Web Development

“Adventure. Excitement. A Jedi craves not these things.” - Yoda

The internet has given us a lifestyle we will probably be remembered for. We have created data science based on the digital information distribution, we have restructured the world financial system, reinvented the way we meet partners in life, created new sports, and new warfare. We have eyewitnessed every single monumental event for the past thirty years. We are close to having a generation of working people who haven’t spend a day of their life offline. And we are only getting started.

The web has entangled us while driving a wedge in our perception of ourselves. It gave everyone a voice thus creating a massive rumpus where no one is heard anymore.

Yet, the internet is for people by people. It is the only place where everyone can be everything. And before the next stage of evolution contorts the internet as we know it, let’s get a snapshot of how it works today. The main thing the internet gave us is unlimited access to information. A TV program would be timed and scripted, a book would be proofread and approved by someone whose job is to script and proofread.

Everything you put out is there. The darkest acts sit alongside the best the people can offer. It’s a gargantuan pile of information and the only currency it requires from you is your time.

Learning anything on the internet is hard. First off, it seems like you are on a raft in the ocean. However, on the internet, you are surrounded by people.

People made the internet and keep making it. We are web designers and web developers, but our clients are business owners and inventors from the brick-and-mortar realm. This guide is for them.

A battle-ready Development Team
Building for crazy startups and reputable businesses.

01
Core Aspects

Web development or website development is a range of works that goes into making a website. Any page or a complex system that runs in the browser qualifies for web development. The bigger the platform, the more divergent teams it involves.

Development Practices

Teams divide by development practices with different tasks and abilities:

  • Front-end web development is building a user-facing part of the site.

  • Back-end web development is building a server and automation part.

  • Full-stack development is building both the server and the client sides at once.

The tasks are interdisciplinary and most developers acquire mixed skills and play multiple roles in different projects.

The front end is about the way the website looks, feels and understands a user. The back end is how the website communicates with other machines.

Website construction consists of web design and development, copywriting, testing, and search engine optimization. On every stage of website development, coders communicate with other teams and daily implement subtle features used in custom web development.

Back to Front

Programming Languages

Like other digital products, websites run on code. Code is written in a programming language of which there are many. A programming language follows the rules similar to those of a real language with its grammar rules, punctuation, and syntax.

Developers translate coding languages into workable features.

The choice of a programming language depends on the goals of the website and its style. A typical website has two categories of code – the front- and the back-end code written in different languages.

The front-end languages we use are HTML, CSS, JavaScript, ActionScript. The back-end languages are C#, Java, PHP, Python, Ruby, and Swift.

Since the back-end development practice is more complex and relies on automation, there are more languages and technologies for the back end.

In order for the browsers to deliver a consistent experience, the websites have to run on universal languages like JavaScript. That’s why the front-end stack is smaller.

Code frame

Web Frameworks

Web frameworks are the abstract ecosystems where the features can be changed and amplified in a flexible and efficient way. Frameworks support the development and automate the common activities in web development.

The web is complicated. To make a website work, we need to synchronize a lot of activities. Security adds another layer. UX design – another. Business logic – several others. There are edge cases and solutions. A developer has to keep in mind all of them. A framework helps reduce that load. A framework gives a website its conceptional structure.

The Ruby on Rails framework divides a feature into three parts: Controller, Model, and View. The View plain HTML with no logic. The Model is the business logic of the feature. The Controller turns web requests into commands on the Model, which are visible through the View.

A framework is what helps the developers concentrate on the process and not be distracted by the minutiae.

Like languages, there are front- and back-end frameworks as well.

Our front-end frameworks are React, Angular, Ember.js, and jQuery. Our back-end frameworks are Ruby on Rails and ASP.NET.

Real-time particles simulations in WebGL
Real-time particles simulations in WebGL by Federico Marino

Web Technologies & Infrastructure

Every website stores data. In order for the data to be accessible and relevant, it has to be structured. There needs to be a way to collect, save, store, retrieve, sort, graph, and manipulate the data of the website. Databases allow us to do this.

If a website registers customers and saves a part of their server space for them, the customer information has to be stored safely and pulled instantly upon request. Having data is not a problem but keeping it is. Spreadsheets and text docs don’t work with large numbers. Also, the data has to work which means it has to be integrated with other services.

