Website Design and Development Round Up of 2014

17 Rebecca D'Cunha

In last week’s blog post we published the Search Team’s biggest talking points of 2014 as well as their predictions for the digital marketing landscape in 2015. PPC, SEO, content, social media, email marketing and graphic design were just some of the subjects covered in our article, however as many of you will know Gravytrain is not just about digital marketing.

Digital marketing and website design and development go hand in hand, which is why Gravytrain has our own Website Design and Development team in-house. After viewing the success of last week’s blog post (did we mention that Google UK Business favourited it on Twitter?) they have decided to create an article featuring their invaluable insight.

Here you will find everything you need to know about website design and development in 2014 and 2015 featuring information on Magento, Java, responsive web design, project management and more.

We hope you enjoy our article, don’t forget to keep an eye out for further developments from the Website Design and Development team in 2015!

Nick May – Project Manager

During 2014 I was able to drive forward some great tools to help the team produce some superb projects. One of the main tools behind this has been JIRA by Atlassian which allows us to plan our projects, monitor their progress and create a structured way to work as a team. As part of the Atlassian package of tools we’ve also introduced Confluence which has allowed us to build upon our in-house resources to increase efficiency and our ability to learn from one another.

We’ve also spent time working with JIRA’s Service Desk application to offer a Support Portal for our clients, allowing them to raise support and change requests far more efficiently. These tools have helped us improve our processes and deliver an even higher level of service to all our clients.

My Prediction for 2015: I look forward to developing upon the project management tools we currently use so that we can continue to improve the services we deliver to our clients on a daily basis.

Mark Bowman – Head of Magento Development & AWS Infrastructure

Magento really came on leaps and bounds during 2014 with more stores and retailers migrating and Magento hitting the Top 500 retail list. There is no denying that Magento is the most robust, extensible and enterprise-feature rich ecommerce platform on the market that can see huge successes which is why it draws in the masses. However, store owners need to be fully aware of the entire “Magento Picture” before jumping in and migrating a store without any experience, putting their investment at risk.

My angle when building any ecommerce system has always been that speed and performance are among the most important factors for success and Magento certainly pushes the boundaries. In many cases, I have seen store owners trying to run high traffic Magento stores on low budget hosting, running very old versions of software without success. Magento’s demands are much more than most which is why a finely tuned, scalable, and up to date platform running the Magento engine is a must. We have already begun profiling our customers’ stores on our newly developed Amazon Web Services Magento Infrastructure, and over the next few months we expect a substantial number to move to this dedicated Magento platform.

My Prediction for 2015: The Magento eco-system will grow even further in 2015, with more modules hitting the marketplace. Amazon Web Services will therefore have an even bigger year with the focus on their new database product Aurora promising better and more stable performance.

Helen McArthur – Senior Java Developer

Throughout 2014 I have continued to see businesses look to the web to automate business processes and to streamline web applications in order to increase conversions. The online market is becoming stronger and stronger with more of us looking for information and purchasing products online.

Through the use of the web our customers have been able to grow and reduce overhead costs at a time when they need it the most. As a solution-minded developer I have been able to create and update systems which have made our customers more efficient in their internal processes and therefore more profitable.

My Prediction for 2015: I expect to see continued development of web solutions and for us to be building more complex systems for our clients as they grow.

Andrew Willis – Senior Java Developer

2014 saw the release of Java 8 which provided some major updates to the core programming language. Some of the main changes include Lambda expressions which allow us to compact our code while using single method interfaces and streams that enable easier processing of object collections. Hopefully this will allow people more familiar with functional programming to make the leap into Java as well as giving existing developers features available in other languages.

The new Date-Time API will also fix a long standing headache with the existing API by making it simpler to use those data types and help eradicate mutability issues that can make their way into many an unsuspecting program.

My Prediction for 2015: More of a hope that Oracle’s march towards Java 9 will continue unabated so we can see it in early 2016, and that their legal battle with Google over Android & licence fees for its use of Java reaches an amicable conclusion so that nothing really changes for developers.

Adam Boissevain – Junior Magento Developer

I myself have spent the last year really getting down and dirty with Magento layouts and the customisation of themes, and I was very impressed with 1.9’s release of the new standard responsive theme. The new default theme is a very big step for Magento and makes the process of creating a custom theme responsive very easy and less time consuming.

As we commence into this new year of 2015, forgetting about the broken promise of hover boards, flying cars and auto-lace trainers, the excitement of Magento 2.0 is building within the community. Although it looks as though there is going to be a long wait for the final release I am relishing the opportunity of exploring and experimenting with the Beta version, and so far I am very impressed with some of the new features that (fingers crossed) will be bursting into the community probably late this year.

My Prediction for 2015: It looks as though in 2015 we will be met with some new exciting challenges that are going to propel us up the digital marketing ladder, and who knows the first store we build in the new Magento 2.0 could be yours!

Umberto Pietosi – Process Analyst

2014 has seen a big shift in mobile traffic from traditional desktop traffic. This should not be surprising as these sophisticated mobile devices are giving people the ability to access their favourite websites, as well as participate in the increasing world of social media, from almost any location.

The increasing popularity of smartphones and tablets has meant that website design and development has had to change to accommodate these mobile browsers. New times call for new design techniques, and the required standard is now responsive web design.

A website now needs to be fluid in that it can change not just in size but also in layout, when needed, without any input from the user. The flow of the text and images needs to change to accommodate a narrower screen and the font size needs to enlarge to allow for easier reading on a small device.

My Prediction for 2015: 2015 will see the shift to mobile traffic continue at an increasing rate. The year ahead is the time for businesses to capitalise on this trend and invest in mobile website design to make user experience simple, visually pleasing, and more likely to convert.