You’ve set your goals and approved your blueprint… Now it’s time to build the “house.” It’s time to move on to coding the front-end and the back-end of your website.
Coding the Backend
Although your clients will never interact with it, the backend of your website is integral to their overall user experience. Without successful backend coding, your front-end wouldn’t store, process, or use the data that your website requires to run.
During the coding phase of the website development process, your agency will focus on three major components:
On the other side of every client input is a computer that has to do something to create the desired response. This system is called the server.
For example, when you post on Reddit, you send input data to the Reddit servers, which then use their coding instructions to decide what to do with that data. Once it’s gone through the rules or logic code that the web developer sets for it, the server responds with the appropriate action. You click “submit,” the backend server posts on the right subreddit.
Within the server is an application that runs the logic code. When you request by typing in a website URL, it is sent along to the server, which gathers up all of the elements that make up a particular page, puts it together in the way that the front-end developer built, and returns it to you.
The application has to keep in constant contact with the server’s database. All of the element data, server responses, and save information like passwords are stored until it’s needed on the client-facing side.
Like its name would imply, the database contains all the data that a website needs to function as intended. It’s the only reason that a server issue is a temporary problem and not the end of a site as we know it. It’s the proverbial attic, tucking away all the bits and bobbles that give websites their functionality and flair until a user requests them.
SQL and CRUD
All of the components of a website’s backend have to play together efficiently, or the whole purpose of coding an integrated server-database-application system goes out the window. The programming language SQL provides coders with the ability to create meaningful relationships between the three components that give site visitors what they are looking for.
SQL code makes requests of the database that include:
- CREATE new data, like a new user account or password
- READ information that already exists, like your stored addresses and credit card numbers
- UPDATE it with any new information available. This happens when you change your website login information.
- DELETE data records from a site or partition of the database.
Coding the Front-End
When it’s time for front-end coding, the web developer will focus on what the client wants their visitors to experience each time they use the website. It’s visual and experiential, versus the backend coding, which functions without any fanfare.
Once you get to this point in the web design process, you’ll start to see your vision come to life. The basic layouts, graphics, content, and color palettes emerge. To make that happen, your web developer will combine three coding languages, each of which fulfills a specific purpose.
While we mentioned all of these languages in our post on coding, it’s good to refresh our memories:
HyperText Markup Language is the primary, most fundamental code that all web developers need to know. Unlike programming languages, HTML is a markup language because it uses text tags to notate content based on its purpose.
For example, to stylize your page title, you’d use. These HTML elements (the stuff in the pointy brackets) categorizing content and creating the tell-tale signs that a specific piece of text is a title, header, subheader, etc.
All website front-ends are made up of a bulk of HTML elements, but they’re pretty plain. You need another coding language to spice things up with cool fonts, branded colors, and page backgrounds.
Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) defines what the HTML text will look like to your client. Front-end coders determine those style sheets according to your vision, then dress up the HTML in its fancy new outfit.
When you discuss your overall aesthetic and content layout goals with your web developer, they’ll get to work creating the CSS code that will eventually run live on your final website, then implement it during this step of the web development process.
Fitting It All Together
Coding the front-end and back-end is one of the lengthier parts of web design because it requires trial and error to get everything just right. While using a CMS takes care of many of those problems, the law of big numbers says that when so many functioning parts are working together, something is bound to break.
That’s why working with an experienced coding team is worth the time you spend looking for one. With years of experience comes efficiency and efficacy, ensuring that this step of the web development process doesn’t take longer than necessary.
It’s also important, though, not to rush it. Code is the backbone of the entire system, so getting it just right can make or break the overall success of your website.