The rise of Website-building platforms such as Squarespace gives people more tools for creating and maintaining Websites. But access to nifty templates and analytics doesn’t negate the need for tech pros who can build Websites, especially complex ones with e-commerce modules.
Lots of tech pros advertise themselves as experts at building Web properties. But what actually defines a good Web developer? It’s not just knowing the right programming languages, or even possessing a keen aesthetic sense: at the end of every client engagement, the developer needs to present a Website that fits the following criteria:
The Code’s Clean
If there’s one constant in the software industry, it’s that clean code matters. Just as a house can’t stand forever on a cracked foundation, a Website or app will eventually show signs of trouble if the underlying code is a hairball of messy workarounds and bugs. For any developer or designer looking to clean up their code, check out Dice’s five ways to do so.
When developing, do your best to choose the right tools, leave illuminating comments (which will help anyone who needs to rewrite your code later), and cut down on unnecessary elements. Test everything, and make sure the client receives as bug-free an experience as possible.
The Website’s Quick
There’s been a lot of hand-wringing over the past few years about slow loading times, and much of that criticism is entirely justified: some Websites fatten up on so many bells and whistles—by which we mean gifs and video clips—that you could make a cup of coffee while waiting for a page to load. Okay, maybe that last bit was an exaggeration, but not by much—loading times are an issue. A good Website developer not only delivers on requested features (within reason), but also builds a Website that’s speedy.
The Website Works
You’d think this one would go without saying, but a lot of Websites launch with incomplete functionality: search bars that don’t really function, buttons that refuse to respond to clicks, e-commerce modules that are a confusing mess of error messages. As a developer, one of the easiest ways to short-circuit your career is to build Websites where prominent things don’t work. Good devs, on the other hand, launch things that feel polished to the end user, no matter what the browser or device they use.
While it’s easier than ever to build a Website, recognizing the fundamentals of good Website design remains essential.