GitHub & Version Control

What is it?

At its core, GitHub is a website and cloud-based service helping developers store and modify their code whilst changes are tracked and stored like a special type of database. This way, if anything goes wrong or a bug arises, developers can role back to previous versions and adjust their code from there. This is called version control, helping developers track and manage changes on the code of a project. The ‘Git’ in GitHub represents a specific open-source version control system, it is also distributed, meaning that a codebase or project is available on each developer’s computer providing the ability for easy branching, typically through the command line interface.

 

Version Control

Essentially, version control helps a developer, or a team of developers, track changes and manage those changes. If it is a large project for example, you can imagine the complexity of the codebase and without version control, you would have a one absolute base without the ability to roll back to previous changes easily. A good example of this is WordPress, an open-source software used to make websites, blogs and apps. If a developer needed to make a change to a component within WordPress, it would be a risky task if directly modifying the source code, so instead, version control allows branching and merging.

Branching is the process of duplicating the source code, that exists within a repository, where the developer can then make changes to the specific code base necessary. Once any changes have been made, the developer can then merge the code into the main source code, making it ‘official.’ Obviously, all these changes are now tracked and can be reverted if it was ever needed.

 

GitHub

Now version control and Git has been explained, it is good to understand how the interface of GitHub works and how to use its version control abilities. Take a look below to see how it works;

  • Repository
    A repository or ‘repo,’ is the base location where all the files for a project are stored, it can have folders and any type of files (HTML, CSS, JS, Images and more).

 

  • Forking a Repo
    ‘Forking’ is the process of creating a new project based on another project that already exists. For example, if you see a project you like and want to make changes to do, you can fork that repository, make any necessary changes you need to and release that project as a new repo. Any changes made to the original repo, such as updates, can then be added to your current fork if needed.

 

  • Pull Request
    After forking a repository and making changes to it, a developer can then pursue a Pull Request for those changes to be included with the initial and official repository of that project, allowing you to be recognised by the original developers. GitHub provides a medium for you and the main projects developers to communicate and decide whether or not it should be included officially.

 

  • Branch
    A branch allows for a developer to work with different versions of a repo at the same time, where you can a default master branch (production) and every branch after that is a copy of the master branch. Creating new branches allows for bugs to be fixed and once it is ready, can be merged back into the master branch.

 

  • Commits
    Any changes made to files in a repository are called commits, which are tracked and allow for a developer to explain what they have done with this code change.

 

The good thing about GitHub is that it is relatively user friendly for people who don’t have much programming or command line knowledge. Its interface is so easy, that it’s even used to store personal projects that aren’t code based, such as books. However, if you’re a developer or have a team of developers working on a project, GitHub makes it easy to track the progress and mitigate any problems that could arise throughout development.

Another major advantage of GitHub is that it can integrate with many common platforms, like Amazon and Google Cloud – allowing for a team of developers within an organisation to work with many different programming languages and platforms.

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Avatar for Matthew Matthew 25th October 2019 0 Comments
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Elements of a Top-Notch Website

When leads are dwindling and business is not-so-booming, the last place business owners look for blame is their website. This is often because many business owners believe a website is a one-time investment; a marketing asset that they invest in once and then leave to its own devices, in the hope that it will continue to reap the same benefits that it always did.

A website is the face of a brand and it’s what gives a brand’s customers and potential customers that ‘first impression’. In order to make that first impression count, there are certain essential design and development elements that every website must possess in order to succeed in 2019.

As the world of web is constantly evolving and social trends are continuously changing, we believe that a website should be regularly reviewed and developed in order to continue performing well.  Here we highlight the elements that we believe make a great website.

 

The Right CMS

A CMS (or Content Management System) is the backend infrastructure of a website that helps users create, manage, and modify the content, without the need for specialist technical knowledge.

Using the right CMS can be the difference between success and failure for businesses, as the CMS used, fundamentally determines the functionality and potential capabilities of a website.

The most commonly used (and our personal favourite) CMS, is WordPress, which powers over 75 million websites worldwide. WordPress is a free and open-source CMS with over 30,000 themes and 55,000 plugins available; allowing for simplified website customisation.

 

A Reliable Website Host

A website host is a remote server where a website’s files, content, and information are stored.

A successful business will always use a reliable and reputable hosting service for their website. Doing so ensures:

  • Optimal website performance
  • Technical Support
  • Regular site backups
  • Minimal downtime

Did you know that we offer hosting services from as little as £20 per month? Find out more about our hosting services here.

 

A Valid SSL Certificate

An SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate is a digital certificate that creates a secure layer between a website and a user’s browser; enabling an encrypted (secure) connection.

Having an SSL certificate can help prevent hackers from stealing sensitive information, such as credit card details by using encryption methods. Not only does a website with an SSL certificate provide an element of trust for users, but it can also have SEO benefits as Google will more often than not, prioritise secure sites over insecure sites in its search rankings.

Wondering how to identify a website with an SSL certificate? Take a look at the website URL; if it starts with HTTPS rather than HTTP it means it means the site is secure and using an SSL certificate (the additional ‘S’ standing for secure).

Did you know that if you have your website hosted by us, we will include an SSL certificate as standard?

 

A Clean and Professional Design

A well-designed website should be simple, yet professional and should always compliment the content rather than distract from it.

We believe the following makes for a clean and professional looking website:

  • A strong but limited colour palette
  • Consistency with fonts for all headings, subheadings and body text
  • Ample white (or negative) space
  • High-quality images, placed consistently across the site
  • Clear and concise content

 

The SEO Basics

We believe that every website should be fully optimised with SEO best practices in mind, as standard, however, we also understand that for many this either isn’t possible, within budget or just isn’t a priority.

