Technically Speaking With…Adrienne Cregar Jandler

AdrienneCregarThis month’s “Technically Speaking With” column provides an in-depth discussion with Adrienne Cregar Jandler, Founder and President of Atlantic Webworks, based out of Greensboro, NC. With the combined skill sets of both a master marketer and a savvy developer, Adrienne brings a well-rounded sensibility to the table. Be sure to read the entire interview to get her take on the benefits of ColdFusion, useful tips for any developer, and some emerging trends in the industry.

NTS: What scope of services do you offer and where is your client base?

AC: We offer comprehensive web development and lifecycle services. What that means is that we specialize in strategically developing websites (and custom web applications), and also provide the full complement of services that are needed throughout its lifecycle – hosting, SEO, marketing, support, etc.  We’ve been in business for 13 years, and our client base spans the United States, with a small number of clients in Europe as well.

NTS: How did you end up in the designer/developer industry?

AC: My background (and education) includes both marketing and technology. Developing a site – from the strategy through the design, development,launch and post-launch marketing – involves a perfect marriage of both. At the time I started the firm, sites were still more what I’d consider ‘brochureware’; more visual and informational than functional. I saw an opportunity to help B2B clients not only increase their exposure through the web, but to utilize the available technologies to streamline their processes, increase sales and improve their communications.

NTS: There are various coding languages available to developers, and you’ve chosen to specialize in ColdFusion. What prompted that choice?

AC: I’ve always been a huge fan of ColdFusion, and used it myself (remember Allaire?) when I actually did the site development in the early days.  ColdFusion, as a language, is more linear in its logic, is very clean, and allows us to keep our code streamlined; it isn’t unnecessarily verbose.

NTS: Do your clients ask for ColdFusion, or get involved in specifying it?

AC: Most clients are not focused on the language we use unless they will have in-house people modifying our work or if we will be expanding already existing projects. So much of what we build for the client allows them to modify their sites using our CMS, that it usually isn’t a question. And of course, my development team can –and does – work with other languages when that is the client’s preference. Our clients depend on us to use (and provide) the very best technology and to guide them with the necessary decisions. When we discuss why we choose ColdFusion, clients can understand and appreciate keeping code streamlined; I think they see the value in that.

NTS: In terms of the development community, what’s one pitfall you constantly see developers fall into?

AC: Sometimes developers feel that the more code there is, the better the application they’ve written. You can look around online and see enormous amounts of code to accomplish what could be done with substantially less. We’re extremely focused on keeping code as clean and streamlined as possible; less is more.

NTS: Why do you think that occurs?

AC: Well, there are so many ways to accomplish most every function that I think sometimes developers fall into the habit of pulling snippets of code from 10 different places and just dropping it in, with the idea that it is quicker and more cost effective to use existing code than to rewrite for your particular project.  The end result is an enormous amount of spaghetti code – none of it written to work together. I think that is a mistake that leads to a variety of problems down the line.

NTS: In terms of site development, what are some trends that you’re seeing emerge?

AC: The emergence of software as a service, combined with the very robust social media sites (and blogging platforms) that allow people to create and post online, have changed expectations for web functionality and content management.  I think many users expect desktop application performance in a web-based environment.

NTS: Does CF afford you any advantages in responding to that trend?

AC: Absolutely.  As we build more and more robust sites, CF’s simplicity allows us to accomplish more with less, keeping our code easy to manage. For example, a new client had an existing site that needed some expansion to its functionality. We took one of their pages that had roughly 1800 lines of code and were able to reduce it down to about 70 and then add in what was needed. You don’t have to be a programmer to appreciate working with 70 lines of code instead of 1800.

NTS: In closing, what is your opinion about the current state of the industry?

AC: This is a very exciting time to be in our industry. The technology has evolved – and continues to – at a very fast pace which means that there are always newer and better ways to do our work. I find that exciting and think that offers endless opportunities for our clients, and for us, the developers.

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