Building A Solid Website Foundation
When building a new website, dependability, flexibility, scalability and performance are all important things to consider before writing a single line of code. You need your website to work 100% of the time, and you need it to be easily accessible and usable by your audience and other 3rd party technologies. However, things are always changing in technology and in business. So, there needs to be a high level of efficiency and organization to allow for alterations and growth. And it needs to be fast. It sounds like a tall order, so here are some things to consider before your next web development project.
Content Management Systems
One of the first questions you should ask yourself is whether you need a Content Management System (CMS). The short answer is yes. Depending on the size and scope of the website, you may choose to build a static site, but if it’s more than a couple pages, there are significant advantages to using a Content Management System. Large web projects require a considerable amount of organization that can be provided by a good CMS. Creating and implementing the content and media that is required to grow your site takes almost no previous technical knowledge. Lastly, any good CMS has a vast online community that will continue to update and improve the core code used to generate your site.
Accessibility in Web Development
Getting people to find your site is only half the battle; now you have to make it easy for them to find what they are looking for or else they’ll leave. Accessibility is the user’s ability to reach your website and the content within it. Clean code and proper syntax can have a huge impact on a site’s ability to be crawled by search engines, viewed on mobile devices, and used by the disabled. Site speed and properly optimized media are also common issues that come up when working through accessibility issues. Of all the design elements, navigation and site architecture will have the biggest impact on accessibility. It is very important that your design and web development team work in tandem to solve any accessibility issues that may arise.
Modular Web Development
We used to look at websites in terms of page templates, however we’ve found that planning a build around features instead of templates allows for greater flexibility and efficiency. Some pages share similar or, in many cases, the same functionality, with only a few differences. Building in a modular system allows us to write the code only once and reuse it all over the site. This is also very helpful in preserving the dependability of the code when needing to update a function that lives on multiple pages of the site. Modular web development is a key component in scalability since adding new feature won’t affect old ones. Developing with modules is also very helpful in creating a seamless multi-developer environment.
Most people believe that SEO is some mystical power that an expensive agency guru can conjure up. To be honest, most organic search optimization has to do with website syntax and a strong content strategy. If anyone tells you differently, they are probably just using your money to buy ads and irrelevant backlinks. True SEO is done by setting up the proper page metadata, including data structures in your syntax, strategic linking and using the markup to control content hierarchy instead of visual styles. There are plenty of good options for setting up your metadata with a CMS like WordPress. We use an SEO plugin called Yoast. Data structures are a little more complex, but your developer should have a strong understanding of how to implement them. The rest comes down to linking your pages to related content and formatting content to emphasize its importance, not just the way it appears on the page.
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