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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.