I hear you say – if DIY website builders exist, why should I hire a professional web developer?
Because web developers are paid to use the best tools of the trade and stay on the pulse of industry trends, best practices, and strategies to help businesses succeed online. But that doesn’t mean you can assume that every web design agency uses the right web development tools for your business’s needs.
If you want to build a website that is ultrafast, capable of scaling up at short notice, and totally unique to your brand, then a standard drag-and-drop website builder just won’t cut it.
To help you understand more about web development tools and discern which web design agency can help your business, we’ll be talking about the best web development software for 2021.
We’ll discuss 5 leading platforms, why they’re good, and why they’re not so good:
Let’s get started.
The Top 5 Web Development Tools For 2021
Ah, good old WordPress, the OG content management system powering 35% of all websites on the internet.
A household name for web developers, writers, and Millenials, WordPress is relatively easy to use for one crucial reason – it’s an open-source platform.
An open-source web development tool is constantly being improved over time, with countless tutorials teaching you how to use it, and thousands of plug-ins to adapt your website for different functions, features, and capabilities.
The main benefits of WordPress include:
Cost-effective (free or an inexpensive monthly subscription)
The popularity and accessibility of WordPress make it a go-to option for a small business with standard web design goals.
But, just because WordPress is easy and accessible doesn’t mean it’s the best option, especially for growing businesses who need a powerful platform to drive their digital strategy.
The plug-ins and extensions are a selling point for WordPress, allowing users to continuously adapt and change their templated website to make it more original. Unfortunately, too many plug-ins and adaptations slow your website down.
Although WordPress is hugely popular, its biggest let down is speed and agility. Business owners who want a powerful website should invest in a tech stack that beats WordPress – powered by a full-stack web developer.
If you’ve not already been bombarded with the ads on YouTube, you’ll soon see that Wix is an increasingly popular web development tool. And they’ve really upped the ante on their outbound marketing!
It’s a slick drag-and-drop website builder, with an interface that makes creating an online platform seem effortless. Atleast, from a front-end perspective and to someone who isn’t a web developer.
There’s an important distinction to make between website builder platforms like Wix and web development tools like Gatsby.
Putting your business’s website on Wix is like renting an apartment. You can customise the decor (within reason) and make it look nice, but you can’t alter the architecture of the apartment – create an open-plan living room or build a bigger garage for your new Tesla, for example.
That’s where web development tools like Gatsby stand out – the possibilities are limitless.
Although Wix has over 500 templates to choose from, that still puts a limit on what you can do with a Wix website. Even if you work with a web designer, they can’t flex their coding muscles in such a restrictive framework.
As well as being dependent on Wix as a host, if your website runs into any issues – if the site crashes or your customers experience technical trouble – you’re forced to speak to an international customer service representative. They’ll have no idea who you are or what your business is, as you’re one of the 100 million people using the platform – there sure is a downside to bragging about your customer numbers, Wix 😉
Gatsby is known and loved in the web development community. It is held in high regard for running the fastest websites on the internet.
Page load speed is one of the most important elements of web design. While you might dismiss page load speed as a metric that’s only important to tech nerds, you’ll actually find that the speed of your website directly affects your bottom line as a business.
Unlike WordPress, Wix, and other dynamic web builders, Gatsby is a site generator that makes static content. This means that Gatsby creates and stores your HTML (the content of your website) and has it there ready for whatever lucky duck clicks on your company’s website.
You might be like, “big deal, I’m not paying for that!” but you might change your tune when you see how much more attention, retention, and not to mention sales, you’ll receive when you have a website built with Gatsby.
Perhaps the only downside to choosing Gatsby is that, unless you’re a genius or you have all the time in the world, you have to be an experienced web developer to use it. This means losing the idea of a DIY website – but if you take your digital marketing seriously, that was never on the agenda anyway.
On top of this, you’ll find that your web developer loves working with Gatsby. It’s a joy to use, agile and responsive, which will make building your business’s platform so much easier and a more creative experience for the professionals you hire.
Bootstrap is one of the most powerful web development tools. We’ll try and explain it without boring you with the jargon.
Bootstrap helps to make responsive and mobile-driven websites. A responsive website is one that changes to look proportional regardless of the size of the browser window. This is crucial, because over half of all online traffic comes from smartphone users. If your website doesn’t adapt to mobile, you lose customers – simple.
For web developers, Bootstrap is an intuitive web development tool because it has pre-prepared components that help designers build essential website features – such as navigation bars, dropdown menus, progress bars, and thumbnails – without fluffing around with time-consuming code.
What this means is that your web developer spends less time on the boring foundation-level stuff, and more time crafting the clever bits that impress your customers.
However, the pre-built, IKEA table-style framework still restricts originality and creativity.
Tailwind CSS is a utility-first CSS framework. Tailwind is a CSS like Bootstrap, but it differs because it is utility-based.
Unlike Bootstrap, which is based on pre-made components like progress bars or alerts that do a lot of the hard work for developers, Tailwind offers the utilities to build your own components.
This results in custom components, which lead to a website that is totally unique and tailored to your brand.
What business wouldn’t want their website to be fresh and custom? It may take more time and effort to make a completely unique website, but it’s worth the investment.
That’s the high-level stuff, now let’s go a bit deeper into why Tailwind CSS is changing the game for web development tools in 2021.
Tailwind automatically removes and compresses unused CSS, all the arbitrary bits that don’t support the final production. A bloated CSS is the main culprit of a slow website, such as a WordPress platform with tons of plug-ins, so having a neatly packaged CSS leverages the speed of your website.
This web development tool is at the cutting edge of programs used by designers in 2021, so if you’re looking for a website that leverages your business against competitors, this is it.
Plus, if you see it in a web designer’s repertoire, you know you’re dealing with experts who know what they’re doing.