What I Have Learned About Web Development from Working at a Marketing Agency

December 8, 2015 | 7 min read
By Adam Smith

Pretty much my standard setup for a decade.

Pretty much my standard setup for a decade.

I’ve been a web developer for so long that I remember having to “dial into” the Internet in order to work. As hard as it is for me to believe, this year marks my 17th year as a web developer. When Marketing Mojo opened its digital doors, I was about halfway through a nine-year stint as director of web development for Mary Baldwin College. I learned so much in those early years, but my time at Marketing Mojo has been transformative in the way I approach web development.

A lot happened in those early years. Let’s go to the highlight reel…

Hardware and Platforms

    • I switched from being a classic ASP developer to PHP development. 
    • I switched from PC to a Mac (iPhones are a gateway drug).
  • I suffered through the browser wars.   

Web Technologies

    • I switched from IIS to Apache.
    • I programmed a LOT of Flash animations and applications.
    • HTML5 and CSS3 (WEEEEEE, web development is fun again!).
  • Google Analytics made user tracking ridiculously easy and cheap.

Other

  • I grew a sweet beard.

The Mojo Years of Web Development

logo on chalkboardI have now been at Marketing Mojo for more than three years. The Internet is still changing at break-neck speeds. Adding a deep understanding of search engine optimization and digital advertising has upped the game. I have also developed a much deeper understanding of the power of Google Analytics. I develop websites differently with different end goals in mind.   

Some Highlights

    • Fireworks died! Booooooo.   
    • Flip flopped development platforms (Mac to PC and back again). 
    • Switched from Dreamweaver to Coda for my development environment.
    • My foosball game has dramatically improved.

Google Analytics

ga-fail-featured-imageWhen I first started using Google Analytics, I think I used it like most newbs do. I put the code snippet on my site and then promptly forgot about it.  Occasionally, an executive would want to know how the site was doing, so I would throw together a quick report on page views, visitors, and bounce rate.  

Like a lot of web developers, I was failing at properly using Google Analytics.  

Conversion tracking was a revelation for me. Who cares if 11ty billion people are looking at your site if no one converts? Now I can track all sorts of conversions, from clicks to form submits to time on page and on and on and on.   

In my time at Mojo, not only has my understanding of Analytics grown, but the power of the product itself has grown. Universal Analytics introduced a bunch of great features. New demographic data like age and gender change what we can report on. Custom dimensions and metrics let us combine our own data with analytics data to help us make better decisions.   

Search Engine Optimization

From a technical SEO standpoint, Google adding page speed as a ranking factor has been a huge shift in how I approach technical SEO audits. I’ll admit, page speed was an afterthought in my early years.   

I’ve also discovered that many web developers don’t put any consideration into SEO while they are developing sites. Sites are littered with technical issues, and no thought was put into indexing when coming up with fancy designs. Too often, sites are launched without the basics in place.

Mobile

Mobile is possibly the biggest seismic shift in my workflow since I have begun this long, strange trip. The way I approach site development is completely different now, which includes a “mobile first” strategy.   

Responsive design, while not rocket science, requires careful consideration during the entire web development life cycle. What is helpful for users in the mobile space may not work on the desktop and vice versa. Since you are serving the same content, how do people consume your content differently on each platform? Do they search using different keywords by device?

Page speed comes back into play here. How does that graphic-intense site of yours work when you user is on 3G? If the page takes 30 seconds to load, do they bolt? You almost have to design and develop with a 56k mentality and do whatever it takes to keep your site lean and mean.   

The Big One: Conversion Optimization

All this said, I don’t think these are the biggest change in web development in the last decade. Your website is no longer an island — it is an ecosystem bolstered by many other services. Just throwing a brochure style website on the Internets isn’t good enough these days.   

You need to capture, analyze, and capitalize on which users come to your site and how they interact with it. The web is no longer just connected by links, it’s connected by data. Page views and visitors are only part of the equation. You need conversions. Whether it’s selling a widget, having a customer contact you, or securing a donation for your .org, your website needs to PERFORM.   Thinking in those terms not only changes how you design and develop your site, but what tools you need to track your users.

At Marketing Mojo, here are just a few types of services that we use in conjunction with our site:

    • Analytics
    • Tag manager
    • Ad management and conversion tracking
    • Marketing automation
    • Social sites and APIs
    • A/B testing tools
  • Customer relationship manager (CRM)

Wrap Up

Questions, comments, or want to DM me a picture of your sweet, sweet beard? Comment below or hit me up on Twitter: @schmack!


