Future Proof

The internet is always changing, it seems like there’s a constant battle of change and acceptance with a ridiculous amount of browsers, devices and standards. Web designers know how increasingly difficult it has become. Good designers and developers recognize the job of good web design is never actually done, it just evolves. In order to be adaptable, web design must be flexible and adjust to new devices, technologies, and standards. Technology WILL CHANGE, is it worth updating to an entirely new platform each time it does? Nope.

Let’s discuss what to look for in order to “Future Proof” your website!

Selecting the Right Framework

Use a Framework that’s popular in development circles. Why? When the majority of developers are using the same system you can bet that it will become the standard or already is the standard. And with finding a framework that is the standard you are fighting off the inevitable changes that will take place in the technology we use to view information on a screen.

Twitter Bootstrap

The Bootstrap framework is the latest innovation to hit the design and development arena, making the creation of websites easier, faster and better in general.

What is Twitter Bootstrap?

Sleek, intuitive, and powerful front-end framework for faster and easier web development. Bootstrap is responsive. If you shift from a laptop to an iPad and from an iPad to an iPhone you won’t have to fret over your work. Bootstrap adapts to the change in platforms with super speed and efficiency.

LESS CSS

LESS has in reality gone ballistic within development circles. With its additions to the Bootstrap platform, you can use LESS mixins and CSS manipulations to customize the built-in grid. The fact that changes are automatically updated after each variable shift doesn’t hurt either. Bootstrap takes some of the most popular CSS3 utilities and brings them to life as a homogenous reaction on all browsers.

Using the Best Platform

A platform-enabled website is a website in which additional functionality can be seamlessly integrated by means of an external application programming interface (API). The platform should provide integration points. These integration points are places in the application where new functionality can be plugged in. Selecting a popular and well supported community platform is key in “future proofing” your investment in a website.

Why WordPress is the Best Option

WordPress is a free and open source content management system (CMS) based on PHP and MySQL which runs on a Web hosting service. WordPress is the CMS platform of 22% of all new websites. WordPress is currently the most popular CMS and blogging system in use on the Web, powering over 60 million websites worldwide.

The question would be: Why would you want to use any other CMS for managing your website? You wouldn’t! Why? WordPress is the most used and most expandable platform available. This means there are thousands of qualified developers working on the exact same platform you’re using. There are thousands of plugins that allow you to add custom functionality to your website in a matter of hours, maybe even minutes (not months). And… if you get stuck, there’s always someone in some forum willing and able to help.

With WordPress you get full featured capabilities completed in days or weeks through development that would normally (on other private CMS platforms) take months to build. Knowing this, users should also be aware, as there are a lot of wonderful plugins and extensions for WordPress there’s also a lot of garbage that can really hurt your site. Always have a professional web developer work on and configure plugins to fit and function properly with your theme.

The Right Hosting Helps (a lot)

It’s a good idea to have a host provider that allows you to stage your website while you test plugins and themes. This way you can test updates and changes making your website grow with changing times. If you don’t have a host provider that has this feature I’d suggest finding one. Staging is a really great way to (easily help) future proof a website!

Hosting is a hugely important part of utilizing your platform correctly. Having a cheap host will counter much of the work you’ve done on the website (sometimes without you even knowing).

What should you look for in a host provider?

This information is taken from our WP Hosting page on our website. It has been modified to explain items that are of importance when hosting a website.

Managed Upgrades

Whenever WordPress issues a security update, test it, then apply it.

Daily Backups

Back up your site every day—files and database—and have an easy to use restore point if needed.

One-Click Restore-Points

Ability to take a snapshot of your entire site — database and files — stored on the servers. Ability to restore that snapshot easily. This is a safety net in case you want to do something risky like upgrading plugins.

Enterprise Architecture

Use multi-server clusters, that include fast hardware with in-RAM caching, and a content delivery network to make sure your customers see your site load as fast as possible.

No Caching Plugins!

Try not to mess with caching plugins. Find a host that has them built in. Should include: database-caching, object-caching, and a content delivery network.

Firewall

Has your site been hacked or exploited? If you’re using a typical hosting company, it might just be a matter of time. Find a hosting company that blocks known attacks. Useful if they are proactive about new attack possibilities.

Malware Scanning

A server that automatically scans for, and fixs, many hacking attempts on sites.

CDN

Built in CDN (Content Delivery Network). Ensure your website loads lightning-fast no matter where your visitors are. Your images, CSS, and other files should be served from a datacenter near your customers.

Learn more about hosting.

Having Editable Website Options

If you’re not interested in paying thousands of dollars every few years for a new website overhaul then I would highly suggest finding a platform like WordPress and having a developer build a framework theme that can be easily edited and managed. Here at Spark Logix Studios, over several years of developing WP themes we’ve hit a sweet spot in theme development. It took a lot of time and an annoying amount of trial and error! Using WordPress we’ve built a WP Framework giving every site we build massive flexibility while creating a true “future proof” website.

