Ever scrolled through a website only to find odd layouts or buggy graphics? Even worse, ever tried to click into a website only to be met with infuriatingly slow load times? These issues are the bread and butter of website developers, and our own dev team knows a thing or two about what makes a great website tick (or click, if you will).
We know that a well-designed and user-friendly website is one of the most effective ways to showcase a brand or personal portfolio and connect with an audience. Website development involves a combination of design, coding, and technical skills to create a website that meets the needs of both the user and the business.
So how does one create an effectively coded website, exactly? Here, we explore our top 4 website development tools that we use almost daily to create outstanding websites, and how you can use them to enhance your own website development skills.
What is Website Development?
Simply put (which is a rarity in web creation and coding), website development is the process of creating a website. Sounds easy, right? Well, unless you're a kid genius who's done coding classes all through school, web development can be incredibly complex. But don't let that put you off - it can also be wonderfully fun and rewarding, not to mention the fact that it's a highly in-demand skill and an essential component to any digital marketing agency.
The problem with using development platforms like these is that they come with certain limitations. You essentially need to abide by the platform's rules, create within their scope and accept their often narrow parameters. But they are still effective for people who can’t or don’t want to learn code. These platforms don’t require much technical knowledge, and they’re a great way to get started.
On the other hand, coding your website from scratch allows you to customise things exactly how you want them. It helps you understand what’s going on and how everything works from the inside out. We feel it's always better to have at least some knowledge of coding if you’re looking to build a website that stands out from the crowd.
The 3 Languages of a Website Developer
So what exactly is involved in creating a website? What does a web developer really do, specifically within a digital marketing agency like Talk? The short answer is code. We write, test, fix and run code on various platforms to bring to life the beautiful websites our designers have created.
HTML (HyperText Markup Language) is perhaps the most common coding language. It's used to structure a web page with elements like headings, subheadings, body paragraphs, navigation, header, footer, buttons, you name it. HTML is responsible for defining and organising the content and layout of webpages.
CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) CSS is like the personal stylist of HTML, or the extravagant creative in a digital marketing agency. It artfully adds visual design elements to a website, including colours, fonts, styles, backgrounds and layouts.
4 Key Tools and Technologies in Web Development
Now that we've got the basics covered, what are some key website development tools that will have your coding in tip top shape? Here are several essential dev tools that we’ve come to know and love.
1. Visual Studio Code
We personally love VS Code for its powerful code editing capabilities. Its advanced editing features like syntax highlighting, auto-completion, and code formatting, helps developers to write code faster and more accurately. VS Code also has a built-in debugger that makes debugging and streamlining code much easier.
VS Code also has thousands of amazing extensions that can help you achieve almost anything code-related under the sun. Some of our favourites include Life Server, GitLens, Path Intellisense, Code Spell Checker and Colour Highlight.
MobaXterm is a powerful terminal emulator and remote desktop client for Windows (yep, sorry Mac users). It's an all-in-one software that provides several network tools like SSH, Telnet, RDP, VNC, FTP and SFTP.
One of the best features of MobaXterm is its ability to connect to remote servers and perform commands as if you were sitting in front of the remote machine. This makes it an excellent tool for web developers who need to access remote servers frequently.
Let's talk APIs. Postman is probably one of the most popular API development tools that allows developers to test and document APIs quickly and easily. It provides a simple and intuitive interface so we can create and send HTTP requests to test APIs, which is pretty important for any user wanting to get any piece of info from a website.
One of the best features of Postman is its ability to save requests and collections for later use. You'd be amazed by the amount of time (and sanity) this saves us, as we don't have to recreate the same request or collection over and over again. *Cue every web developer breathing sighs of relief*.
Postman also allows developers to create automated tests that can be run as part of a continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD) pipeline, which is a key step in code testing.
4. Google Chrome Developer Tools
Ever hit F12 by accident and been bamboozled by a strange window of code that appears on screen? Or perhaps you're a coding guru familiar with Google Chrome DevTools, a set of useful and totally free coding tools built into Google Chrome.
Google Chrome DevTools can also inspect and edit the DOM and CSS of a web page in real-time. This feature helps developers to see how changes to the code affect the layout and behaviour of a web page as they work, which is incredibly efficient and effective.
Extra Tools for Extra Kicks
Just because we’re suckers for good coding tools, we couldn’t let this article go by without mentioning a few extras that we just love.
WampServer is our go-to for starting and running a local server. It basically allows us to run a website on our computer before publishing it, or without needing a server - pretty useful when building a site.
‘Wamp’ stands for Windows, Apache, MySQL, and PHP, which are all the things you need to build a website on your computer. WampServer bundles all of these things together, so you don't have to install them separately. It's a great tool for anyone who wants to learn website development or just wants to build a website for fun - and it's free!
Git is like a superhero tool for website development - and believe us, it's saved our necks more than once! Git helps to manage and track changes to code so we can work on it safely and collaboratively with other developers.
Git makes it easy to go back in time if something goes wrong, compare different versions of code, and merge changes made by different developers. It's another free and open-source tool that's used by developers worldwide. We highly recommend investigating this hero of the coding world!
The Evolution of Coding Continues
Like anything in the digital world, website development and coding is constantly evolving. We’ve seen advancements in leaps and bounds over the years, and we now get to use time-saving and performance-enhancing tools like those explored above. Five years ago, for instance, it would have taken triple the amount of time (if not longer) to create a website than it does today.
Whether you’re using the more in-depth coding languages or heading to a done-for-you platform like Squarespace, however, new evolutions will continue to appear in the field of website development. From increased use of automation and augmented reality to improved security and even more focus on speed and performance, website development will continue to shape and adapt with our ever-changing technological world.
For now, these tools are probably some of the best on the market. Have a play with them, revel in the wonder of code (yes, we are nerds) and explore the possibilities of creation with these exciting website development technologies. That is, until the next batch of even more advanced tools rolls around!