Company Web Series #4 – The Way Your Website is Coded Matters

By  //  April 10, 2012

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All Website Coding is not equal

Website CodingOne of the major issues I’ve seen people having with their web development projects is they do not realize that not all coding is equal. The way your website is coded really does matter and so does the platform it is built upon.

Once you have a plan, you have your layout and design… you need to have a professional actually code your website to not only present your design and content to the user, but also in many cases install a content management system or CMS. More about CMS later. In some cases this means coding it from scratch and in other cases it means modifying a template or existing code. This coding typically involves HTML, CSS and Javascript to present the layout and and effects, with PHP, ASP or Coldfusion to manage the dynamic aspects and make calls to your database if you are using a content management system.

What many people do not realize is there is a right way and a wrong way to do this coding. When done properly the site will load faster and display correctly on all major browsers and devices. When coded improperly, some browsers may not be able to read the code and the site will look broken on certain browsers or devices. Even worse as browsers update, the improper code may cease to operate at all causing crashes and improperly formatted pages.

 

The Web Standards

w3c Web StandardsThe World Wide Web Consortium or W3C has created a set of standards that web developers and browser companies can follow. These standards ensure the best browser compatibility and code durability. By durability, I mean the code is harder to “break” accidentally or on purpose by the user or by being displayed on different browsers or devices. When a browser company updates their web browser (Internet Explorer, FireFox, Chrome, etc), they typically adhere to the coding standards which evolve over time. If your website is built to these standards when the update occurs there is a much better chance that none of your website elements will break or display improperly. By coding to web standards, your website will load faster and essentially “live longer”.

The World Wide Web Consortium or W3C has created a set of standards that web developers and browser companies can follow.

Another very very important reason for you to ensure your website is coded to web standards is that if a search engine crawler like Google, Yahoo or Bing comes to your website and there is an error… it will skip that section of code which just might contain important keywords or elements that you want indexed. This can be devastating to your search engine optimization!

How do you ensure your website is up to standards and coded properly?  You can run the W3C validator on each page individually. You can find the validator at the following website:

http://validator.w3.org/

 

Content Management System

Content Management SystemNow that we have discussed the right and wrong ways to code your website, we will discuss what a content management system (CMS) is and why you should ensure your website has one. We all know content is king when it comes to both the search value and the effectiveness of your website and the more content and the more up to date this content is, the better. So it is critical that not only is your content (we will discuss content in a later installment of this series) initially inputted into your website in a professional and easy to read manner, but that it is easy to manage this content. This is where a content management system comes into play.

Static Website vs Dynamic Website.

A static website is a website that is built using only HTML/CSS and possibly Javascript. There is no dynamic aspect or database and all the content is hard-coded into the website. It cannot be changed without HTML knowledge and updating it requires downloading each page that needs to be edited, manually editing it and then re-uploading. This also requires installation of software. Static websites are typically not updated as often and the maintenance costs and time on them is also typically much higher.

The primary reason to have a content management system for your website is for the ease of updating and adding new content.

A dynamic website is one that’s layout is also HTML/CSS and javascript, but is built on a CMS platform with all or most of the content stored in a database and drawn into pages dynamically. These platforms also offer many more options and are much more expandable than static websites. Plugins and modules are added with much less effort. The primary reason to have a content management system for your website is for the ease of updating and adding new content. With a CMS, you, your employees or even your developer can log into the admin panel and quickly edit page content, contact information, add a new page or post a new blog entry quickly and easily through an interface that  works very similar to word processing software.

If you are not getting a CMS with your website package, look elsewhere as this is absolutely critical to the marketing power of your website. Without it, regular website updates and blogging is impossible without high costs and your content will suffer which means your online marketing and your offline marketing that directs visitors to the website will all suffer indirectly.

LogosSome of the popular CMS platforms are WordPress, Joomla and Drupal. I highly recommend WordPress as it is highly supported and has just enough features for the user. It is not bloated, loads quickly and is easily updated or modified. It is very user friendly and easy to pick up and start using Some of the other CMS platforms are very complex and offer too many options that are just not necessary for most typical company websites.

 

Demand Quality

Make sure your website is being coded to W3C standards and built upon a powerful content management system such as WordPress. Both of these are absolutely critical, so discuss them with your web developer or agency and if they are not going to provide you with web standard coding or a proper content management system, move on.

 

The next installment in our company web series:
Website Content and Interactivity: Engage, Educate, Entertain

 


Joshua Adams is JoshWebGuyWritten by Joshua Adams at Rock Paper Simple

Joshua lives and breathes web development and internet marketing and is passionate about not only providing quality service, but also educating fellow business owners about internet marketing and web presence.

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rockpapersimple.com |  joshwebguy.com


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