What Tech Stack is Right For My Product
posted 1 year ago

I recently had a conversation with a new lead who insisted that his new website be created in C++. When a new lead, or a person that I’m having a conversation with about new work starts asking for a specific tech stack, I immediately ask, “Why do you need that technology” and “Are you open to suggestions on other tech stacks?”. The truth of the matter when choosing a tech stack for your startup, product or web application is really about two things in my opinion, search engine friendliness  and overall popularity of a particular language. When you take the top few technology stacks used in web based applications, PHP, Ruby, Node.JS, Python and ASP (or other major windows based languages) and compare their effectiveness in terms of creating a web based software, it pretty much comes down to preference. A good PHP dev can recreate a Ruby or Python web application down to the letter and vice versa. The technology stack doesn’t have a lot to do with the particular language’s capabilities as much as it does preference.

Many years ago when we started 422 Studios, we had to choose a primary tech stack for our company. The tech we chose would be the basis for our client work, our hiring process and our sales process. We chose PHP based on the fact that it was and still remains, the most popular backend coding language. There were more jobs to be had, more talent to be hired and more resources to be consumed if we ran into a problem area or a difficult feature that we needed help building out. With that said, here are the top 3 things that we considered when making our choice, and that can be used to make an educated decision when choosing a tech stack for your next build.

1. Search Engine Friendliness.

If you have any development background at all, you’re screaming, “All of these languages are search engine friendly!” You would be right in the general sense, but the reason that we even ask this question when deciding what tech stack to use, is that single page, javascript based applications are 100% the way to go for your backend software system if search engine friendliness is not a must. In almost 100% of the cases where a client is creating a backend software like a CRM system, an email application, a ticket management software or any other kind of “login hidden” functionality, we opt for a PHP based frontend website with an open source CMS like WordPress, but we create a separate software component based on Vue.JS or React for the “login hidden functionality”. Why do we do this? Because a strong search engine friendly frontend is a must for marketing purposes, but a fully javascript based software is by far the fastest loading system possible and provides for the slickest, coolest user experience because of the capabilities of javascript. So if you’re creating a web based software, then we highly recommend splitting your marketing site and your software system up into two pieces and building your software component with a javascript framework.

2. Language Popularity

This is a big one when choosing a tech stack. Often times a full javascript software component is not possible, because your actual web based software needs to be search engine friendly. In this case, you’re back to choosing a traditional tech stack for your build. A huge factor in choosing a stack is language popularity. If you choose a language like Python that has a small community (relatively speaking), you could run into issues down the line. These issues range from under qualified talent to work on your project in the future, lack of official or community support down the line and even the possibility of complete discontinuation of the language like many Adobe Coldfusion adopters experienced a few years ago. I’m not even going to post a list of the top programming languages because their popularity changes year after year, but our top pick is a javascript / PHP combination where a modern backend framework like Laravel is used to power an api that gets consumed by a PHP / Javascript frontend. This allows you to have maximum effectiveness when it comes to search engine friendliness, while integrating a slick user interface with javascript. Some other great languages to build your product on are Python and Ruby. C based languages remain the most widely used languages in the industry, but for web based software, they are in our opinion, complete overkill and not very user friendly.

These are our two most pressing questions when discussing a tech stack for a new build. Once you have answered both questions and found a competent developer, you should be set to go without worrying too much more about the stack that you chose. As with all web based endeavors the technology that is “the most popular” matters less than creating an amazing user experience with whatever tech stack you have adopted. Choosing a stack based on “what is cool” rather than trying to solve problems for your potential users and create a great experience is always the wrong way to go about it. As always, we hope this quick post helps in your daily grind, until next time, #hustleHard, make it happen, build your freedom every day.

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