Why the Development of Your Website Matters

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Whenever consumers decide to purchase something new, quality is usually a concern. The expression "they don't make them like they used to" has never been more true when you look around at many items these days that are mass produced or, due to rigorous production timelines, simply aren’t rewarded the amount of attention they deserve.

With CMS (content management system) frameworks popping up everywhere and blog platforms making it as easy as 1,2,3 for practically anybody to have an online presence, consumers need to be aware that not all website development is the same.

The accessibility of your website and the semantics of the (HTML/XHTML) markup can make or break your search engine exposure.

What is an accessible website?

The accessibility of your website has to do with the way it appears to both the search engines and your users. If you are using older technologies like frames for your website development, then bots or search engine crawlers are not able to index your content at all because they can’t see what's inside a frame.

Frames aren’t really used too much these days, but their slightly newer counterpart tables are still very rampant on the internet. Tables can be ok, but depending on how complicated your layout becomes, bots can have problems indexing multiple nested tables.

There are a whole assortment of technologies and methods that can inhibit your site’s exposure and it's important to get involved with a website development firm that knows their way around accessibility.

Accessibility Scenarios

Example 1

Let's say your company relies on local search engine traffic and you offer coupons online for more incentive. If your address and pertinent company info happens to be in a deeply nested table then that info is going to have a hard time getting indexed.

If I need your services, but have no idea your company exists, then searching for you online becomes incredibly hard because of this outdated development method.

Example 2

Let's say you just had a brand new site developed with all the latest cutting edge features, super-smooth accordions that gracefully open and close, creating eye candy up the wazoo with AJAX-y goodness.

But, bots and crawlers don't have javascript enabled so it’s impossible for them to index your content. Your brand new site is now inaccessible.

Example 3

The document outline is a quick indicator of the content structure of your web page. You can find the document outline of any web page with the help of the web developer toolbar for Firefox.

Ideally your document outline should represent a well thought-out outline. The document outline is derived from the markup and structure you use for your website.

Bad HTML markup = bad document outline

Image of site that looks fine to a user

bad document outline

The image above shows both the way the site looks to users as well as the document outline used by the search engines. As you can see to a regular user, everything looks fine, but the information given to search engines in the document outline has no value at all.

Good HTML markup = good document outline

good doucment layout

good document outline

This image represents a good outline to both users and search engines. The development of this site is the best that it can be. While the actual content on the page may need updated over time, the structure and code are set for years.

If your document outline is out of whack; or worse, non-existent, then your site is going to have trouble getting good rankings.

Accessible websites that are built with web standards are few and far between these days. More developers are becoming aware of these techniques but it’s the consumers who need to be knowledgeable.

No matter what you pay for your website, wouldn’t you like people to find it on the search engines?

Have you run into other situations where your site has had trouble getting indexed and crawled? Let me know in the comments below.

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