daily destination for millions of consumers who spend an average of 37 minutes per day on these channels.
This results in millions of eyeballs for every ad or sponsored update. Incorporating social media into a web strategy is crucial. Content Management Systems (CMS) are necessary for fluid updating and creation of content. With an easier way to publish intriguing content on a website, the more likely a brand is to drive referrals from social media by sharing that content.
By driving referrals from social networks with interesting content created by a CMS on a brands website, businesses can embrace social and drive lead generation, referral traffic, and revenue. Businesses in the future need to integrate their social media efforts with their web development strategies and commit the necessary time and resources needed for ROI.
Mobile websites rather than desktop sites will now be boilerplate for companies in 2014. The goal for many companies should be to design mobile websites with Responsive Web Design (RWD) that are uncomplicated, simple to use and easy to navigate. The User Experience (UX) goals are especially important when it comes to smartphone users accessing a site from anywhere and any context.
The more complex a mobile site, the more likely consumers will be to disregard it and move on to simpler more navigable sites. Remember that 88% of U.S. consumers use mobile as a second screen while shopping. It is essential that mobile websites aren’t overloaded with useless functionality. Ideally a brand’s mobile app will augment the in-store shopping experience or help immerse a physical shopper in the in-store experience.
The goal for many companies should be to design mobile sites that are simple to use and navigate on multiple platforms. For instance, HTML5 developers can create HTML5 web applications that are accessible from a desktop, smartphone or tablet. This stands in contrast to developing native apps that only work on a single device (built on iOS, Android, or Windows 8).
Cloud computing has advanced into a powerful business tool for both global enterprises and small businesses alike. According to Gartner, the cloud is changing the way web applications are designed, tested and deployed, resulting in a significant shift in application development priorities. It has and will become an effective new technology for building applications that reach new markets as well as empower workers to streamline operations.
The cloud is being used for a multitude of web development efforts and businesses are using the cloud to host web applications available for customers and employees. Data can be stored on the cloud using a web application, avoiding any unnecessary load on hardware. Employees can open a web application on any device (tablet, PC, or smartphone). There are also options to store information from reports and emails offline within a browser using HTML5.
A recent Forrester survey confirms that 55% of firms are considering private cloud as a top infrastructure priority and that 31% plan to adopt public cloud in the form of Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) in the coming year.
When it comes to web development, the majority trends will be driven by opportunity in social, mobile, and cloud technologies. Integration and confluence of these technologies will form the bedrock of future solutions and approaches to websites and web applications. These supplementary web technologies will provide businesses with multiple options for connecting with target markets and engaging with customers online.
With its ultra-convenience and mass appeal, e-commerce has changed the retail landscape for the better. But that doesn’t mean that E-retailers should stop seeking new and exciting ways to improve their services. For as great as online shopping can be, there’s also something special about the experience of walking into a bookstore, ruffling through a used book and taking in the scent of a dusty page.
The internet is a bastion of customer convenience, but if retailers want to create a profound and memorable customer experience, they need to work harder than their brick-and-mortar counterparts.
In Icreon’s partnership with bath and body product retailer Sabon, it wasn't enough to develop a by-the-numbers E-Commerce website—if it was ever going to do the physical products justice, the site would need to feel like a bona fide luxury experience.
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.
Here are five ways we helped breathe boutique life into Sabon’s online customer experience:
When you’re a boutique bath and body product retailer like Sabon, you pride your business on customer experience. Upon visiting their website, you’ll see this pride translated into an online format. White space draws attention to the products, channelling the peaceful comfort of the physical store. At the same time, visitors to the site always have a grasp on exactly what they’re looking at. There’s no way to get lost, because the entire store is always just a click away.
Whenever a customer leaves the physical store, they're still thinking about how revitalized the products have made them feel. When customers leave Sabon’s site, the goal is for them to remember how refreshing their experience felt.
When you sell soaps and lotions and oils, you have to appeal to your customers’ senses. In a physical space, this is easy. You let them smell the soap, you let them try out the lotion. But on the web, you have to compensate by capturing different senses.
Let your users zoom in on a product so they feel like they’re interacting with it. Write captivating flavor text. You can’t show off your product directly, but there’s no reason to deny customers the next best thing.
The internet has a reputation for degrading customer service, and retailers have to go to great lengths to adjust. Wherever an employee would interact with a customer in a physical store, you have to make sure your ecommerce site is stepping in to fill that void.
Sabon’s homepage guides users by telling them what’s popular, what’s on sale, and where to find everything in the store. Sabon knows that their customers want products that are compatible with their complexion, so they categorize products by “Skin Type.” Think about what your customers are looking for when they go into your shop, and address those problems directly in the design of the web application.
We already know that the online experience can’t match the in-store experience, but the true challenge for the E-Commerce site is to go the extra mile to try and close that gap.
To make up for what’s lost in the online customer experience, Sabon’s site uses a constant loop of promotions and calls to action that give customers a sense of added value. They can’t see the products in-person, but they can get them shipped for free, and Sabon even offers gift wrapping to bump up the experience to that next rung on the ladder.
The interplay between online store and brick-and-mortar experience is a delicate tightrope, and every business has to walk it in their own way. Tilt too far one way, and you’ll make the physical shop irrelevant. Lean too far in the other direction, and your site may slowly wither away. For Sabon, the goal was to provide as delightful an E-Commerce experience as possible, while still encouraging visitors to check out the physical products for themselves.
All too often, we see E-Commerce sites skimp on this step by making store locations feel like cookie-cutter franchise operations. Sabon gives customers a sense of direction and an actionable first step by placing all of the store locations within the Google Maps API. By providing unique images for each location and specific directions on how to get there, any retailer with a brick-and-mortar offering can make each store feel like a distinct place with an identity of its own.