12.17.13

Development Terms Deciphered

BY JON SYU

I'm a web developer at a marketing agency, which means I'm one of the only people here who can't sell anything for the life of me. Being in this industry long enough though, I've garnered that most agencies describe themselves as having the exact same qualifications, often using the same words. Here are things that nearly all development firms say, regardless if they are actually true or not.

[We] are leaders in web design and development.

I don’t know what this means, and how you can declare yourself a leader, but everyone does it, so just accept it. If you want to see how “leader”-y the firm actually is, see if they’ve won any awards for their work. Carbon8 has, so I think we’re allowed to use that phrase.

[We] build your website from scratch

Fully-custom and built-from-scratch are two different things, you’re never going to get a site built-from-scratch unless it’s a very simple site. It’s like telling someone to bake a cake, but they have to mill their own flour first. All sites with content that needs to change on any semi-regular interval are built on top of a third-party system called a CMS, and with that, a sleuth of third-party and custom plugins to make it all work. Carbon8 does do fully-custom sites, nearly always on the front-end, but you don’t want a built-from-scratch backend for your site unless you plan to never redo the site in your lifetime.

All [our] sites comes mobile-ready, e-commerce ready, etc.

If a web developer includes a bunch of stuff with their basic package, it either means they’re REALLY good, or most likely, REALLY bad. Most of the time, if a developer says that all their websites are “responsive”, and their websites are all “e-commerce ready”, then either that developer bought a pre-made website template and just modified some styling, or you just put a second mortgage on your house to pay for your site. At Carbon8, we are a custom-shop, which means we build for what makes the most sense for your business - nothing is added unless we know it serves a specific purpose.

Your site will last [some arbitrary amount of time]

Web standards change with technology, and that means that pretty much every 2-4 years, your whole site becomes outdated. That doesn’t mean you have to redo everything, but any development shop promising you a website that will last a lifetime is pretty much lying straight to your face. Nobody knows what the web will look like in a few years - new devices and methods of interacting online may completely change, so pick a firm that keeps up with changes, not one that promises that it has already taken everything into account.

[A bunch of technical jargon]

The more confusing I sound, the smarter you’ll probably think that I am. As far as I can tell, this is the only way the most development and IT firms manage to stay in business. At Carbon8, we make sure you know what’s going on, and we’ll make sure you feel confident in who you’re picking as an agency.

Jon Syu
written by JON SYU

Jonathan is the senior technology manager at Carbon8, with years of experience working with various nonprofits and businesses in technical, development, and marketing positions. He began his programming career at 12, when he realized that he could create games on his graphic calculator instead of learning math. At Carbon8, he is responsible for all things technical, providing direction to Carbon8's development offerings and overall strategy.

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