As a front-end developer you have the unique ability to update online media anytime you want; unlike those who work in print media. Website and web applications are editable and can be altered regularly to keep contact current. In fact, it is preferred that you continuously update and maintain websites to keep users happy. In today’s world they need to constantly be fed new information and more exciting and advanced apps. Stagnant websites and web applications that are unwilling to evolve soon fall by the wayside.
The average site uses basic SEO practices and simple text and graphic updates to stay relevant, but front-end developers can do so much more than that to be more effective. The following tips are for a wide range of front-end developers, so some may not apply directly to you depending on if you work for a company, are a freelancer, or are a one-man show.
1. Keep it clean and updated.
Like a house, it is far easier to keep it maintained if it is done so regularly. Rather than let a big mess form that requires an over sized dumpster to clean up, chipping away at the small things as they occur can be much easier and nicer for visitors who stop by before spring cleaning day. Use the same motto for website maintenance.
A single website can have hundreds of pages accumulate over time. By the time you have reached page 100, page 1 is probably outdated. Continuously review the content and edit it as needed. Static pages will need to be corrected, but if you are working with a blog or news page then the answer may be as simple as posting a new article with the current information. Check on these pages often:
- Policy Pages – Update when new company standards and procedures are developed to avoid legal issues
- Contracts – Service contacts, like policy pages, also need to be updated on an ongoing basis as changes are made to company standards
- Software Documentation – Modify with new releases or bug fixes
- Blogs – Although you don’t necessary need to update an old blog post for the content, you should check popular ones for spam comments and to analyze tags that may not reflect the topic adequately.
2. Make repairs.
Suppose in this house that you are trying to keep clean a pipe breaks. You wouldn’t just leave it like that to flood the house. You would get it fixed so that your house can function properly again. As the front-end developer it is your job to make sure the site is running smoothly and to fix anything that breaks that falls under your domain, such as:
- Internal and External Broken Links – Including URLS, images, and external files
- Updating CMS (Content Management Systems) – Problems can occur with security, code, and other things
- Updating Plugins – Unsupported plugins that are not updated can be insecure
3. Test your website’s browser compatibility.
Semantic code will help to ensure that your websites function as you intend in commonly used browsers, but you should also do manual and automated checks. Most people check their site’s compatibility with the most recent versions of Internet Explorer and Firefox, but you should also be checking Chrome, Opera, and Safari. If possible, check on both PC and Mac computers because of variations that can occur in the rendering on one and not the others.
4. Test for mobile accessibility.
Mobile versions of a website have a growing importance in this day of smartphone and tablet users. Approximately 60% of American’s have reported using their mobile device to access the internet, making it imperative that their experiences on your website when using these devices be just as good as if they were on a PC.
If your site does not have a responsive web design (RWD) that adapts to whatever viewing environment is being used then now is the time to develop one. RWD reduces the amount of panning, zooming, and erroneous clicking that occurs when trying to view a non-mobile compatible website on the small screen of a phone or tablet. If you do have a RWD then continue to test it as you add content and make updates as necessary.
5. Optimize your speed
If you thought faster internet connection speeds were enough to make users happy, think again. Pages are also expected to load faster and faster. Developers can optimize the speed at which their pages load using various resources. The first is to perform a test of the website load speed. This can be done with tools like YSlow or Google Page Speed. There are also several analytics tools out there that will help you find page errors and make recommendations.
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