Archive | September, 2016

My Interview with a Full Stack Developer

28 Sep
I recently had the opportunity to chat with Ryan Olson, a full stack developer (FSD) at VIA Marketing. Ryan was super excited to tell me all about what he can do for our clients in the age of new and emerging technologies. However, in our conversation I found that Ryan Olson and FSDs are from a different planet and speak their own language. As a bonus to you the reader, I will ATTEMPT to translate his amazing, brilliant, genius answers for you to plain and simple English.

Michelle: Okay Ryan, what exactly is a full stack developer?
Ryan: Many people may have never heard this term. A full stack developer will think through the functionality of a website during the creative stages and then move to writing code in HTML using CSS3, JavaScript, and Ajax. Then they move to the back-end, using PHP and MySQL to create complex and advanced functions on the server. Full stack developers are skilled and comfortable working in both front-end and back-end environments.

This means: A full stack developer is very smart and many times is a graduate from Purdue. Go Boilermakers! This person makes a website work. They integrate what you see and click on (front-end) with all of the coding and database technology that you don’t see (back-end). Your website needs to have someone with solid programming skills to customize functions. A functioning website makes everyone’s life easier – believe it or not, it’s true.

Michelle: What do you do for our clients?
Ryan: I get involved with the UI/UX aspect of the site and work closely with the designers to bring ideas and mock-ups to life. Having a wide skill set in many programming languages, I can easily transition from one language to another to collaborate on conceptual designs and offer insight on how to enhance functions so they work across a variety of platforms like desktop and mobile. Being versed in server side scripts, such as MySQL and PHP, I work to make sure nothing is lost along the way.

This translation: Ryan understands how today’s websites are supposed to look and function. Ryan will not leave you in 1995. While gallantly avoiding missteps that make many other websites look like train wrecks, he also ensures the security and proper management of your content and data.

Wondering about UI/UX? This term is used a lot by developers and not really by the rest of us, but if you want a good website it should concern you:
UI = User Interface, i.e. visual design
UX = User Experience, i.e. the visitor’s interaction with your website.

Another acronym Ryan uses freely (like we all know what he’s talking about) is server side scripts: MySQL and PHP. This is a block of code written for a specific function that is controlled by the server. By the way, client-side scripts are code that are controlled by your computer. An example would be desktop roll-over effects. Is your head hurting yet? Mine is. Okay, just think what happens when your mouse moves over thingies on your website and then something really cool happens. That is just one of the many, many things Ryan makes happen.


Michelle: So as you are at the forefront of what is the latest and greatest, what emerging technologies should we be aware of?
Ryan: Experience Design (ED). As more and more users move away from desktops and do their web browsing and shopping on mobile and tablet devices, we will start to see new scripts being created for those devices. In the last year we saw the advancement of smart watches with Internet connectability. Thinking about how users experience and use the device will help us come up with creative ways to enhance your customer’s experience when they try to access your website. This is different than user experience (UX) in the sense that UX is how one flows through the content. Experience Design is what the user experiences while using the device. On a smart watch, they may be out for a jog, or out shopping and need to look something up. How accessible is that information?

What you need to know: Devices change, apps change, and your marketing needs to advance with it. We need to be aware of what people are actually using and why they are drawn to it. We’d venture to guess that you are reading this article on your phone right now.

Take a look and think about your website and how it functions across different devices. We need to be where people want us and it has to be good – even on someone’s tiny, practical, accessible wrist.

To find out more about where your company needs to be and how to get there, get in touch with Julie at VIA Marketing at: or call 219.769.2299