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The Role of JavaScript in Modern Web Development

Whether you have worked on hundreds of websites or if you are new to the website development process, you are quickly learning how large a role JavaScript plays in developing a website. While you might have heard of JavaScript before, it might not be obvious what it actually does for your business’s website. So let’s dive deeper into the details of JavaScript and what it does below.

So even though we just mentioned that JavaScript is essential for a website, in fact, that is not actually true. A website can exist without JavaScript, it just wouldn’t be a very engaging or user-friendly website. When developing a website, there are three major elements that are needed” hypertext markup language (HTML), cascading style sheets (CSS) and JavaScript. HTML is the physical content of your website including text, images, buttons and any other parts used to build the skeleton of your website. CSS sets the design rules such as colors and font size. So with just HTML and CSS a website will be both informative and attractive, but it would just be static.

This is where JavaScript comes in. JavaScript is responsible for the interactivity of a website and helps bring HTML and CSS to life. It can make specific blocks of content show or be hidden, among an endless list of possibilities. JavaScript helps define the state of a website. The state of a website refers to how a website appears and what is displayed or not. The concept of state is the most crucial aspect of building a dynamic website.

man using computer

Understanding statefulness

Just like objects, websites can have multiple states. These states help make a website go from static to dynamic which allows users to interact with it. Some common examples of website states include whether a user is logged into a website or not, does the user have layout preferences. These states help determine how the content of a website is displayed. For example, if a user is logged in, they will see their username displayed in the top right corner of their screen. If a user is not logged in or does not have an account, links to log in or sign up will be shown in the top right corner instead. Understanding all the possible states of your business’s website can help you know exactly what your website’s appearance would be in almost any situation.

JavaScript and Managing Website States

So now that we know that a website can have many states, you may be asking yourself what controls when each state is displayed. Enter JavaScript. JavaScript is a program that works behind the scenes to accomplish two goals. The first goal is to keep the user interface in sync with the state.

So what exactly would happen if the UI and the state of a website were to be out of sync? Let’s go over a possible example. A user is logged into your website and sets several preferences on a settings page. At a later date, the same user logs back in and finds that none of the preferences have been saved and the user becomes frustrated. This is a common example of when the UI gets ahead of the website’s state. JavaScript prevents this exact scenario from occurring. Modern websites are expected to respond to all the engagements a user performs on a website and keep the UI in sync. This expectation makes web developers responsible for creating a well made program that can handle all the expectations of a user seamlessly while still keeping the website attractive and fast.

The second goal of JavaScript is to send and receive information from the website’s server. This is all done in the background. When viewing a website in a browser you are actually seeing a document sent to you by the website’s server. Without JavaScript, any of the changes made will only remain on your local document and not be reflected anywhere else. With the help of JavaScript, the changes made to your website can then be communicated back to the website’s server and saved. This ensures that the changes will then be shown to all website visitors. This communication between the server and JavaScript happens in real-time and does not require a full page load every time a change is made.

Conclusion

While this is just a high-level explanation of JavaScript and the role it plays in modern websites, it’s clear that without it, your business’s website would not function the same as other websites or how users have come to expect it to. When it comes to implementing JavaScript into your business’s website, it is probably best to collaborate with an experienced team of web developers. TechArk Solutions, in Hampton Roads Va, is a web design and development agency that has helped hundreds of businesses with their website development services and expertise. Contact TechArk today if your business is looking for help with JavaScript or reimagining your online presence.

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