Why have we made a new website?
Our motivation was simple – our old website had a heavily outdated design and was difficult to add content. Adding projects and keeping the website regularly up to date became a task in itself. As a mobile-first software development company, our old website really struggled to showcase our abilities and understanding of mobile-first design and execution.
Since the first TouchSoft website was developed in 2012, we’ve come far. The team has grown exponentially from a team of two skilled developers, to eleven highly talented individuals covering server development, iOS & Android app development, account management – and in January 2017 I joined as the lead designer and web developer to further add to the skillset, allowing us to provide a wider range of services.
We wanted a new website that reflected our organic growth as a company, as well as something to show our wonderful personalities. (Click here to meet the team!)
A user-oriented website
According to our research, over 70% of our website visits come from mobile and tablet combined. As a company that works primarily with mobile, we understood from the get go that a mobile-first approach is key for us to showcase our understanding of the medium, and that’s exactly what we’ve done.
We’ve revised over and over again the most important links on the site and determined the bits you’d want to see first, taking every breakpoint of every section into consideration – cutting out content and reordering when necessary, all whilst trying to retain the lovely, simple design and usability on all devices.
The techy stuff
A solid Foundation
We needed a reliable frontend framework in place for backwards compatibility, cross-browser support and future scalability. We also didn’t want another Bootstrap-looking theme like every other agency out there. We opted for Foundation, which is highly versatile and (in my opinion) a better looking alternative. This, combined with Node.js and Browsersync allowed rapid changes to be made across multiple platforms and screen sizes, essentially cutting our development time in half.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
For our backend, we wanted something that is easy to use, well supported and reliable – something we could just leave and not have to worry about. WordPress, although it gets a lot of stick, is an incredibly powerful CMS that is trusted by millions upon millions of users every day – including some of the world’s biggest names – The New Yorker, Sony Music, MTV News, Techcrunch and BBC America just to name a few.
Having WordPress under the bonnet means our team can login and write blog posts with ease, and we can very easily add projects and pages as we like. Because it is essentially a PHP framework, WordPress also allows for as much versatility as we’d need in future, combined with a huge community of open-source plugin developers, we can tap into any additional features we need whilst saving a lot of time we’d lose trying to reinvent the wheel. In a couple of clicks we can have an amazing cache and a suite of free security tools.
Hi-ho silver, away!
Our old website had the advantage of fast page loading times by not using a database to retrieve information before a page loads. Furthermore, it’s important to optimise a website for a mobile device to ensure fast loading times and low data usage when you’re using mobile data. In an attempt to retain a lot of the speed that having a database would otherwise slow down, we’ve switched over to a new, super fast cloud hosting provider.
For fast DNS switching and added security, we’re using Cloudflare. This gives us the benefit of almost instant DNS propagation (No more waiting around for 48 hours), masks our IP through a proxy service and allows us to see any potential threats and malicious attacks. As well as this, Cloudflare has a caching service which helps to increase page load time, combined with our own server side caching guarantees lightning fast page loads.
At our core, we develop software. But in 5 years the company has grown into other areas of the market, becoming an all in one solution for digital transformation not only for startups, but for multinational businesses operating on a large scale. We’d like to think we’ve done a bit of transforming ourselves with our new website!
Or if you prefer, you can come visit us at our shiny new office in The Sharp Project, which is just east of Manchester City Centre.