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Custom Web Development Ramblings

Responsive Web Design and Its Impact on SEO

31

October
2013
Posted By : Tamara Comments (5)

Responsive Web Design (RWD) is becoming more and more common today. And there is a reason that it is no longer an OPTION when building a website. It is very important from both a user experience and an SEO perspective. It is important to remember, that the web pages that are viewed through Internet web browsers get instructions to display the text, images and links from HTML, which can be written “by hand” using text editors, or it can be “generated” by web languages like PHP and ASP, which are created by web developers. It is often the case that websites viewed through different lenses appear differently. A website viewed through a laptop won’t look the same as it will on an iPhone. Mobile websites are often more simple designs, and require less load times (Google guidelines for mobile sites say a homepage should load in 1 second or less). This makes sense since bandwidth is often more precious on a mobile device than it is on a hard-wired network like a cable modem connection. What responsive design does is amend the site to whatever device/screen it is being displayed on. Now the website will look (nearly) identical no matter which device displays it. All the content will be displayed on whatever screen it is queried to display upon, but it may appear in a different order, or up to down on a mobile browser, and side to side on a desktop browser. Responsive design uses the same HTML to display the content on any browser, but uses CSS instructions to display the content in such a way that is ideal for the browser/screen displaying it. How does this all play into SEO? Well, for one Google recommends in its guidelines for smartphones that RWD be used to serve content to smartphone browsers. And another thing to take note of is if you do NOT use Responsive Design, and have something like desktop HTML pages and mobile HTML pages, you might have duplicate content and Google may potentially penalize you for having the same content twice on your domain. So steps must be taken to tell the search engines not to index the duplicate pages. Other factors which come into play are the bounce rate of Google users is higher when they are directed towards a site that they cannot properly browse or appears to “not fit” on their screen. According to this article, 61% of visitors will return to Google if this happens. A responsive design will assure a lower bounce rate since your users will be able to see the content for which they are searching. There is no doubt; if your site traffic is more than 25% Mobile and Tablet you should definitely convert your site using RWD.

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Categories : Responsive Design | SEO

Today's Web Development, All You Need Is One Developer... Plus a Bunch of Other People

21

May
2013
Posted By : Brandon Spilove Comments (4)

There was a time when life for the custom web developer was simpler. Internet Explorer was the only web browser that mattered, the others all had less than significant market share. PCs reigned supreme as well, Mac was rarely considered for compatibility. Most things could be accomplished by a single web developer with a moderate skillset. At worst, we'd have to bring in a graphic designer just to pretty things up a bit, but for the most part, the web developer could take care of everything else. Today, things are much different. Internet Explorer is no longer the only web browser that matters, there are at least 3 others with very significant market share (Firefox, Chrome, Safari). And in fact, Internet Explorer has gone from king of the heap to bane of existence for most. It is the least consistent browser among the whole lot. So even if you are only developing for IE, you still need to develop for IE7, IE8, IE9 and IE10 because all behave differently when rendering the same page of HTML code. But, just as important as compatibility among all the web browsers of today is the need to be compatible across the landscape of mobile devices. There's iPhone, iPad, Android, various tablets, Kindle Fire, Blackberry, and so forth. Not to mention, each platform has its own different version inconsistencies and screen resolution non-conformity and lack of support for Flash and other plugins. Web applications are also hosted in the Cloud now, all of which make for some incredible challenges for today's web developer. So how does a web developer keep up with all of these things and still deliver a solid product that works universally and is scalable and efficient? Well, if you ask me, this is too much to ask of one developer. For an average size web application with 25 screens and typical cross platform requirements, you should figure on at least 1 front end developer, 1 back end developer, 1 web designer, 1 tester, 1 project manager, 1 SEO expert, and 1 account rep. Not to mention, you need a lab with PC's from Windows XP through Windows 8 with different combinations of web browsers installed, a Mac with OSX installed, an iPhone, Android, and a few tablets of varying sizes and OS versions. Oh, you want a mobile app, you'll need an Objective C developer and a Java developer to build Apple and Android apps too! Well that certainly is a lot, but the more the landscape of hardware and software keeps fragmenting, the more people and testing hardware will be needed to make sure it all works. The days of simple web development are over. Today's world is complicated, incompatible, and challenging. The average, general purpose web developers of yesterday are getting left behind for more specialized, more senior developers who are part of a large team. If you're in the market for a web development team, make sure you do your research and find out exactly how big the team is and what capabilities they have before getting started.  

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Categories : ASP.Net | Web Development

Outsourcing Web Development, Why Not Just Hire Your Own Developers?

