What The Heck Is Coding, Anyway?

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The push for greater levels of coding knowledge (even the President wants you to learn how to code) translates into increased opportunities for businesses to create a powerful online presence, but brings with it the need for owners and managers to better understand the software creation process.

But what, exactly, is coding?

Coding is simply using a software language to create a specific set of instructions that tell a computer what to do. In a sense, coding is the language we use to speak with machines.

The process itself is akin to writing a book or an email – software engineers write code based on what they want a particular program to accomplish. In fact, the actual process of coding itself looks like writing an email – only there are far more symbols on the screen than words generally. And just like writing a book, creating code is a mixture of individual input and teamwork. Code is edited (often called “auditing“) in order to ensure that the program does exactly what it was designed to do under a variety of circumstances, and to avoid any problematic side effects often called “bugs.” Interestingly, there is still some debate as to where the term “bug” in relation to software code first originated. Either way, just like the real-life kind, they are generally something you want to avoid.

One of the most important aspects of coding is the decision regarding which software programming language will be used for a particular project. There are countless numbers of programming languages, all of which have their particular strengths based on the final goal. One of the many advantages of using a professional web development firm like Shift One Labs is that you don’t need to speak the language, you just have to know where you want to go – much like having a guide in a foreign country. The choice of which software programming language is used should not be taken lightly, as it has a profound impact on the outcome of the final products. As we discussed in our first post, building a website or web application that takes potential future uses and needs into account will be a rewarding investment for businesses of all sizes.

If you want to understand exactly how coding works, one of the best ways is to try it yourself. This may sound daunting, especially to those who may consider themselves non-technical. The good news is that there are numerous sites that are designed specifically to introduce you to the world of coding through simple tutorials with a great deal of interaction. One of the most popular is Code Academy, which allows you to start off with very simple coding projects and advance to more complex languages. There are numerous other sites that can help you learn how to code, a nice collection of which can be found here.

The importance of coding, just like language itself, cannot be understated. Code is at the heart of every single computer you use – from the one on your desk, to the one in your pocket, to the one that controls the stoplights on your way home from work. At Shift One Labs, we understand the language of the web, allowing you to focus on expanding your business. We’ll speak to the machines so that you can speak to your customers.

Our First Blog: Breaking Down Web Development

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Welcome to the launch of the Shift One Labs Blog! Our goal is to provide in-depth information on the key components of web development, discuss trends in the industry and highlight how it will effect your business and online presence in an easy to understand and informative format.

The old saying that you only have one chance to make a first impression has never been more true than it is online. And much like the internet itself – the speed at which that impression is made (the brain can process single images in as little as 13 milliseconds) – is inconceivably fast. In order to take full advantage of this incredibly short moment in time, businesses need to create a seamless online presence that instantly communicates their brand and service offerings to capture a visitor’s attention before they click the dreaded “back” button.

Web development can be compared to building a house. If it is built on a strong foundation (such as open source) it will be able to grow and expand over time. A common problem for many small businesses is that their web site isn’t designed to scale – either in terms of allowing the site to include additional technologies or web services, or unable to handle a massive influx of traffic should a product or service suddenly become incredibly popular. At Shift One Labs, we work with clients to not only design the site or system they need today, but create a framework that will allow for future additions without costly expenses. If you simply want to add on to your kitchen, you shouldn’t have to rebuild the entire foundation of your home in order to do it.

This foundation concept is incredibly important in web development and, unfortunately, often overlooked when creating or updating a website or web application. Often, the first time you find out about a problem is during the worst possible moment – right when your new product has gone viral or a positive review has led to a huge spike in demand for your services. Taking steps ahead of time to design and build for the future is one of the easiest ways to make sure that the investment in your website provides positive returns over time.

The question becomes, then, how do you know what type of foundation you’re going to need? Much of that, of course, will depend on the specific needs of your business. Having worked with countless clients, the Shift One Labs team understands that each web solution needs to be tailored to the unique factors of the business based on your industry, end user needs, and available budget. Though the starting point will often be different, one of our end goals is always the same: to build a fully functional, integrated online presence that best represents your company and your brand.

Over the coming posts, we will be discussing key components of web development, current trends that are reshaping the way businesses large and small use the internet to reach new customers and retain current ones, and perhaps most importantly, make the often hidden world of web development easy to see and understand. Should you have any questions or comments, we’d love to hear from you!