The world of technology moves at a fast pace, and web development is no different. You may have a stockpile of themes and plugins you use on a regular basis, but what about all of the other resources you use? Is there anything that’s outdated or something you can change to streamline your development workflow?
It may be time to do a complete audit of the tools, resources, and workflow you use and “spring clean” your resources of any weak spots. Let’s take a look at a few common resources you may use in your workflow and determine if anything can be changed or improved upon.
The quality of the web host(s) you choose to work with is something you should be monitoring regularly by documenting uptime results, attack reports, and the effectiveness of its customer service. You may have left other hosts after one bad experience or even a series of bad experiences, but even your most trusted host can tank in terms of quality. There are a few instances in which you may want to consider relying on a different host, especially when it comes to projects that need to be live at all times.
Conduct an audit on your web host, and consider these factors:
- Uptime – Most hosts offer an uptime guarantee of 99.9% these days. Consider switching if your project’s performance dip below that number or your host has yet to implement an uptime guarantee.
- Speed – If your project’s speed results are declining and you’ve done everything you can as a developer, consider if your host’s server quality may be the culprit.
- Server Capabilities – If your projects aren’t able to withstand heavy traffic, consider changing servers or hosts entirely.
- Security – If you notice an increase in the number of attacks that hit your servers and feel your host isn’t doing their part, consider switching.
- Technology – This recaps the previous points made. Uptime, speed, and security are all dependant on the technology and tools your host uses. Consider switching if you’ve been with them for a while and haven’t noticed a single upgrade to their overall server structure.
Wireframing & Prototyping
Having a system is nice, but what if there’s a better system out there? What I mean is consider switching up the way you plan out your designs. If you typically use an application, try planning out your next project on paper or a whiteboard.
If you’re old school, try switching to a wireframing and prototyping app:
The development environment you use can have a huge impact on your workflow. Here are a few things you may want to add, if you haven’t already.
Use a CMS
A lot of developers hated the thought of using content management systems in the past, and for good reason, too. However, CMSs have come a long way. They no longer limit what you’re able to accomplish as a developer, especially open-source CMSs like WordPress. Learn more in Julia Blake’s post 8 Reasons to Rely on a CMS for Web Development.
Use Starter Themes & Frameworks
Using a CMS gives you the opportunity to use starter themes and frameworks. These have the barebones of what you need to create your own themes. Frameworks may even have enough for you to get away with being able to build entire projects without having to write a single line of code.
Here are a few resources for you if you’re interested in giving starter themes and frameworks a try:
- How to Pick a WordPress Starter Theme
- 9 Frameworks to Watch in 2017
- Ezequiel Bruni’s Underappreciated Frameworks Series
Use a Staging Environment
New projects are great, but ongoing projects will always require changes and updates, too. If you haven’t added a staging or local development environment to your development ecosystem yet, consider doing so to cutback the headaches caused by implementing new changes to live projects.
Improve Workflow for Ongoing Projects
Staging environments are great. Pushing changes to live productions, however? Not so great. If you’re using WordPress, consider using Wordmove to make migrating those changes much more efficient.
There are a number of different ways to streamline your workflow by tweaking the coding practices you use ever so slightly. This includes using preprocessors. These cutback on the amount of repetitive code you’re required to write.
For example, a preprocessor for CSS may allow you to input the HTML color #960707 by creating a variable called $dark-red: #960707. This would allow you to write color: $dark-red; instead of color: #960707; whenever you want to use that specific color.
Here’s a simple list of preprocessors:
This post skimmed the surface of this topic, but as you can see, spring cleaning your developer resources follows a simple process no matter which resource we’re talking about.
- Analyze everything about your workflow.
- The tasks you perform.
- The tools you use.
- The resources you rely on.
- Research better ways to handle each one.
- Research better ways to do the tasks you perform.
- Research up to date or better tools than the ones you’re currently using.
- Research ways to update, skim, or add to the resources you rely on.
- Implement the changes you find.
The third one will require a lot of trial and error on your part to see if the new method, tool, or resource improves your workflow, but when you find that one new technique that changes the game for you, you’ll realize how beneficial this spring cleaning undertaking will have been. Best of luck!