25

April
2013
Posted By : Brandon Spilove Comments (3)

Generally speaking, there are 2 types of outsourced web development. First is outsourcing to a foreign country, which includes those that are completely in another country and those where the developers are located elsewhere but there may be a few sales people here in the US. Second is outsourcing to a fully US based company. The first type of outsourcing should not be considered at all, I'll explain in more detail in a future blog post. But the second type of outsourcing, where you outsource to a US based company, is highly preferred over hiring your own developers. Let's explore the reasons in detail. Before we begin the discussion, it is important to understand the current state of the web development industry. Web developers are in extremely high demand right now. So much so that there is virtually 0% unemployment among web developers, application programmers, and related individuals. Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and other large tech companies are hiring web developers at unprecedented rates. They are recruiting college kids directly from the campus, basically sucking up all of the talent in the country. On top of that, here in the US we have a lack of investment in math and science education, and are currently graduating very few Computer Science majors when compared to other countries like India and China. So if you're looking to hire your own web developers, you are going to be competing against companies like Google and Apple (and thousands more) for talent. A lot of these companies have alternate work environments, arcades, movie theaters, giant fish tanks, indoor golf courses, paid meals, and the list goes on and on. You will need to pay very high salaries to get someone above average. If you find a web developer, you'll need to find a way to manage them. Most web developers need direction and guidance. The problem is that there are just too many ways to build websites and web applications. There are too many different platforms, too many 3rd party tools, too many types of servers and hosting, too many security issues, too many web browsers and mobile devices, etc. You need a manager, someone who can sift through all of the needs of the business and figure out the best way to architect the applications. The manager is also tasked with making sure the developer stays focused and motivated. Many web developers get bored if they are working on the same application or website for a long time. Let's say you've forged ahead, hired a web developer and you have someone to manage them and provide guidance. It's a year down the road and you have a business application that has now become critical to your company. Everything is going great, and then the developer comes into work one day and gives a resignation notice. Panic sets in. You now need to start looking for a replacement, and you probably won't be able to find somebody good and get them hired within 2 weeks. There's a lot of knowledge stuck in your developer's head, and you need to use these last days trying to extract that information and get it documented or otherwise transferred to someone else. Then when the replacement starts, you need invest the time to train them and get them up to speed on your critical application. Your new developer doesn't like the way your old developer did things, and so s/he starts changing around the code and implementing things differently. The plan is to eventually migrate the entire application to a new architecture that your new developer has constructed. But other priorities keep coming up and the application never fully gets converted. Then one day the inevitable happens and your new developer presents you with a resignation letter. If you do find yet another developer to replace the one that just left, they now have the difficult job of navigating through your application and trying to decipher the code that is now half rewritten. This proves difficult, and so they just continue to maintain the code as is while adding new functionality to support your business. Some new technologies have come out recently, and so the developer is implementing the new functionality using yet an even newer architecture. Not to mention the fact that you now need a mobile app, and your developer has no experience developing mobile apps. So now you need to hire a mobile app developer. Mobile app developers are in even higher demand than normal application/web developers. If you're serious about running your company on solid custom applications, then the above scenario should be something to avoid. You need to invest in your business and its growth and your employees and getting involved in the details of application development is just too daunting, expensive, and futile. It's just not something that you'll ever catch up on. Technology keeps changing, computers keep changing, and it's incredibly difficult to stay current and keep up with all of the competition, while continuing to provide training and growth for your development team. Instead of hiring your own developers, you should outsource to a company that can handle all of the changes in technology for you. After all, your company is not a web development company, so why get into web development? Building web applications is a complex task, and generally requires multiple people of different talents. These days, a typical web development team is made up of a front end developer, a javascript/ux programmer, a back end developer, a database developer, a mobile app developer, a QA team, a graphic designer, and an application architect. You can't get away with a single developer anymore, not if you want to compete and be relevant and impress your customers. Just make sure to outsource to an American company, where quality is high, communication is easy, and motivation is second to none. In fact, if you're reading this, you've already found one!  

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Categories : Outsourcing | Web Development

Budgeting for Custom Web Development Projects

27

March
2013
Posted By : Brandon Spilove Comments (1)

Every custom web application development project has a budget, even if you think you don't know it or don't want to say what it is. It is important for you and your web development company to understand what the finances are so that we can do the best job possible for you. After all, the goal of your project is most likely to create revenue either directly or indirectly, and your business plan should outline this in detail. The initial investment you can make into your project will play a major factor in the viability of your idea. [More]

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Categories : Web Development

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