What Is Design, Server Side and Client Side Development? .

31297  What is design

What Is Design?

As lead server-side developer at Sagittarius, I’m always in awe of designers. A pitch document we received recently had an amazing array of source websites for us to look at incorporate in to the design. Then you have to take the clients brief and distil huge amounts of ideas and changes, which are usually in client specific terminology. I always liken the designer to an architect who through forethought, incite, and passion sell us not what is, but what could be.

They have to deal with the smallest of details, if something is out by a few pixels they will know. Is that font choice too understated or is it too much. You cannot underestimate the importance of a good designer. The life or death of you website and probably your online revenue depends upon them.

Just like a real life architect sometimes it’s difficult to realise real world costs with the dream they would like to see realised. But this and a myriad of other nuisances is what makes design such a great job to be in.

What Is Server-Side?

Don’t call yourself a programmer: “Programmer” sounds like “anomalously high-cost peon who types some mumbo-jumbo into some other mumbo-jumbo.” But regardless, programming is what server side developers do.

Constantly producing thousands of lines of code to make a website work the way you want. We are the builders that produce the foundation and physical frame on which everything else depends.

When you arrive on your website and the website appears at all, that’s our work. That button you click that sends you an email, that was crafted by us and we are passionate about it.

We care that the things we produce are reusable, testable and have proper separation of concerns. It’s a difficult thing for an outsider to understand when we get excited about a screen like this.

But when a designer gets excited about beautiful choice of font and colour we get excited that it uses three tiered architecture with dependency injection and mocking. No I don’t expect you to know what any of those things mean.

The flip side is we are the people who work late hours trying to fix things that have gone wrong. When your website moves to new hosting in the middle of the night that’s the server side team. If a client side developer messes up your site might go lime green, if we mess up the site might not open at all.

This paragraph below says why it’s such a great job to be in though

"The programmer, like the poet, works only slightly removed from pure thought-stuff. He builds castles in the air, from air, creating by exertion of the imagination. Few media of creation are so flexible, so easy to polish and rework, so readily capable of realizing grand conceptual structures. Yet the program construct, unlike the poet's words, is real in the sense that it moves and works, producing visible outputs separate from the construct itself. It prints results, draws pictures, produces sounds."

What Is Client-Side?

Can you imagine if a builder built you a house without an architect or an interior decorator? I imagine it would be four walls, no windows that’s a structural weakness. A concrete floor, a steel roof and solid steel prison door for ultimate security. Who needs plaster or paint on the walls brick is fine.

I’m sure no builder would actually do that although I make no promises! Anybody who has watched DIY SOS or the like knows they always have an interior decorator on hand.

That for me is what a client side developer does on a daily basis. Taking the mundane and making it take life. The designer dreams but without the client side developers hard work it would never become a real breathing website.

They have to deal with some quite horrific issues, can you imagine having to write a 10,000 page document. But you have to write it in nine different word processors. None of which work with one another.

At the time of writing there are nine major browsers IE 7, IE 8, IE 9, Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Safari mac, Firefox mac, Chrome mac. Don’t even get them started on the mobile browsers, if you’re lucky you only need to worry about Safari, Chrome, Opera, and Opera mini for the iPhone, Android, IPad and Nexus.

As you can see trying to build and test for everything is an absolute horror. Each browser has its own subtle nuances different in browser security, default font sizes, borders etc. All these issues can be overcome but never doubt that the industry is constantly changing and its client side developer’s job to stay on top.

It sounds like it’s a terrible job to be in doesn’t it. Which considering how happy the developers I work with are, you must think they are a bit S&M! But to see a design being brought to life by your own ability can you imagine why you wouldn’t get immense satisfaction and joy from being a client side developer?

Whatever your business, be it a regional or global brand, the content you produce plays a vital role in your success. You know that… hence you’re reading this.

A well formulated and executed content strategy not only drives more traffic, at the core, it defines what your business is and helps build a strong connection between you and your audiences.

