Just Because You Can Hand Code a Website Doesn’t Always Mean You Should

For many web professionals knowledgeable about front-end development with HTML, CSS, and Javascript, hand coding websites is a way of life. A designer creates the look and feel of the website and a developer meticulously codes the pages for that site.  While this process gives the web developer total control over a site’s code, something that many developers insist on, the downside to this process is that it can be very time consuming.

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If you are creating a website that will be seen and used by millions of people, then this unwavering attention to detail in the code may be warranted. If you simply need to create a proof of concept or a demonstration for a client, however,  the time needed to hand code a website, especially a site with modern features like responsive multi-device support or parallax scrolling, can become counterproductive to what you actually need to accomplish. In cases like this, just because you can hand code a website, you have to question whether there is actually an easier way to get your work done.

 

Cloud Based Web Design Platforms

Cloud based platforms that can create websites without the need to hand code those sites are a perfect fit for proof of concept projects. Webydo is one of these cloud-based platforms that can be utilized for project like this.

According to their website, “Webydo is a professional web suite that enables graphic designers to create and manage exceptional HTML websites, without writing code.”  A designer can use Webydo to create the look and feel of a site while the software writes the code necessary to develop those pages. Features like responsive support for a variety of devices, Ecommerce, and even CMS editing capabilities can all easily be added, and once the project is ready to show, the project can be published to the Web – all with no manual, hand coding needed.

Now, most web developers would shudder at the thought of not being able to get their hands into that code. Sure, a designer who does not know how to code a webpage may find a tool like this useful, but if someone knows how to code, they should use that knowledge, right? Not necessarily. You need to use the right tool for the job, and a platform that allows for rapid prototyping of a project’s concepts and the ability to get up and running with some page concepts and functionality in a matter of hours instead of days may actually be the best tool for this job.

Yes, you may be able to hand code a proof of concept website, but with a platform like Webydo, you don’t have to. Instead, you can spend your time coding pages for actual projects, not demos.

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Working Smarter, Not Harder

While the phrase “work smarter, not harder” may be a bit of a cliché, it is also absolutely appropriate for what we are talking about in this article. Yes, you can pull a series of all-night coding sessions in order to bang out the pages needed for a proof of concept project, but is that the best use of a web developer’s time? If this is, indeed, simply a demonstration that will hopefully lead to the approval of a project, then this is time that will be lost if the project does not move forward. Investing a significant amount of time to make the code perfect does not make sense. Yes, you want the website to work well in order to get the project approved, but no client is going to review the clarity of the site’s codebase at this early stage. In this instance, working harder equates to little more than lost hours.

Working smarter on a project like this means finding ways that you can accomplish the task at hand and create a viable demonstration without needing to invest heavily in the development of that project. This is where existing frameworks or, even better, cloud-based web design platforms can come to the rescue.

 

Starting with a Framework

Frameworks are something that many developers will be familiar with. Even though those developers may hand code the sites that they build, they likely use some kind of codebase to start with. In many cases, they have created this codebase starting point themselves, once again ensuring that they have total control over that code. This idea of “total control” is why frameworks may not the best answer in these “working smarter” instances.

An existing framework can absolutely get a developer up and running quickly, but there is often the temptation to tweak that framework’s code to make it perfect – and since every developer’s idea of perfect code is different, this can quickly become a time consuming endeavor that negates any savings that were going to be realized by starting with a framework in the first place.

 

Bonus Design Features

If you are a web developer, one additional bonus of using a platform like Webydo is that it can help you with the design aspects of a project, something that many web developers struggle mightily with.

Many of these cloud-based web design platforms come with templates that you can use to get up and running quickly with a professional looking design. If you need to put together a quick demonstration of a concept, but are design-challenged, starting with one of these templates will ensure your presentation looks polished and professional.

 

The Downside to This Approach

As a web developer, you may be quick to point out the downside to starting with a cloud-platform to produce a quick proof of concept is that then you need to begin again from scratch once the project is approved as opposed to taking the code you wrote by hand and using it in production.

Yes, it is true that if you want the production version of your site to be hand coded, you will need to begin again, but do all projects really need to be hand coded? In some cases, this proof of concept that was built on an existing platform may actually be a great springboard for your final site!

Even if you do decide that cloud-based web design platforms are only to be used for demos and that production sites need to be hand coded, there is still an advantage to be had here. The time you save in rolling out that demo site can be substantial – and if that potential client decides not to go forward on the project, you have minimized the investment of time you spent on that endeavor. Compare this to a scenario where you had a developer, or team of developers, working serious hours to hand code a proof of concept for a project that never takes off and you can see how cloud-based web design platforms can absolutely have an important place in a project, even if you have a team that knows how to hand code websites.