One of the most difficult aspects of discussing a website, for us, is talking about the “source code” of the pages. The problem is that if you’re not a web designer, you’re probably not even going to know what we’re talking about! You can’t see the source code – where is it? I could tell you that your website’s source code looks terrible, or I could tell you that it’s wonderful and was clearly written lovingly, by hand, and was the work of a consummate professional. But you’re not going to see a difference, and it’s quite possible that a well-written website can cost you more – in the short term.
So if you can’t see any difference, how do you know one is there? How do you, a potential Needmore Designs client and generally savvy individual, tell the difference? Does it even matter?
Last year we bought a new house. We found one we really liked, but you’d have to be a crazy person to just buy it based on what you observe about the house. What you do is get a home inspector to come by and go over the house with a fine-tooth comb. They check your water, your wiring, your roof, the siding of your house, and so on. And as anyone who has bought a home knows, these things can often need repair.
It is much the same with a website. While negligence in this department may not cause a fire, it can have lots of unintended consequences. We sometimes see these when we take over a website project from another designer. The site may have been written long ago, or the designer might have used software such as Dreamweaver or GoLive. Working on a site like this is like looking at wiring on a 100 year old house that has never been upgraded. It’s terrible, it looks dangerous, and unless you’re willing to overhaul the wiring, working on it takes far more effort than it should.
Being conscientious about the code that makes up a website isn’t easy. But it adds a lot of value to your website. It makes updates easier, it makes handing it off to other designers easier, search engines like it better, the pages load faster, folks with disabilities have an easier time using it… the list goes on. We consider it good business sense, plain and simple.
So next time you’re evaluating designers for your website, do take this into account. Even if you don’t hire Needmore Designs, you’ll be making the world a better place if you understand the hidden value of your site’s HTML.