October 14, 2010

Web Design Issues - Is Your Code / Programming Healthy?

web coding, web programming
The quality of a website is not measured solely by its beauty, but also by its code, performance and effectiveness.

When you make decisions about technology investments, the trading volume figures are a key information that allows us to more easily choose the best solution among the various options the market offers. It's not the same, for example, selecting a payroll system for 100 workers or for 5000 employees. The complexity and requirements between a stage and other are very different, so we must choose the solution that best meets our requirements and help us to meet our business objectives.

In Internet marketing projects we often face a situation of this kind. The degree of complexity of an integrated website, say, 20 pages, is much lower than a site that will publish a catalog of 1000 products. In the first case, if we make a mistake in the design of the site will be relatively easy to straighten the road, most likely we can easily invest in the development of a second site. Not so when it is a high volume website, since in that case it will not be as easy to proceed with the disposal of the website or to justify a second investment in the redesign.

It is therefore very important that you as a leader responsible for the design of your website, know from the beginning how to identify the key concepts for the success of the project, identify potential areas of risk and what tools (programming languages, platforms, development standards, etc..) will be using for web site development.

Effects of poor programming

The problems that we face every day when surfing the Internet, such as slow loading of pages, animations we cannot see, content out of position, text font sizes too small or extremely large, not having control over text size, strange behavior when using different browsers (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Mozilla, Netscape, Opera, Safari), difficulty navigating the site, among others, all these are issues directly related to programming and design standards.

We have as an example the extreme case of a website to promote industrial equipment and tools, designed in flash format (!), with great content (600 products), but with great difficulties in navigation caused by the extensive loading time and dynamic menus, which because of their flash design they end up leaving you wit only 20% of the capacity of the screen to display the product of interest.

Various programming scripts

A bitter reality is that most people do not know if their site is programmed in HTML, PHP, ASP, ASP.NET, JAVA, Javascript, Perl or another programming language (script), if a content manager (CMS) was employed and what specific product, if the management software is proprietary or widely used commercial software, if your site is not really integrated into web pages but rather it has a flash format, if CSS has been used as a mechanism to manage the design style of the pages and if programming standards are aligned with best practices recommended by the W3C.

Most of the time clients put all their attention on the visual appearance of the site, in how attractive and pleasant pages are when accessing the website, completely ignoring what programming standards have been applied in the development of the website, what tools were used, if the texts are actually images (which have an adverse impact in terms of performance and effectiveness of the site) and, more importantly, whether there is quality programming.

Benefits of efficient code

Web pages are computer programs, applications whose specific function is to display text and images in an attractive and highly legible way. A safe code, clean and efficient, not only allows us to sleep peacefully at night, but also provides the following benefits:

• Visitors will have a much more enjoyable experience.
• Pages will automatically adapt to different types of customers.
• Your company will have a quality website.
• Pages will have a high performance.
• Improves efficiency of site.
• The work of maintaining the site is easier.
• It boosts search engine rankings.
• Compatibility with different browsers.
• Site's portability.
• Easy adaptation to new technologies.

Proper programming of web pages allows your company to have an effective website, fast loading of the pages, ease in maintaining the site, a better search engine positioning and above all, most importantly, more satisfied visitors for ease of navigation and server response times. Definitely is not the same if the customer has to wait several seconds before a flash animation is loaded or if the display of the information is virtually instantaneous.

Unfortunately, companies discover the poor quality of code only when problems arise. At that time they find out it will be difficult to change providers, either because the site administration software is proprietary (designed by the agency), there's no backup of the database, the site is actually a flash animation, obsolete designing techniques have been used or simply the code is of such poor quality that it is not worth trying to recover.

Platform and development standards

In web design it is important what you see, but is even more important what you do not see. In general, people tend to rate a site for its design, rather than its content, effectiveness and quality of programming. However, after everything is said and done during the development project, is the source code the one who will be speaking for the website. Therefore, I suggest paying more attention to the following aspects which should be given a high priority along with the aesthetics of the site:

• Design standards (CSS, W3C, etc.).
• Programming language (HTML, PHP, ASP, JAVA, PERL, etc.).
• Programming Techniques
• Ability of Promotion (SEO)
• Ability to generate Traffic (world ranking)

If you are in charge of your company's website and you're currently evaluating agencies and web design proposals, you should inquire a little more about the tools, platforms and techniques that each of these agencies will use to develop the website. Not only that, but you should also find out why that platform is specifically being proposed to develop your company website.

It is important that you know that every need has a solution. What works for a company, not necessarily works for your company. There are web design agencies who offer a unique solution, the same tool for all cases, regardless of whether the client is a consortium or an SME, if they sell industrial products or consulting services, if they require only promotion or even online selling. Ensure that the development platform is specifically chosen based on present and future requirements of your online business.

A couple of right questions made to the web design agency at the beginning can be enough to avoid future problems with the performance of your website and thus it'll achieve the objectives originally proposed for it.

About the Blog Author: Timpa has the mission of providing all entrepreneurs, whether experiencied or not in online business strategies, with the right information to help them manage their businesses online in the best, most time-effective and cost-effective, smarter way.