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3 front-end development tactics for great digital customer experiences

by | January 12, 2022

In an ever-evolving digital world, a business’ website is the first point of interaction with their customers and creating a remarkable first impression is critical. In fact, studies have shown that it takes less than a second for potential online customers to form an opinion about a website and decide to leave, or stay.

Different skills, specialisms, collaboration and a OneTeam Approach are all essential to bringing innovative and successful web applications to market, however it’s the front-end developers who are ultimately responsible for creating an optimum digital customer experience.

We spoke to Georgi Nikolov, Xoomworks Technology’s Front-End Development Practice Lead who shared his three top recommendations for successful front-end development that are sometimes overlooked.

#1 Accessibility for an inclusive user experience 

Accessibility is a key aspect of front-end web development that is often overlooked. It’s an essential part of creating a better online customer experience. When we talk about web accessibility, we are usually referring to users with a physical, visual, or auditory disabilities. Accessibility  spans more than that. It ensures there are no barriers to interacting or accessing a website by people with situational disabilities, or socio-economic restrictions on bandwidth and speed.

Accessibility covers many aspects of the website; from contrast, font size and colour, to links and check boxes. For example, when text and images are large and/or enlargeable, it is easier for users with poor sight to read the content. Underlining links, as well as highlighting them in a different colour, will ensure colour-blind users are able to spot them.

By developing web applications and maintaining them with accessibility in mind, users with the widest possible range of abilities will have equal access to information and functionality, creating a more inclusive user experience. Moreover, techniques for making a website more accessible for users with disabilities makes it more usable for all users. The general rule when it comes to accessibility, according to Georgi, is to keep the user experience as simple as possible.

#2 Optimising page speed for better performance

Time is money so when it comes to website performance, the main goal for front-end developers is to ensure content, images and media files render as quickly as possible. There are a number of steps front-end developers can take to reduce rendering speeds.

Generally speaking, the more calls your front-end makes to the server, the more time it will take for the pages to load. There are many ways you can reduce the number of requests such as: use CSS Sprites, reduce third-party plugins that make a large number of external requests, remove unnecessary custom fonts, prevent broken links to files that don’t exist, use session Storage API and local Storage API to store data into the browser when possible, use server-side rendering to speed up the initial load of the application.

Minify resources; Minification of resources means removing unnecessary characters from your HTML, JavaScript, and CSS that are not required to load, such as White space characters, Newline characters, Comments, and Block delimiters. This speeds up your load times as it reduces the amount of code that has to be requested from the server.

Lazy loading; the practice of delaying the load of non-critical content until it is actually needed by the user. It can occur on different moments in the application, but it typically happens on some user interactions such as scrolling and navigation.

Caching such as browser cache, memory cache, cache server and disc cache will also improve data loading times. Instead of downloading everything individually each time there is a unique visit to the website. Caching means browsers will store the files in their local cache to avoid loading the same assets for subsequent page visits from the server.

Enable prefetching; It can improve your visitors’ browsing experience by fetching necessary resources and related data before they are needed. With prefetching, the URL, CSS, images, and JavaScript are gathered for each link before you even leave your current webpage. This ensures that visitors can use links to navigate between pages with minimal loading times.

The geographic location of a user as it relates to the server can also negatively impact the loading speed of front-end content. This can be addressed using a content delivery network (CDN) which is a group of servers distributed across several geographical locations that store a cached version of the content for fast delivery to the end-user. A CDN will redirect user requests to the nearest server. This is especially important if your website caters to a global audience.

#3 Quality code for safer websites

While quality of code is as essential as having functional software, this basic building block of development is often ignored due to time or budget constraints.

Even the most experienced developer can introduce a coding defect without realising it and that could lead to a minor glitch in the application, long-term pain of technical debt, or a serious security breach resulting in personal information being leaked.

Using coding standards and best practices is one of the best ways to ensure high quality code and help ensure safety, security and reliability of the web application.

Think of coding standards as a set of rules, techniques, and best practices to create cleaner, more readable, more efficient code with minimal errors. They offer a uniform format by which developers can use to build sophisticated and highly functional code. A coding standard not only drives a consistent quality of code no matter who has written it; it reduces complexity, improves code maintenance, reduces development costs and increases the efficiency of developers to accelerate time to market.

To understand the Xoomworks approach and our role in helping businesses create compelling and inclusive digital customer experiences, get in touch.

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