Custom web development is the process of adding custom functionality to a website using a programming language. This functionality can be as simple as displaying the most recent news articles on a website or it can be more involved such as building a chatroom for a social networking site or building e-commerce functionality. As the web has evolved a lot of what used to require custom programming can now be done using plugins or other libraries that can be configured to work as needed. However, there’s typically some level of custom web development that is needed for all but the simplest of websites. Unlike web design, which focuses on the aesthetics and layout of a website, custom web development involves building the functionality, features, and backend systems that power a website. It goes beyond the surface level to provide a fully customized solution that aligns with a client’s goals and objectives.
At Pinpoint Digital we provide both custom web development services as well as custom web design services. The following are a few examples of custom web development projects. Many of our larger custom web development projects are covered under NDA’s so we can only share broader details. Note that while these are examples of large applications that we built, a lot of the custom web development that we do is for smaller projects and tasks. For example, adding events functionality or e-commerce functionality to a website are both examples of custom development tasks that we do on a regular basis. In many cases we’re able to leverage existing plugins (such as the WooCommerce plugin for WordPress) or modules to add in functionality so that no actual development is needed, thus saving both time and money on a project.
- We created a shipment tracking solution that was used by a Fortune 100 consumer product goods company for several years before they switched to an off-the-shelf solution. This system ingested tracking data (coordinates and sometimes temperature) that was sent by tractors and trailers in the U.S. and Europe. We imported data from shippers and carriers into the system and then married up all of this data to dashboards and other information through a web interface. Users were able to see detailed information about the shipments and their current status as well as other alerts and relevant information. We provided robust reporting tools as well as implemented various business logic to determine when a shipment was in some state of alert. The data provided accurate information about arrival and departure times at various facilities and enabled them to dispute inaccurate reports by carriers thus resulting in significant savings.
- We created a reverse logistics workflow management system that allowed for a Fortune 100 consumer products goods company to automate their process of handling merchandise that is refused by their customers.
- We created a workflow management solution for a regional water authority that needed to publish outages to their customers. This project involved also developing a custom content management system.
- We created an online learning management system for a cardiologist helping medical students study for their STEP 1 boards.
- We worked with a regional hospital network to enable their member partners to review fee schedule information from insurance companies so that they could easily lookup CPT billing codes and see their compensation for various medical tasks.
- We created NoCodeGuides.io which is a marketplace for experts in NoCode tools to offer mentoring and project work. We sold it in 2023.
While we have worked on large web development projects we also do custom development in many of the smaller sites that we build. Our process involves the following steps.
The first step is to understand the requirements for the functionality. For smaller development tasks this may just involve an exchange of emails with the client. In other larger projects we have a thorough requirements development phase to understand the exact business requirements for what needs to be built. We collaborate closely with our clients to understand their vision, goals, and the problem they are trying to solve or the opportunity they have uncovered. This stage involves detailed discussions and research to gather all the necessary information. We then develop a specifications document, similar to a blueprint, that outlines exactly what needs to be built.
If this is a standalone web application that’s not part of an existing website then we’ll often do a design phase. Otherwise we’ll add the functionality into an existing design. The design phase can be crucial in shaping the look and feel of the web application. We offer multiple levels of design involvement, depending on the specific needs of each project. We strive to create an engaging and intuitive web application.
Once the discovery and design phases are complete, we have a comprehensive blueprint to guide us through the implementation stage. We start programming the web application and bring the functionality to life. We start by building out the HTML and CSS from the design. While we’ll likely load this HTML and CSS into a content management system, we do still start with the raw HTML. We primarily do development using the PHP programming language and are typically doing this with the WordPress content management system (CMS) or the Laravel framework. WordPress is an open source CMS that has become the most popular way to build websites. It provides an easy to use interface for updating sites and allows you to easily edit content doing things such as formatting text and embedding videos. It has a huge ecosystem of plugins with most of them freely available. Plugins allow you to extend WordPress without having to personally do the development. By simply installing a plugin you can add features such as live chat, SEO optimization and performance enhancements to your site. We also have experience using other languages such as Java and ColdFusion. While Java is a very popular language, ColdFusion has lost its popularity and is now considered a legacy language.
Testing, Testing and More Testing
We conduct rigorous testing and quality assurance at multiple levels throughout the project, aiming to identify and resolve any bugs or defects. While we try to find all potential issues it’s likely some things will slip through. Once we’re done with our own testing we invite our clients to do testing as well and go through multiple rounds of testing to ensure that when the application is released to real users that they have a seamless experience. The following are some examples of things that our clients have come back with in the past.
- Wanting a page to print properly. We address this by adding a stylesheet for printing.
- Requesting that a slider go slower than it does so people can spend more time seeing the content.
- Adjusting what’s included in an RSS feed.
- Design elements not rendering properly in a certain browser and requiring some CSS updates.
- Session lengths being too short and deciding that a person should remain logged into longer before being automatically logged out due to inactivity.
The launch of a new web application is an exciting milestone for both us and our clients. We work diligently to ensure a smooth and successful launch, monitoring the results closely. We address any issues that arise during this phase and make necessary adjustments to optimize the application’s performance.
Our commitment to our clients extends beyond the launch. We offer ongoing maintenance and support services to address any issues that users may encounter and to incorporate any feedback provided. As the application gathers real-world feedback, we proactively add new features and functionality to enhance its capabilities and meet evolving user needs. We also can provide content maintenance for websites so that our clients don’t even have to do simple edits.
We also offer our own hosting and work with other hosting providers. We maintain our own servers which allows us to ensure that we get the best performance possible. By having complete access to the server we are able to ensure that they are optimized properly. For example, we can ensure that the web server software, Apache, is properly tuned to get the best performance possible.
At Pinpoint Digital we offer complete custom web development services for organizations of all sizes. We invite you to contact us today to discuss your next project.