When on a tight schedule, developers have to think of a way or two to speed up the development process. You can easily fall into the trap of pushing yourself over the edge to develop that website as soon as possible. Why is it a trap? Because the quality of your code will suffer and if you have to come back and fix something or make changes you will pay your time debt.
Time has never been a friend of developers. If you are a coder yourself, then you know what I’m talking about. But don’t worry. There are ways to speed up the development process, while still delivering quality outputs. Here are the six hacks that will make your website development significantly more efficient.
Don’t Jump Straight Into Coding
How many times have you heard “Planning is everything!” before? You know why? Because a good plan is a developer’s best friend. Before you start working on your website, sit down, get a pen and paper and open Google Docs.
What I’ve found particularly useful is to draw a website layout on paper, with all those divs and menus. Use the Google docs to write down the functionality. This practice will save you a great deal of time, trust me. When you are done, the drawing of your website layout and the document you’ve written will serve as the best recipe from the web developer’s cookbook to follow.
Don’t Code It If Somebody Else Did
You might think that you’ve thought of something original that you have to code from scratch. Whenever you find yourself in that situation, take a breather, and Google it. Developers around the world join communities like StackOverFlow and they talk a lot about their problems and various solutions, and you can use these in your own project. There is no need to do it from scratch.
You will be able to find a lot of working and ready-to-use solutions, ranging from the simplest ones done in HTML and CSS to the more complex ones, such as PHP scripts or Python. This alone will save you countless hours of work.
Become the Master of Your Favorite Tools
The coder is as efficient as his knowledge of the tools he is using. It doesn’t matter if you are using Sublime 3, Atom, Microsoft Visual Studio or Photoshop. If you know all the keyboard shortcuts, you will spend less time clicking and remembering where the option is in the menus.
Your ultimate goal is to become the code snippet master. If you manage to put that reusable code embedded in your editor to good use whenever the opportunity arises, you will become the master of productivity and be able to print out complex web pages in several hours.
Use CSS Libraries
There is no need to code like it’s 2005. We live in the age of fully-structured CSS libraries. Instead of wasting time styling your website elements from scratch, use the libraries that impact the entire layout of your website. The most popular one is definitely Bootstrap.
Not only will this save you time while you are developing your website, but it will also save you time in the future too. How? You won’t have to come back and make your website responsive, as Bootstrap CSS classes are made to be responsive.
If you need to add animation or hover effects to your website, use Animate.css and Hover.css libraries. In case you are making a website with a lot of elements, consider using CSS grid libraries such as Flexible Grid System and Semantic Grid System. These will all save you a lot of time.
Test for Errors as You Work
How many times have the errors in your code delayed your entire project? This is why someone more experience than you and me came up with “unit testing”. So instead of coding it all out in one sitting, take your time and test every section of your website.
This applies to both the looks and functionality. It’s much easier to fix the problem while you are still into coding that particular element, than to follow the breadcrumbs after you have come near the end of the project. This can be particularly useful if you are coding the backend of your website.
Use Open Source Plugins
If you perform a simple search online, you will be amazed at how many free jQUery plugins there are. If the one you need happens to be a premium one, do your math. If you have the spare time and skill to code it from scratch, why not.
If you are new to web development, the best way to speed up your coding is to practice as much as you can. Invent your own projects and learn by overcoming challenges. On the other hand, if you have some experience, the above-mentioned hacks will most definitely help you speed up the development of your website.
Digital Product Development Process
When creating a digital product, whether its an app or simple website, it is important to follow a consistent process in order to produce a consistently successful product. This is going to be a high-level overview of a process that can be adjusted to scale successfully to any project size and complexity.
Step One: Discovering the Problem
Firstly, it is the UX team’s job to understand the problem that is going to be solved. This part of the project involves meetings with the client or product owners, researching the competitive landscape, performing business analysis and analyzing any data that can be provided by previous iterations analytics. When it comes down to a digital product, like a website, it is also important to understand the people using the product, why they are using it and the type of technology they are comfortable with, as this will help the UX team define the best answer to the problem’s question.
Step Two: Defining the Best Answer
Next, the UX team is responsible for using the information discovered in step one to come up with the best solution to the problem discovered. Generally speaking, this second phase is marked with lots of sketches and initial concepts that can be quickly tested and iterated upon to drive towards the best answer to the problem. Wireframing, storyboarding, site-mapping (and information architecture), sketching and whiteboarding are routine elements that make up this phase of the project.
Step Three: Designing the Solution
Typically the design phase is what most non-industry folks picture when they think of when they hear digital product design. This is when the solution that was defined in Step two is crafted into a form that resembles a completed digital product. This means applying branding elements and styles to the structures defined in the wireframes, crafting a seamless digital experience that feels very much a part of the brand. This third phase is also when interaction design is created and generally involves working closely with the development team to ensure a seamless handoff into the next phase, development.
Step Four: Developing The Product
Step Five: Deploying the Final Product
The fifth and final production step of the process is deployment. Here, the final developed product is transitioned from its development environment to the live internet, where it can be accessed by the masses. Generally, this migration is taken care of via the modification of the Domain Name System (DNS), pointing URLs to their correct indexes. This phase can be completed with relative ease, however, a number of situations can arise when moving digital hosting and each deployment should factor in time to allow for bug fixes and code adjustments.
Step Six: Optimization (Constantly Improving the Product and Process)
The final step, optimization, isn’t a typical phase of the digital product production process. This is because Optimization should take place throughout the project and takes a number of different forms. In the initial discovery phase, optimization takes the form of user surveys and interviews to test the assumptions the team is making while performing research. In the second and third steps, it takes the form of prototype user testing, allowing users to interact with wireframes and mockups to test concepts and workflow ideas. In development and deployment, optimization takes the form of quality assurance (QA) testing, making sure to note and quash bugs as they are discovered. Finally, optimization even takes the form of a project post-mortem, analyzing the overall project to see how elements of the process can be improved to provide solid digital solutions in the future.