How Javascript is Helping Us Build Better Digital Products

In our last piece, we looked at the range of programming languages that we use at AndAnotherDay. Whilst they weren’t worlds apart, they have their individual benefits. But one language that ties a lot of this together is JavaScript.

Catch up: The Programming Languages We Use, And How You Can Use Them With Us

With over 97% of websites using JavaScript in some way or another, it’s safe to say that it’s a core technology of the internet. Every single web browser out there has a dedicated JS engine, and it brings to life what would otherwise be a fairly dull world wide web.

A little background

JavaScript has been around since the mid-nineties, with its popularity soaring as websites became more dynamic and interactive. And we’re not just talking about dropdown menus or annoying popups – JS is behind web-based 2D and 3D animation too. 

On top of this, JS supports browsers APIs, which not only enables website basics such as CSS styles (the way a website looks), but utilising auxiliary sources such as webcams, audio devices or controllers.

More so, third party APIs means that developers can integrate popular web services, from social media platforms to payment gateways such as Stripe or PayPal.



Why we use JavaScript

For us, it’s all about flexibility. JS’s inherent versatility and speed means that we can not only hook various features and services together easily, but we can do it quickly. A senior programmer will be well-versed in JS, but junior developers can pick it up easily too. This is great for a growing team like ours. A piece of code that say, Tom has worked on, can be handed over to another member of the team with relative ease.

We create large single page applications, complex data APIs and backend systems that work with databases, and within all of these, the learning curve for multiple languages is simplified – by JS. We no longer need to follow the regimented approach of PHP for backend, HTML for frontend, CSS for styling and JavaScript for dynamic content. Instead, we can move to a simplified approach of using JS for all of those areas. Using JS end-to-end keeps code consistent and allows any developer on the project to work on any part of the project with familiar syntax, massively increasing efficiency.

JavaScript is a powerful scripting language, not only able to make API calls for data, but also holding the ability to manipulate a page dynamically, add animations to a webpage and generally allow us to control the page’s content, elements or layout in any way we see fit. If we couple that ability with a CMS such as WordPress or Contentful, we enable our clients to customise their website with much finer control while still ensuring the site runs fast and in keeping with their brand. 

We feel this empowerment is important. If we locked our clients’ CMSs down and asked them to put all requests through our help desk, we’d be swamped with tickets. But more importantly, by giving our clients a degree of control and customisation when it comes to their website, platform or product, we’re allowing these content managers to take ownership of their marketing or brand.

In a traditional setup of years gone by, design requests were often handled by a chain of account managers, designers and developers and back again. As you can imagine, this chews up valuable time, and time that’s often billable.



Beyond the traditional CMS

We don’t need to explain the benefits of a CMS beyond what we’ve already said, but CMSs are changing, and for the better. Services like Contentful, which we’ve been using for a few years, ‘decouple’ the content from the monolithic CMS, separating the rendering from the data layer.

By doing so, content managers can have better control of how their content appears, and where it appears. This rapidly reduces development time when it comes to something which should really be as autonomous as possible. For instance, a news website may want a singular piece of content to appear in multiple places on the site (or even in an application), but for it to be styled in a way that is suitable for its context. Imagine trying to read a 600-word news article on an Apple Watch… it’s not happening.

Away with WordPress?

Whilst we see Contentful as an alternative to WordPress, it won’t always be a replacement. We will always recommend what is best for the project in hand. But as we explore new projects with new clients, we are beginning to see an increased desire for content ownership, and a headless CMS is the perfect solution here.

For our existing WordPress-based clients, we are in the process of upgrading and retooling our systems to allow for present-day and future JS development. By thinking ahead, we are preempting many of the products, features or services that your clients may want to add to their sites.

Wider use of JS also means that we can write cleaner and more efficient code – something that we feel is essential to the way we work. When websites are more economical, they have a lower carbon footprint. And no, that doesn’t mean we can add more pages. But it does mean that we are helping our clients think of their web presence the same way that you’d think about your vehicle’s emissions or your house’s insulation. It all matters, digital or physical.



Staying ahead of the curve

Once upon a time, we just built marketing and brochure websites using WordPress exclusively. We moved away from that exclusivity and over the last few years we’ve broadened not only our tech stack and skillset, but the types of projects that we work on.

Today, we are building platforms, dashboards, front ends, back ends, applications, mobile sites and more. We can only do this by introducing new technology as we discover a need for it.

By doing so, we are in a position to say “yes” to our clients’ brilliant ideas, no matter how bold and brave.

Using the best tools for the job isn’t optional, it’s essential.

Join the team

Would you like to be a part of the team? Check out our careers page to see our tech team vacancies.