Tools of the trade

25.08.15  |  Browser, Opinion, Programming & Website

Techy post ahoy! If you’re interested in how the technical team take a web design and turn it into a living, breathing website, read on.

For a long time, building website was reserve of a cerebral minority. Until the last few years, front-end development (the art of building what a visitor sees when they visit a website, out of nothing but good old HTML and CSS) was tricky to say the least.

The World vs Internet Explorer

Complex differences in the ways different browsers rendered (just a fancy word for ‘displayed’) a website meant that quite often a website would look fine in one, for instance Firefox, and not in another. The ‘another’ was usually Internet Explorer, historically a very unreliable browser that would turn otherwise beautiful websites into a mess of garbled images and text.

Building a Better Internet

But as the user experience evolved, and companies pushed the envelope in making their platforms easier to use than the competitor, browsers improved. Even Internet Explorer has evolved (and will soon be replaced with Microsoft’s new browser effort, Edge.) And so did the technologies they relied on: HTML and CSS are now more powerful than ever, and offer developers simple ways to achieve layouts and effects that simply weren’t possible five or more years ago.

Another catalyst for these changes has been the advent of the mobile web. Responsive layouts demand robust, flexible coding to allow for ease of use by the end user. Improved support for CSS attributes such as box-sizing have greatly lowered the difficulty in producing layouts that can easily resize to fit any size of screen.

These improvements have allowed the creation of a new generation of attractive and nuanced websites, where layouts are always simple and content is king. At least, that’s the theory; in practice, giving developers more power sometimes leads to some over-egged omelettes. Overcomplicated designs and complex navigation schemes which may have seemed a good idea on paper, but in practice cause issues for visitors.

Tools are Just Tools

As always, the most important element in the production of any website is the decisions its designers make. Tools are, after all, just tools.

If you have any questions about website development, browser compatibility, layout design or coding for the web in general, get in touch with the experts.