We use relational database management systems for referential integrity between database tables, data, and transactions, are MySQL, PostgreSQL, and MongoDB.

To streamline the process of web development, we use infrastructure tools and a team of DevOps. They put a developer’s work into a different perspective by taking the lead on all the setup work, deployment, and optimization allowing a web developer to focus solely on feature implementation.

The infrastructure technologies we use are Redis, Nginx, Vagrant, Ansible, Docker, Capistrano, etc.

SQL database visualization
SQL database visualization by Northrop Grumman

APIs

Building complicated web applications requires a lot of resources in both hardware and workload. Behind every business automation, there are thousands of lines of code and multiple integrations of different technologies. Application Programming Interfaces or APIs allow us to unify different components of a web app and make them work together.

APIs help us simplify programming by abstracting the redundant implementation and only exposing objects or actions your business model needs.

APIs is how technology companies communicate with each other.

Through APIs, we can inject parts of tech giants’ fame into our client’s projects. It’s a trusted resource of functionality that we can entwine into your product to fit the needs of different customers.

We are traditionally using the APIs of these companies: Amazon, Google, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Foursquare, Paypal, Stripe, 2CO, Walletone, SendGrid, MailChimp, and ElasticEmail.

Beacon

Commercial Web Development

Even though a lot of web development technologies are based on computer science, web development is different. It is an expression of computer science but not entirely. Computer science is a mathematical discipline that relies on hardware to create machine algorithms and program architecture.

Web development is about using various data-based technologies to build applications that solve user tasks. Web development is 100% practical.

Computer science doesn’t have to be user-oriented as, like physics, it will exist regardless of our perception of it. Web development is science put in the service of the people. This makes web developers extremely specialized. Web development is about browsers, compatibility, speed, performance, and delight.

Whatever UI/UX designers come up with, has to be implemented in code and delivered fast and in its entirety to any person at any place with any connection and any computer. Though this might seem like a hell of a task, it still involves less theory than practical knowledge, skills, and experience. The abundance of tools keeps web developers active all the time and makes their stacks every bit of infinite and adjustable for the client’s needs.

Web Development

Web Development Timeline

What we see as websites and web applications in our desktop and phone browsers is the product of the HTML, CSS, and JavaScript technologies. However, there is a hidden part of web development that is as important as the visible part. At different stages of product development, we enlist the services of developers specializing in different aspects from ideation to maintenance.

So here are the basic stages of the web development timeline. The number of stages may vary depending on the intensity of a product, budget, and deadline but more or less revolve around the basic eight:

  • Ideation
  • Planning
  • Design
  • Content writing
  • Coding
  • Q&A
  • Launch
  • Maintenance & updates
Web Development

Ideation is a stage where the main portion of research and discovery happens before a single line of code is written, so some companies believe a developer’s presence is not necessary. We disagree and make sure the PM is using the developer’s output as one of the main resources factoring in the estimate. Different goals require different approaches and a developer knows which technology or practice will save money and time.

Planning is a stage that gives a client the first view of what they will be getting as an end product. It’s important to lay the groundwork of the actual website construction work by using a consistent vernacular and building the same mindset. Once the functionality is laid out, the developers can start putting together the high-level technology stack.

Content writing precedes and runs simultaneously with the design stage. To avoid discrepancy between the product’s or brand’s tone of voice and the visual part, writers create a style guide to follow on the later stages of production. This includes all the textual content of the website. We call it UX writing and it’s a fairly new but necessary part of modern web design.

Design is one of the most robust and delicate stages of the web development timeline. This is where the product first gets introduced to the stakeholders and it has to show the potential of accomplishing business goals. Depending on the complexity of the web application, the development may start mid-design or once the visual language is created and accepted by the client. This approach is one of the biggest attributes of the agile methodology.

Coding is the stage of putting the design to work. The development team gets introduced to the product here but the product is not a terra incognita for them. If a dev team lead takes part in ideation and planning, the team will know and have certain preparatory actions taken to transition to development smoothly. This is the actual core of web development and it’s separated between the two teams – front- and back-end ones. Even though they work autonomously, there is a lot of interaction between them and the design team as well.

Q&A or Testing or Debugging is a stage

A battle-ready Development Team
Building for crazy startups and reputable businesses.

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