Using standardised building blocks to create something that’s more than the sum of its parts is common in the arts (a painting is clearly more than paint and canvas) and is also taking over the world of computing. Today, more and more websites are build in a modular style, saving the owners money and time, as well as improving the range and flexibility of the site.
What is Modular Web Development?
As in other fields, a software module is a unit that works alone, but can be customised and connected to other units to create a unique whole. Perhaps the most dramatic example of modular construction is the International Space Station. Each room is designed and built as a complete unit. This means that while a lab unit, for example, may interact with and even depend on a sleeping unit or power generation unit, those others can be upgraded, removed or changed without compromising the integrity of the lab unit itself.
In programming terms, modules go by many names including ‘web apps’, ‘plug-ins’ and ‘themes’. Modular programming is much more flexible than a purely bespoke system. Unlike building a house, where you can’t rework the foundations once you’ve put up the walls or change the walls once you’ve put in windows, modular programs are like the ISS, where anything can be changed, improved, updated or moved.
Advantages of Modular Programming
Reinventing the wheel is expensive, time consuming and the end product often has a few corners that still need rubbing smooth. If you compare building a website to building a car, no matter how unusual the vehicle, you’ll still wind up using some standard parts (screws, wiring…) and a lot of the customisations will be hidden under the hood. Using pre-existing modules for the car engine will save a lot of time and money without altering performance.
As an example, e-commerce sites have similar underlying functionality. Their ‘engine’ is made up of inventory management software, a display, a basket, a payment process and other standard items. As a result, two web stores could have a very different look and sell entirely different products to different markets, and still be using the same modules behind the scenes.
Big Brands Backing your Site
At boxChilli, we build some of the modules we use in house, and others we buy in. This lets us provide our customers with an astonishing level of power and security. As an example, PayPal, who are the world’s leaders in secure online sales and money transfer, doing billions of dollars of business, offer a module that allows small, independent businesses to use their service as a payment portal. Customers can check out securely, using a brand they already trust, and credit card and fraud liability issues are taken care of.
Companies like PayPal specialise in developing and improving their modules, and offer an enormous number of options and customisations. As an independent web development firm, we pull the best modules together and create the site you need.