The web in 2020 will be an exciting place, but there are more pitfalls than ever. These best practices are just a few examples of a better way to navigate being one of the few who get through it. Time spent improving and future-proofing your workflow to include best practices pays dividends down the line, and we’re always improving our approach at Duckpin.
The Best Code is Less Code
Agency developers (like us at Duckpin) have all been there. Your company onboards a new inherited website; the front-end looks well designed and not too complicated. But, when you crack open your IDE, it’s nothing but spaghetti code, using lines and lines of code to solve a simple problem or deliver an uncomplicated feature.
The old K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple, Stupid) acronym is more than applicable in web development in 2019. Always keep your clients’ needs and usability in mind, but also prioritize the level of effort-to-pay off ratio when implementing features and performing builds. Inversely, it might benefit your project to spend the extra time up-front to make features more easily duplicated or easily changeable by a client or someone else in charge of content. Value propositions are at every turn in web development!
Not Just Mobile Friendly, Mobile First
“Mobile first” has been a buzzword since the early 2010s and even before. There’s a reason why this ideology has stuck around until 2019. It’s here to stay.
It’s estimated that as high as 63 percent of all US online traffic comes from smartphones and tablets. While it might seem more convenient to develop at a desktop size and pair down to mobile, why give the majority of your users less of a quality experience? During the design and development process, keep mobile users in mind from the start by implementing UI components friendly to mobile users. Increase the size of form fields and buttons, create thumb-friendly navigation, and keep interactive items far enough apart to avoid errant thumb presses.
Testing Environments and Version Control are your Friends
You might be a 10x developer, a unicorn, or a ninja. You might develop full platform builds in your sleep without as much as refreshing a page. But, when a live site returns a blank page because you rushed an update or didn’t test, and there’s no log of specific changes, we feel like we’ve gone back to the first time we echoed “hello world.”
A working website is not a testing environment. Take the extra configuration time, no matter how small the build. Automate as much setup as you can. Use the tools widely available like our fave at Duckpin – Local By Flywheel — and build it into your workflow. Your future self will thank you.
Stay Up with Google – Don’t get complacent
At Duckpin, we’re old enough to remember the Google Panda update. If you weren’t up on it, you were out of it. With an earlier Google update – Caffeine, Google’s increased indexing speed introduced “some not so good” content, stemming from the rise of content farms. Starting in 2011, the Panda update to Google’s algorithm caused an annoying but much-needed headache for developers and site owners around the web. Rankings dropped, best practices were changed, and what worked for higher rankings before actually hurt rankings post-update.
Learn from the Panda lesson and stay up on Google’s changes. Stay connected to its algorithms changes and be agile in responding to its updates. You’ve worked hard for those rankings, a little shift here and there is better than a plummet later.
Don’t Become Outside Tech Dependent
Dependencies are just that — dependencies. A new library or framework seemingly comes out every couple of weeks. There’s no need to compromise the future of your build because the latest and greatest technology stops its product support on a whim.
Research what you are adding to your project. If you work with plugins (we try to keep those minimal here at Duckpin), do your due diligence and use your best judgment. That library or WebPack plugin might do exactly what you need, but if it was last supported in 2015, it might be best to start looking at other options. You might be able to roll your own solution in the same amount of time or change your own expectations of what that feature might deliver. That time saved can be invaluable.