Creating a website with multiple, future proof options is time consuming and expensive. However, when it’s done right and uses the right technology you WILL save thousands of dollars. Flexibility is important, long gone are the days of a rigid website design that only a developer is able to change. Though difficult, you should find a web designer that is capable of creating a website where YOU can change all of the colors and where you can change the overall theme style of the site in addition to the content!

When working with a web designer you should always ask:

How “future proof” will the site be?

Find out what their response will be and reference the information learned here. Did they cover the framework, platform, ability to manipulate the website without code knowledge, it’s ability to respond to all devices?

What options do I have when changing my site in a few years?

Get into the details of how editable the site is. You might want to find out how difficult it is to change the color scheme of the site, the site’s overall layout, page layouts, headers and footers.

How easy is it to manage my website and make core changes to the scheme of the site?

Most web designers are going to struggle with these questions, however our point is to outline the best course on creating a “future proof” website -and why it’s hugely important for any small business owner to understand.

Bulletproof Website Options Should Include:

  1. Ability to Manage and Change ALL Color Elements and Pattern Styling on the Website
  2. Ability to Modify ALL Page Layouts (without having to know HTML and CSS)
  3. Ability to Completely Change Elements on the Footer and Header of the Website
  4. Ability to Easily Create Custom Code Language (while still keeping the site’s code organization)
  5. Ability to Add eCommerce Functionality without Altering the Core Development
  6. Ability to (obviously) Manage All Content
  7. Ability to Add Plugins and External Extensions
  8. Ability to Update and Manage Updates in a Secure Environment

Contact Spark Logix Studios for a free consultation.

Ensuring the Website is Device Ready

Responsive web design is relatively new and is catching A LOT of steam and becoming the obvious website need for most web designers. A responsive website adapts to its environment. This means, instead of a designer having to create multiple sites for different gadgets and operating systems, the website “knows” where it’s at and adjusts accordingly. So, whether being viewed on a PC, tablet, or smartphone, the site renders appropriately.

As devices change and as more technologies start to pop up, responsive web design is daily becoming more of a “future proof” must in web design. At the time of this writing we’ve been developing responsive websites for over 1 year (and we’re one of the first). Currently, “Responsive Web Design” is a little over 2 years old, and it took time for developers to see the light. Now, RWD is becoming the standard.

What’s it Good For?

If your main goal is to ensure your site works appropriately no matter where or on what device someone tries to access it then it RWD is the only viable and “future proof” option.

Other benefits of responsive web design are:

  • Mobile-Friendly – Mobile internet users are taking the online world by storm, and mobile devices are rapidly becoming the most popular way to access the internet. Businesses that can’t stay connected with mobile consumers are missing out in a big way. With responsive web design, you know anyone can view your pages no matter what device they’re using.
  • Better Usability – Since the site adjusts to the consumer’s gadget, user experience increases dramatically. Viewers won’t get frustrated with pages that don’t load properly, that require annoying side-to-side scrolling, are too small to read, or have other bounce-producing annoyances. Essentially, responsive web design keeps visitors on your page.
  • More Relevant – Mobile users are often looking for quick information (directions, reviews, product descriptions, etc.) and don’t need or want to hunt through extra content to find what they need. Responsive web design automatically abbreviates a site down to its most basic information, making it more likely a consumer will bother to stay on your site.
  • SEO – Instead of having to build links and traffic to three or more sites (one for desktops, one for tablets, and one for smartphones), responsive web design lets you concentrate all your SEO efforts on one site, so all link juice goes to the same place with no site-slowing redirects.
  • Less Expensive – Over time, responsive sites tend to cost less than maintaining multiple, dedicated sites. There’s simply no way to reduce the redundancy, coordination, and updates involved with maintaining more than one site, all of which means more time (money).
  • Get Ahead of the Competition – Since responsive web design is still catching on, it’s unlikely your competition is using it. This gives you a huge advantage in terms of user experience and perception, and it will save you time and money you can devote to other areas of your business.

Why Should You Care About Being Device Ready?

With all the benefits of responsive web design you have an increased chance of sales and conversions, which, undoubtedly, is your primary reason for having a website. You can rest easy knowing your site will always perform, users will have a device-targeted experience (encourages action), and you can reach the ever-growing mobile audience. Responsive Web Design is a MAJOR factor in “future proofing” a website. As new devices emerge, responsive websites will be ready.

Steps to Future Proof Your Website

  1. Select the Right Framework
  2. Use the Best Platform (WordPress)
  3. Get the Right Hosting
  4. Make Sure the Site is “Option Ready”
  5. Code the Site to Be “Device Ready”

 

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