That said, we do maintain that every website should at least include the SEO basics, such as:

  • High-quality content that is relevant and unique
  • Good loading speed
  • Optimised for relevant keywords
  • High-quality backlink profile
  • Mobile responsiveness

 

Mobile-Friendly / Responsiveness

A website that is mobile-friendly, is a website that is responsive (and works) on all mobile devices and screen sizes.

A website can be designed by the best web designer in the world, but if it isn’t optimised for mobile devices, it’s pretty much pointless, now that over 51% of Google searches come from mobile devices.

These days, any reputable web design agency will create mobile responsive websites as standard practice.

 

Straightforward Navigation

We don’t want to struggle to find what we are looking for on a website; we want to be able to navigate our way through without being overwhelmed with unnecessary content.

Having an easy to use and intuitive navigation on a website helps to guide users through the website and to the next stage of their journey.

A website with simple navigation will usually include:

  • A prominent or easy to find menu
  • Limited menu items
  • Clear navigation back to the homepage from any location on the site
  • Clear navigation to contact page from any location on the site
  • Search bar functionality

A site that includes a search bar feature allows users to take control of their experience on the site by giving them the ability to find exactly what they are looking for, straight away.

 

High-Quality Images

Webpages that rank the highest in search results have on average 7 images included on the page that they rank highly for.

Using high quality and eye-catching images help to convey messages and break up content, whilst also improving the sites overall appearance.

 

A 404 page

A 404 page is a page that appears when a user attempts to access or manages to find a page that no longer exists.

It’s inevitable that this will occur on occasion, and the best way to deal with, or prepare for this eventuality, is to create a smashing 404 page.

We believe that if your 404 page is to include nothing else – ensure that at the very least – it includes the following:

  • A sentence to explain that they have encountered an error
  • An apology
  • A clear option to navigate back to your homepage

*Bonus points for including humour.

 

Strong Call to Actions

A call to action is a piece content (such as a button) on a website that created that encourages a user to perform a specific action such as signing up to a newsletter, providing contact details or signing up to a free trial.

A great call to action is one of the most important website components for successful businesses; it’s what encourages their users to do what they want them to do once they have landed on their website.

 

Reviews and Testimonials

A website is a great start for providing users with information about a business and also creating that all-important first impression. But, there’s nothing that will demonstrate social proof and create trust more than splashing good reviews and testimonials across a website.

We love finding websites that shout about their happy customers and backing it up with genuine reviews and testimonials.

 

Conclusion

Looking to improve your website’s usability? Or maybe just think it’s time for a tidy up here and there?

If you’re feeling like your website isn’t performing as well as it used to, is no longer gaining the traffic that it used to, or needs a refresh, get in touch with us. Not only are we experts in all things web design and development but we are also skilled with the knowledge and experience to help market your website.

Try Square Media as your outsourced marketing team today!

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Avatar for Matthew Matthew 6th September 2019 0 Comments

Cyber Essentials: Our security promise to you

Cyber Essentials is a joint venture between the government and related industries working together to create a scheme for a business/organisation to increase their cyber security and reduce any threats that could occur.

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Avatar for Matthew Matthew 27th June 2019 0 Comments

Cross-Browser Testing and Its Importance

Cross-browser testing is a method of non-functional testing making sure your website or application is functional across multiple browsers. This is necessary because each web browser follows a set of standards (Open Web Standards) but all interpret them separately, rendering HTML, CSS and JavaScript differently.

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Avatar for Matthew Matthew 4th June 2019 0 Comments

The Benefits of Using WordPress

We love WordPress here at Square Media, so here are the top benefits of using wordpress as your Content Management System.

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Avatar for Matthew Matthew 15th May 2019 0 Comments

We’ve Had a Rebrand!

If you keep up to date with us or follow us on social media, you have probably noticed that things are looking a little bit different… And that’s because we’ve had a rebrand! We have come a long way since Square Media was founded in 2013. We've undergone a significant transformation; introducing many new services, [...]

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10 Essential WordPress Plugins for Online Businesses

There are so many Wordpress plugins out there, it can get a bit confusing. Here are our top 10 Wordpress plugins for online businesses.

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Post Launch Website Tips – How to Maintain Your Site for Better Business

There’s so much talk about creating the perfect platform to wow audiences, entice customers and outdo competitors, but once your website is up and running the fun shouldn’t stop there. A website has to be kept up to date to ensure it’s performing as well as it should do. For many businesses, their website sits [...]

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Avatar for administrator administrator 18th April 2018 0 Comments

Planning Your Ecommerce Website – Top Tips for Success

The UK market offers some excellent potential for ecommerce businesses looking to serve a multitude of marketplaces. According to We Are Social, 92% of the UK’s population are internet users, and with that online retail trade is on the rise. The growth of online sales doesn’t seem to be slowed by our impending departure from [...]

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Avatar for administrator administrator 10th April 2018 0 Comments

WordPress Gets the Google Treatment – Dedicated Team to Overhaul our Favourite CMS

It’s no secret, we love a bit of WordPress. In fact, we develop a lot of WordPress websites, giving our clients the easy to manage platforms they need to better represent their business online. Needless to say, the latest news regarding Google paying special attention to WordPress was music to our ears. The development of [...]

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Avatar for administrator administrator 10th February 2018 0 Comments