Why a quality website is more important than you realise.

For many clients the true value of their website is not realised, often it is just thought of something you should have without any real thought as to why. This article attempts to explain the reasons a website is important and why you should aim to create a fantastic website instead of merely an acceptable one.

Many years ago, the world of business was a simpler place, the telephone and mail shots reigned supreme as the marketing tools of choice. However it was a hard world to succeed in, direct contact has its limitations and mail shots gave very little in the way of feedback.

These days a new king sits on the throne. However, rather than being an intelligent, handsome king looking resplendent in silken robes and glistening jewels, he is often seen in a worn tracksuit, slouching over the side of his throne with a vacant expression on his face.

In the nineties a quiet revolution happened and looking back now I imagine few of you could tell me when the internet started to gain a hold on the world For many the internet didn’t become a place they really considered meaningful to them until they joined Facebook or MySpace.

It is a sad fact that although the internet is used on a daily basis by over 65% of people in the UK at home (these figures don’t even include those who use the internet at work) most businesses do not realise the relevance this number has to their website. This is not to say that most businesses do not have a company website, indeed over 70% of companies in the UK do have an on-line presence of some sort. The problems lie with the website itself.

Let me give you a little scenario, you go to a car showroom to buy yourself a nice new set of wheels. In front of you are two beautiful looking cars, one has a £25000 price tag and the other has a £500 price tag. Would you automatically buy the £500 car no questions asked or would you ask the salesperson why it is so cheap? If you were to ask the salesperson you would almost certainly find that the car only had a few miles left on the clock and it was in actual fact a Fiat Panda with a Porche Boxster body kit slapped over it.

Most people would ask the salesperson as these days it is fairly common knowledge that you will not get an amazing car for a pittance; the exact same analogy applies to web-design. Many companies are still swayed by price when it comes to getting a new website, when in fact this should be the last thing they consider.

A good website does not just look pretty; there are many considerations toward a new website. Firstly your designer should sit down with you and discuss why exactly you need a website, secondly the site should be accessible to everyone regardless of disabilities or technological differences and finally it should display content in a simple to use and intuitive manner.

If you would like to know how to tell if a web designer makes a Porsche or a Fiat in a body kit then it is easier than you think – firstly, don’t go with the lowest quote. The lowest quote is never going to be the best option. Secondly you can check the web-designers portfolio, and as most web designers list links to their previous websites on their portfolio, you can then put these links into the website checkers listed at the bottom of this article. If they pass, then you are in good hands, if they fail, steer clear of them completely.

If money is so much of an issue that you think you can’t afford to be picky, this is not true either, it is entirely possible to pay for a website in instalments or even rent a high-quality website for a fixed monthly fee. Many companies offer this service, provided you bear the above in mind when you choose them you can be sure that they will provide you with a great value website.

Website Checkers:

The following sites are completely free and independent site checking tools and are not affiliated with any web design companies:

http://validator.w3.org / – this one will display one of two pages, if it comes up green then all is well… if comes up red then stay clear of the people who made it as they don’t know what they are doing. Most web designers worth their salt know about these checks and often you will find that the site is valid, however you will be amazed at how many sites will come up red.

http://www.cynthiasays.com – This one is a bit more complex to use. Set the ‘accessibility report mode’ to ‘WCAG – Priority 1′. It will either pass or fail… again if it fails then steer clear of the people who made the site – one other thing to note if the site fails this checker then it is actually illegal and its possible that they could be sued. There are a worryingly large number of web designers who don’t even know that this is law and do not even bother getting their sites up to the first priority (there are three priorities in total but provided you pass the first one your site is legal, unless your company belongs to the public sector in which case you must reach priority two)

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Alex Foxleigh
Freelance UI Developer at
Freelance User Interface Developer, Aspiring novelist and ill-informed political writer from Sevenoaks, UK.

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