From "Start" to "Finish"


Engine SevenFour’s Tips for Creating Exceptional Websites


Hot on the heels of the Ellipsis Digital post on ten tips to get your blog post read (which actually contains 10½ tips, ‘cause we’re all about exceeding expectations), we talked to the dynamic development team at Engine SevenFour about their top tips for building good websites. Turns out that despite their skill in sweating the small details, their tips tend toward big-picture thinking, and could be applied to almost any project…

Sean Sandy starts us off with an important, and exceedingly simple, tip: “Start.” While this may seem flippant, not starting is the death of many great ideas in programming.

“Make sure you are building something people actually want, not what you think they want,” says Derek Martin, our choice for MIMitW. Unfortunately, this isn’t something that everyone considers before they start, to the detriment of the site owner, the end user and the project itself.

Now that you’ve started, and are going in the right direction, here’s some further guidance. Ian Paterson, our crackerjack co-op student, understands the value of planning. "Never rush in the beginning stages—it will always come back to bite you." Todd Rumball, our expert on the front end, has three words: “Organize, organize, and reorganize.” Don Hey simply says, “Keep it clean and simple.” Engine SevenFour’s Sys Admin/DevOps guy, Jordan Boland, recommends profiling as you build. (For those of us unfamiliar with this usage of “profile,” it refers to monitoring the performance of your code.)

Zoe Blair provides the other bookend to Sean’s advice. Her one-word tip is “finish”—not finishing is the bane of most programmers’ existence.

However, Lisa Fehr has an addendum to Zoe’s statement. Lisa says, “A good website is never finished. It needs to be maintained. Servers update and code can become deprecated. Webforms can stop sending. Technology changes and fancy effects can break. Target audiences can change, and navigation and content needs to grow with them.” And Ronald Rosales, whose QA skills give the stamp of approval to the team’s work, seconds that; he recommends that you “think of your website as being permanently in ‘beta’ stage—you never have a final product—it has to be constantly reviewed and updated.”

So to sum up:

  1. START.
  2. THINK about what you’re doing, especially with respect to your end users.
  3. PLAN.
  5. CLEAN. Keep your site (and your code) clean and simple, and review as you go.
  6. MONITOR the performance of your code.
  7. FINISH.
  8. MAINTAIN. Technology changes, and your work has to change with it.

Interested in working with the Engine SevenFour team? Check our current opportunities.


All icons from the Noun Project: Match by Martha Ormiston / Light Bulb by John Caserta / strategy by Gregor Črešnar / group by Lloyd Humphreys / Hand Washing by Yu Luck / Eye by Aaron K. Kim / Flag by Petr Papasov / Heart by Muneer A.Safiah