COMMISSIONING EXILE STUDIO
FOR YOUR FIRST WEB PROJECT
Given the relative complexities of contemporary websites, it can really be a confusing time for a business to commission their first web project. The walls of acronyms, insider jargon and double speak make it a difficult learning curve to get a solid foothold. We can help you demystify the whole process and translate the jargon into plain English
COMMISSIONING A WEB PROJECT
Here are some common questions that we have been asked in the past. These questions may be relevant for you to consider when hiring a web agency. Keep in mind that not all websites are created equal, and not all web agencies are either.
There is great value in finding an agency or freelancer to fit your personality. As you may be working together for a long period of time, a personal rapport should not be underestimated. Some collaborations never really end as there will always be the need for changes and updates as time goes on.
We pride ourselves in the great relationships we build with our clients. We would like to get to know you well, so that we can proactively get to the best solutions. In fact, some of our longest standing clients have been with us for 7 years and counting!
Always be wary of the so called “digital” agencies that are very generalized. Many design, marketing and print agencies masquerade in this way as a method of jumping on the bandwagon without doing any specialization or having the expertise to come up with unique solutions.
It is our strongly held belief that a dedicated team of web specialists who hone their skill every day at the sharp end of the web design business, are best positioned to keep pace and innovate within the fast paced world of the internet.
Some companies take in all the work they can get their hands on, then later worry about getting it done. They may only do design portions of a site and get a freelancer to do the development work.
We may be dubbed control freaks by some, but in our estimation, the best websites are made by teams that possess all the expertise in-house. Working as a team ensures better communication and cohesiveness in the design. Everybody is reading from the same page instead of different chapters crudely pieced together. It also gives you the assurance that during the support phase, we can get right down to it instead of reverting back and forth with different parties before a solution is forthcoming.
Websites have to be designed to be accessible to as broad a set of people possible. As developers, we care about writing meaningful and valid code that is built to industry standards.
At Exile Studio, we know that high quality code will be easier to maintain, has a greater reach of customers and is a great and robust platform for what the future may bring.
It may interest you to know that Google factors in page load times in its ranking algorithm. Thus it should come as no surprise that a fast response time is a crucial aspect of web visibility. Having a fast site also gives your customers a better and more satisfying user experience. Projected high traffic numbers should also be taken into account because there is a fine balancing act between optimization and design. Premature optimization can have adverse effects on the design of the website, adding complexity and as a side effect, creating vulnerabilities for bugs that can be time and cost intensive to debug. Lazy developers will often tend to recommend a hardware upgrade to deal with speed/capacity issues. We believe that we can explore other options in coding and optimization, so that you do not have to do costly hardware upgrades to solve the problem.
Special features like implementing caching technologies may not be as complicated as you think. Your business and budget may be small, but that is of no consequence when it comes to using the latest technologies as implemented by some of the busiest and well known websites. On the internet, your site can be as good as or even better than anyone.
Some SEO implementers use dirty tricks to get to the top of search listings. This they do by writing automated scripts/bots to add links to their sites on other high ranking and high traffic sites as well as paying other people to do it for them. There are always ways in which an honest approach to compete against these “black hat” techniques. Examples are keyword analysis that allows you to better target your website and adverts to the prospective audience.
We have always taken a firm “white hat” approach when it comes to dealing with these issues. Though this may be a longer road, you can rest assured that your page will not suddenly be dropped by Google due to any violations. This means that your customers will always have a dependable connection to your website, which more than pays itself in the long run.
Though modern web browsers are excellent in displaying all manner of content, older ones may display your page in their own unique way. This can lead to a broken looking website to your visitors without you even knowing it.
We have had much experience in supporting older and less common browsers and are happy to discuss any specific support requirements that you may have.
Now that smartphones and tablets are common tools to browse the internet, it makes sense for your site to be equally as accessible as it is on the computer. Do not assume that you need to create another version of your website to tap into this market. A simple mobile style sheet may be all that's needed to properly format your page and provide a tailored feel, regardless of screen size.
We use HTML5 technologies wherever possible to build websites, so platforms that do not support Flash, like most Apple products, do not hold our sites background
It is inevitable that at some point due to unforeseen circumstances, the website can fail. Preparing for this eventuality is a realistic response. An experienced software development team will always be well prepared to deal with the issues, being equipped as they are with accumulated problem solving skills, tools and the right attitude to solve these problems at its root cause.
We think that when this happens, automatic notifications are essential. Whenever a system error is triggered by the user, the developers should know about it and be in the position to nip it in the bud, ensuring that less users are affected by the issue. Process monitors should be run on the server to keep it alive and well. Larger applications can make effective use of software services such as New Relic that can provide real-time information on system load and can automatically notify you when your site experiences high traffic spikes.
Test-driven development has gained acceptance as the best way to write web applications. The application developer first writes a test for each function then produces code that passes it. The benefits of this method is that bugs can be caught earlier in the developmental cycle where they are less harmful. Code can also be easily refactored safe in the knowledge that existing functionality is not being broken.
Having the ability to develop and test new features of your website before the changes go live is absolutely critical. Source contol systems such as Git make it easier to manage multiple versions of the code, even as it is being developed concurrently. These systems enable a greater organization of multi-developer projects as they allow access and work to be done on the same files at the same time from any location. Source control also enables your code to be kept safe and an easy reversion to previous versions.
A stale website will perform poorly in search engines and do not encourage repeat visitors. Some developers utilize existing self-publishing systems such as Wordpress, Expression Engine, Joomla etc. as a content management system (CMS) and customize only the public facing design. This can work adequately if you are on a tight budget and do not have complicated requirements. However, when extra functionality is needed, it can be extremely limiting.
In most cases we will build a custom CMS that captures your exact requirements and will perform the functions that was specified. As CMS can restrict the flexibility of website design, when they gain in complexity, the expense of the system will rise proportionally. In this, the right balance must be struck between cost and functionality. While manual content updates made by your developers will cost you by the hour, having added CMS functionality when it is not always needed may actually cost you more.
Typically, we will make a recommendation for web hosting, though the ultimate decision is yours in the end. Many companies choose to host their own site and with proper in-house expertise, the solution can work very well.
Shared servers are where an external hosting company will undertake the hosting and maintenance on your behalf, with limited service support. There are usually some restrictions with this set up and we can help consult you on their pros and cons.
Dedicated hosting is a more expensive option but allows you full control of the server. This solution may be excessive for some smaller applications though, and may make things more costly and complicated than needed. The full control may be useful for advanced and specialized applications. We prefer using hosting companies like Heroku and Rackspace that provide one of the industry's most reliable dedicated service tailored to your requirements, even if they are not the cheapest form of hosting available.