Five reasons to have your website well coded

Five reasons to have your website well coded

February 24, 2010 by Zoe Brown

Unfortunately the web design world is not regulated in any way. Awards can be won for design but the technical code that drives the website is often given little importance. When commissioning a website it’s so easy to get swept away with fantastic design or worse still to to opt for a low budget/DIY option. Either way, many business owners judge a website only based upon how it looks. They often completely overlook the code *under the hood*.

Skimp on the code and your website will cost you more in the long run. Here's five reasons why.

  1. Google. Ensuring that your website is well coded will make Google and the other search engines very happy. In return your website will feature in more search results and benefit from more visitors. Your website does not have to include search engine optimisation (SEO) at the time of purchase to be search engine friendly. If you later decide to hire an SEO expert they will much prefer having some nice code to work with.
  2. Accessible. A well coded website will be accessible to visitors with different sized monitors, different software, different hardware and to people of all abilities. Not only is there a legal and moral obligation to ensure that the website can be viewed, it will also increase your customer base.
  3. Cross browser compatible. OK so you only use one computer and one browser to surf the internet but your visitors combined will have a wide array of different applications. Some are using browsers that are 10 years old and others are bang up to date. Your website should downgrade gracefully, meaning that it could take advantage of new features but still display nicely without them on the older browsers.
  4. Fast loading times. How annoying is it when you have to wait for a web page to load? Perhaps there is a big spinning image on the screen to remind you to wait? Your customers won't want to wait. When coded in the right way, your website pages should be light and fast to download.
  5. Most important - easy to update. Did you know that if your website is coded correctly you should be able to do simple things like changing the banner on every page with just one line of code? This is because well coded websites use different files, one file for the content (HTML) and another for the design (CSS). If your website is not well coded you could end up paying for a lot of development time should you want to have it redesigned in the future.

Ensuring that the website is all neat and tidy backend shouldn't cost much more initially but it is guaranteed to last longer and give you better results. Even if you out-grow the design the code behind can be built upon like building bricks.

If you are buying a website then please do ask your website designer/developer how it will be coded. Ideally you are looking for a website written in XHMTL/CSS and one that is absolutely not table driven. Beware of purchasing sites with content management systems (CMS) that do not generate very good code. If in doubt - get a second opinion.

Zoe Brown, B Websites Ltd

A version of this post originally appeared on the B Websites blog.


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Charla Weatherley's picture

Well said, just what I was looking for.

I have also run across another site that may be of interest:

Thanks again.

Gareth Thompson's picture

Same to you!

zoebrown's picture

Gareth - nice to "meet" you - and thanks so much for your nice comments!

Gareth Thompson's picture

Actually, this article is bang-on.

This isn't just about expense, this is about quality. I deal day in day out with companies that have poor websites, that's why i help them.

Unfortunately, if your website is buggy, or poorly coded you will find it difficult to get into Google or other search engines compared to a standard's compliant website. A well coded website means that Google can navigate the site easier, and google rewards you by ranking higher (in most cases).

DDA is a big thing, but massively over-looked. Would you have an entrance to your shop 5 foot up a wall, so only tall people could come in? No? Then why would you have a website that a large percentage of visitors can't access? It's breaking the law, not just being "a quick job".

I will happily talk to anyone that has questions on this. Just give me a call on 07952 535568 or email [email protected] and i'm very happy to discuss.

zoebrown's picture

Hi Caelen

Getting a website up and running quickly and having it well coded are not mutually exclusive, lots of developers and website agencies will always generate quality code even for a small low budget 5 page website. In order to test the market effectively it is important that the website does perform, ignore Google, accessibility and usability and the results will be skewed in a less positive light. My advice would be to start small with a 5 page website which is well coded and simple design (content is king!) and then add more pages, more bells and whistles and review the design to grow with the start up business.

There are many benefits of valid XHTML but actually I didn't mention valid XHTML specifically in my post. I was talking about well coded websites - which does not have to be valid. I have seen plenty of sites that fail to validate but the issues were so minor that I doubt they'd have much impact.

Check out the law on the DDA (disability discrimination act) here there are loads of other references on the web too - but this is a good starting point!


Caelen's picture

This doesn't tally with my personal experience. From a start-ups perspective I would normally advise that you get your website up and out as quickly as possible in order to test if your basic business model works.

Secondly I am pretty certain Google doesn't care if your site is valid xHTML, as long as Google can read it you're fine.

Thirdly I am unaware of any legal obligations that there are about accessibility (although I could be wrong).

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