Everyone runs into a web development crisis at some point while working on a project. Either it goes over budget, you find unexpected security flaws, or you just run into a roadblock that keeps you from creating the kind of site you want your clients and users to appreciate. Knowing some tricks to overcome common web development problems can help you mitigate them before they appear.
Basic information about your site should be easily available for anyone who navigates to it. Even people who aren’t web-savvy should be able to find it. When you’re working on developing a site, make sure you have a plan for your user experience. It’s one of the major factors that determines how successful the site is.
Sometimes it’s tempting to use cutting-edge development tools and features when the old standbys will do just as well. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t use modern technology or make the site you’re developing interesting and interactive. Just be aware of your audience and their capabilities. If you sit down early and make a plan for how a user will navigate the site, you might be able to avoid any problems that you have to later spend time to correct.
You can’t design a site for every device that a person is going to access it on — that’s why responsive design is so important. If you aren’t planning for a responsive site now, consider going back and including those options. Responsive design is a type of design that allows the site to adapt to the device on which a person is viewing it. It’s important because a standard design might look great on a browser, but will appear messy and not optimized on a mobile device.
Not only does responsive design act as a positive ranking signal for SEO purposes, but it also improves user experience. If a user on iOS, a user on Android, and someone logging in from a computer browser can all view an optimized, professional site that reacts to their device by displaying things in the proper size, then they’re going to enjoy being on your site more.
Before starting your design process, it’s essential to know what you want to add to your site. For example, if you’re making an e-commerce site, you’ll have to include places on the site for listings, a cart, a payment processor, and perhaps a place to leave reviews. Knowing everything you want to add at the beginning of the process will help you design your site more cleanly because you can be aware of how everything will fit.
Think of it this way — if you’re putting together a puzzle, you want to have an idea of how the final design will look. If you just start putting pieces together, it’s going to be much harder to achieve a positive final product. It’s the same for web development. Knowing what pieces you have and how you want the final product to look from the beginning will guide your process and help you create a better website.
As Demir Selmanovic of Toptal points out, you absolutely have to authorize everything a user on your site does. When someone logs in, you might think that’s enough verification of their identity to access everything they’re entitled to. It’s not that simple, though. Once a person is logged in, a little tech know-how might allow them to access things they aren’t authorized to see or change.
If you make sure that you authorize each type of user input or action on your site, you’re going to have less security vulnerabilities. Just identifying a user when they log in isn’t enough — you need to make sure that you’re managing permissions for the user while they’re logged in as well. A little time now can save you and your users a lot of problems down the road.
Taking shortcuts isn’t always smart — but sometimes they can save time without cutting any corners. If there are tasks you’re doing by hand, consider checking to see whether there are any tasks you can do that will save time. For example, you can convert PSD to HTML online and save yourself the trouble of having to do it by hand.
You should never take a shortcut that makes your work worse. At the same time, though, there are plenty of shortcuts that will give you additional time on the parts of your work that need a personal touch. As you find shortcuts that benefit your workflow, make sure to keep a note of them so that you can go back and use them again.
One thing that always holds true when it comes to web development is that clients might not expect what different options cost. It’s important to create a budget early on and make sure each person you work for understands how the price will change if they decide they want something else later on.
One way to do that is to create a budget showing how different options affect the price. It makes your expectations clear and helps your client to understand up front whether they can afford what they’re asking for. There’s a major difference between developing a basic informative homepage and creating a site with a mobile app that requires forums, sign ups, or file sharing. If your client wants a custom CSS navigation menu, explain from the beginning that it will cost more than using something stock.
Whether you’re finding great shortcuts to save time or saving yourself a heap of trouble later by setting up budgets for your clients, a little planning will save hours of frustration. The most important thing you can do is sit down and plan your project from beginning to end before you actually begin doing the development work itself. That way you’re aware of problems that can arise and are ready to respond to them if and when they occur.