The Future of Development at 70kft

Next-level Web Development

Industry

Best Web Development in Dallas with 70kft Development Director Jeremy Williams

In life, not all things are created equal. The Web is no exception. While there is no “perfect code,” websites should not strive to fit into some ideal mold. Rather than be average, all websites have the potential to be “next-level” awesome. From a development standpoint, there exists a long-unordered list of contributors to the sum total of your website. When you put on your nerd goggles and gaze at your website, will you see either mediocrity or epic badassery. Today, I’d like to call out a few notable items on the aforementioned list that lead to the latter: speed, validation, versioning and “new things.”

Faster is better.

Average development doesn’t worry about page load speed. Next-level development considers page load speed from the first commit until launch. Google has created a wonderful tool to point out areas where you can improve your sites’ load times. Some easy wins are image optimization with tools like ImageOptim, combining and minifying your css and JavaScript files, and using caching both server side and in the browser.

If you use Wordpress you’ll have to find a plugin that combines your js files. Wordpress websites commonly have an obnoxious number of js files.

The fewer files that need to be downloaded the better, as browsers will commonly limit concurrent downloads to 8 or less per domain. That slows down page load since you have to wait for a file to finish downloading before it will start downloading the next required file. Another way to deal with this is to have some of your files load from a different domain such as a CDN (content delivery network). If you have two domains and 16 files to download split evenly between domains, all 16 files potentially can be downloaded concurrently. More about that.

Validate that shiznit.

A common oversight with average web development is validation. HTML, CSS and JS should be validated with tools like http://validator.w3.org/ for HTML, http://jigsaw.w3.org/css-validator/ for CSS, and gjslint for JavaScript. Why should you validate? There many good reasons but I have my favorites. Reason No. 1, it makes you a better developer because you’ll gain understanding of what you’re doing and why it works (or doesn’t). Reason No. 2, it occasionally solves weird cross-browser problems. Some browsers are more forgiving about one thing or another when it comes to kludge in your code. You could spend hours trying to figure out why some feature doesn’t work in Firefox. Or, you could spend a few minutes validating your markup and find that those bugs magically vanish.

Git all the things.

If you aren’t using version control, you’re doing it wrong. In times of old, developers had to version their files by changing the file name. That works a little bit but it’s not very scalable or intelligent. Whether you use Git, Subversion, Mercurial, Perforce or some other flavor, you enjoy the ability to track who did what, when, where, and you can roll back changes if things break. It’s also a great way to add peer code review to your team, which ultimately makes everyone a better developer and improves overall code quality.

Do the new thing.

HTML5 brought us good gifts of Internet sorcery, but you have to read the manuscripts and convince your designers to allow you to cast your new dark arts. With great power comes great responsibility … to QA and test in all the browsers both desktop and mobile. Your slick canvas may impress on the latest Chrome browser but don’t forget to gracefully degrade the experience if you aren’t progressively enhancing.

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