The world of web development is still not entirely clear. We’ve even heard it referred to as “the dark art.” So, if you need help turning your ideas and vision into a quality website or web application, how do you know who to trust with the task?
The purpose of this post is to provide some key points about what makes a good website development company and to help you understand what questions you should be asking development companies.
This will be a very unusual post, and we make no apologies for that. If you disagree with anything, we are happy to discuss it with you.
Now to the actual contribution. Below are the main areas we will look at that you should look for in a web development company.
– The ability to do both front-end and back-end development.
– Do not specialize in one backend technology
– Must follow best practices
– Understanding of project-based marketing strategies
– Invests time in research and development
– Has a rigorous testing process, including automated testing
– Responds flexibly to changes
– Uses version control
Able to do both front-end and back-end development
We do not support the idea of developers doing front-end development and developers doing back-end development. This is similar to a plumber who only installs pipes and leaves the installation of bathtubs, showers, sinks, and toilets to someone else.
We agree that there is a separation between web developers and web designers, that’s a whole different thought process, but the separation between front-end and back-end is just wrong. To be a good web developer, you need to understand the entire development cycle and be able to work on a project from start to finish. There’s also a lot to learn when working with different technologies, but we’ll get into that later.
Don’t specialize in one backend technology
There are a number of good back-end technologies that are suitable for web development, including Ruby on Rails, ASP.Net, and PHP (among others). They all have their strengths and weaknesses, and none of them are perfect. A good web development company needs to be flexible in its choice of technologies in order to use the most appropriate ones for its clients’ needs.
The main reason we have taken the time to research different technologies is that we want to be able to choose the ones we like. Over the years, the developers involved in The League have managed to take the best aspects of each technology, formulate a set of best practices, and deploy them across platforms.
Follow best practices
The key to being a good web developer is not the technology you use, but the best practices you follow. As technology comes and goes in our very fast-paced industry, best practices persist or at least evolve. If you have good knowledge, you can easily keep up with the times and technology.
So what are these best practices we are talking about? Below are some of them that we follow.
– Writing semantic HTML
– Adherence to web standards for all external coding
– Automated testing of front-end and back-end code
– Use of the MVC framework
Understanding of project-specific marketing strategies
We’ve often heard the complaint that web developers don’t think about a project’s marketing strategy. This is usually because developers don’t care. But they should. How can they advise their clients and think about how to help them find the right solution if they don’t think about the “big picture” (sorry, we know that’s a terrible phrase, but we’re going to go and rinse our mouths out). If the developer is doing their job blindly, they are not providing a service to the customer, they are just a puppet.
The most important question a developer can ask is “Why?”. Take the time to fully understand the client’s requirements and consult with them, after all, the client doesn’t understand all the intricacies of web development, you do. Make the development cycle a two-way conversation.
Investing time in research and development
As we all know, the web industry is a very fast-moving industry. Things come and go in the blink of an eye. A good web development company takes time every week for its developers to research new trends and technologies. Of course, some of these trends and technologies are dead ends, but you never know until you study them.
If you want to know if a web development company knows what they’re doing, just ask them what their developers have been studying lately. You don’t have to understand everything they tell you, but write them down and do some research on the Internet to find out if the company is studying new trends or not.
R&D is probably the most important time of the week for a developer. If developers don’t evolve, the solutions they develop will quickly become obsolete. As a customer, do you want to get an outdated solution before you even start?
Has a rigorous testing process, including automated testing.
Too often we see that the customer is the tester of the project. If this is the case, the development company doesn’t understand your project well enough and is just “writing code”.
A good web development company should write automated tests (integration tests, unit tests, etc.) for all their code, both front-end, and back-end. At a basic level, tests help developers focus on the code they are writing, and they also help them write more concise code.
The main benefit of a test suite for the customer is that when they make changes to the project code, they can be much more confident that the change or new code hasn’t affected anything else.
We are not saying that automated tests are the magic bullet of web development, and tests are only effective if they are well written, but they should definitely be part of every web developer’s toolbox.