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What I Have Learned About Web Development from Working at a Marketing Agency

December 8, 2015 | 7 min read
By Adam Smith

Pretty much my standard setup for a decade.

Pretty much my standard setup for a decade.

I’ve been a web developer for so long that I remember having to “dial into” the Internet in order to work. As hard as it is for me to believe, this year marks my 17th year as a web developer. When Marketing Mojo opened its digital doors, I was about halfway through a nine-year stint as director of web development for Mary Baldwin College. I learned so much in those early years, but my time at Marketing Mojo has been transformative in the way I approach web development.

A lot happened in those early years. Let’s go to the highlight reel…

Hardware and Platforms

    • I switched from being a classic ASP developer to PHP development. 
    • I switched from PC to a Mac (iPhones are a gateway drug).
  • I suffered through the browser wars.   

Web Technologies

    • I switched from IIS to Apache.
    • I programmed a LOT of Flash animations and applications.
    • HTML5 and CSS3 (WEEEEEE, web development is fun again!).
  • Google Analytics made user tracking ridiculously easy and cheap.

Other

  • I grew a sweet beard.

The Mojo Years of Web Development

logo on chalkboardI have now been at Marketing Mojo for more than three years. The Internet is still changing at break-neck speeds. Adding a deep understanding of search engine optimization and digital advertising has upped the game. I have also developed a much deeper understanding of the power of Google Analytics. I develop websites differently with different end goals in mind.   

Some Highlights

    • Fireworks died! Booooooo.   
    • Flip flopped development platforms (Mac to PC and back again). 
    • Switched from Dreamweaver to Coda for my development environment.
    • My foosball game has dramatically improved.

Google Analytics

ga-fail-featured-imageWhen I first started using Google Analytics, I think I used it like most newbs do. I put the code snippet on my site and then promptly forgot about it.  Occasionally, an executive would want to know how the site was doing, so I would throw together a quick report on page views, visitors, and bounce rate.  

Like a lot of web developers, I was failing at properly using Google Analytics.  

Conversion tracking was a revelation for me. Who cares if 11ty billion people are looking at your site if no one converts? Now I can track all sorts of conversions, from clicks to form submits to time on page and on and on and on.   

In my time at Mojo, not only has my understanding of Analytics grown, but the power of the product itself has grown. Universal Analytics introduced a bunch of great features. New demographic data like age and gender change what we can report on. Custom dimensions and metrics let us combine our own data with analytics data to help us make better decisions.   

Search Engine Optimization

From a technical SEO standpoint, Google adding page speed as a ranking factor has been a huge shift in how I approach technical SEO audits. I’ll admit, page speed was an afterthought in my early years.   

I’ve also discovered that many web developers don’t put any consideration into SEO while they are developing sites. Sites are littered with technical issues, and no thought was put into indexing when coming up with fancy designs. Too often, sites are launched without the basics in place.

Mobile

Mobile is possibly the biggest seismic shift in my workflow since I have begun this long, strange trip. The way I approach site development is completely different now, which includes a “mobile first” strategy.   

Responsive design, while not rocket science, requires careful consideration during the entire web development life cycle. What is helpful for users in the mobile space may not work on the desktop and vice versa. Since you are serving the same content, how do people consume your content differently on each platform? Do they search using different keywords by device?

Page speed comes back into play here. How does that graphic-intense site of yours work when you user is on 3G? If the page takes 30 seconds to load, do they bolt? You almost have to design and develop with a 56k mentality and do whatever it takes to keep your site lean and mean.   

The Big One: Conversion Optimization

All this said, I don’t think these are the biggest change in web development in the last decade. Your website is no longer an island — it is an ecosystem bolstered by many other services. Just throwing a brochure style website on the Internets isn’t good enough these days.   

You need to capture, analyze, and capitalize on which users come to your site and how they interact with it. The web is no longer just connected by links, it’s connected by data. Page views and visitors are only part of the equation. You need conversions. Whether it’s selling a widget, having a customer contact you, or securing a donation for your .org, your website needs to PERFORM.   Thinking in those terms not only changes how you design and develop your site, but what tools you need to track your users.

At Marketing Mojo, here are just a few types of services that we use in conjunction with our site:

    • Analytics
    • Tag manager
    • Ad management and conversion tracking
    • Marketing automation
    • Social sites and APIs
    • A/B testing tools
  • Customer relationship manager (CRM)

Wrap Up

Questions, comments, or want to DM me a picture of your sweet, sweet beard? Comment below or hit me up on Twitter: @schmack!

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