So let's quickly look at why developing a coherent content strategy is important and how setting clear goals and understanding your audience will elevate your online performance. 

What is a Content Strategy?

It's basic right? Content is at the core of how you define the way your business presents itself and an effective strategy should look to ensure that tone of voice, messaging and the core values are surfaced across all channels, from service or product pages on your website, to blog posts, through social media updates blah blah blah.

But let's keep it simple - your content strategy should be a clear roadmap that connects your marketing activities to your business goals. Align to your customer’s wants and needs and engage them at every interaction point and boom, you're in business. 

Who are my Audience?

You likely start all your projects with this chalked on the wall because your business knows “exactly” who its customers are right? Sounds obvious but we often find its not been done forensically enough (not based on data), is too old (more than 12 months ago - forget it) or its a spin off from some brand work that was legitimately aspirational but doesn’t face the reality of who you your business is actually engaging today.

So start (or circle back) with audience research, building out those personas to understand their ambitions, their lifestyle, their pain points or concerns, and crucially their wants and needs - in your context. 

Do I need to tailor content?

As part of your research find out where your audiences spend their time online and how they interact with content: Some may spend time thoroughly researching a product or service, whereas other audiences may want their content to be quick, snappy or easily digestible in the form of a video, infographic or short blog posts.


Ultimately, the key is to produce a strategy that creates the type of content your customers want to see:

  • What are the problems that your product or service will help them solve?

  • Who are they most influenced by?

  • What voices influence their behaviour?

  • What type of content do they consume?

  • Where do they consume content and engage with brands?

Different Content, Different Objectives

 All content is not born equal: When producing your strategy, it is important that the objectives for each individual piece are defined, that these fulfil your marketing objectives and tie to the overarching goals for your business.

There are various content frameworks that exist to aid content development in this way, but one that is popular and effective is Google’s hero, hub and hygiene method: It provides a framework on developing content to achieve different goals and gives guidance on the effort needed to create each type of content.

Hero Content

Hero content is essentially campaign content, it is big splash ideas designed to appeal to a large audience with the aim of telling your brand’s story at scale. 

Ways of measuring hero include the amount of PR mentions or links from authoritative domains plus social interactions and mentions of your brand across all channels. 

Considering the scale of hero campaigns, this content is not regularly produced and is reserved for peak promotional times where it’s important for a business to stand out from their competitors.

Hub Content

Hub content is the stuff that keeps your audience engaged, it expands on the themes of product or service level content, educates users and helps create a connection between themselves and your brand.

Hygiene Content

Hygiene content is the bread and butter of any website, it is the BAU content for products and services, it is SEO focused and targets important keywords at a product, service or guide level.

How do I manage all this?

Content development is only one part of the ongoing work needed when working with an effective content strategy. We call it “feeding the beast” because it really is the fuel in your brand vehicle and once you start you really can’t stop (if it’s delivering results) but that’s where performance measurement comes in.

Your greatest gift in managing the outputs from your hero/hub/hygiene style efforts is to understand If your content is working. To truly deliver results your business must first understand the objectives and goals of each piece of content to effectively measure its success. That as a guiding light from day 1 will let you slow down, speed up, stop or start new content briefs and projects.

Remember - content strategies are not set in stone. They are living breathing things and should adapt and pivot as insights become available and your brand naturally evolves.

If ever you want to chat content and explore new initiatives we’re always here to help.

want to speak to one of our experts?

Richard Brisley
Richard Brisley
Tech Lead
Richard is the longest standing member of the Sagittarius team, he works tirelessly to support the development and side-facing team with problem solving and pitches alike. His skills as a .NET programmer and database administrator have been paramount to the success of Sagittarius and our continued success. 

In 2016 and again in 2019 Richard was recognise in the BIMA 100 awards for his outstanding work in Tech, his passion for digital and his contribution to the industry. 

Richard Brisley

Richard Brisley

21 Jul 2014 - 5 minute read
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