Low quality can mean different things to different people. When we talk about low quality websites, we are specifically discussing the areas of back end code and cookie cutter websites. There are of course other areas which can deem a site low quality, but these two areas rank high in terms of effects in search engine results, and more importantly in corporate brand perception.
There are thousands of sites that offer “free templates” or “low cost” templates that many people choose to use on their websites. On the surface, this appears to be an excellent choice from a cost perspective. The problem is these website templates are not unique to one particular company or brand, and over time you run into many sites that look alike. We refer to this as the “cookie cutter” technique. If your site is not distinguishable at first glance, you have lost your opportunity for branding impression.
Many web developers who are starting out, or come from other areas such as a marketing background with little to no technical expertise will advocate the use of these free templates. They will swap out logos with your company brand, and change some header and footer colors, but in the end, the final website still comes across as a cookie cutter website that was based off of a free or low cost template.
A very important, but often over looked issue with free template based websites is low quality code. While the code that drives a website is often the furthest thing from a customers mind, it is actually one of the most important parts of a successful website. You can have the most beautiful website in the world, but if the code used to drive that website is not using the latest standards, chances are you are loosing out on valuable search engine ratings, causing un-pleasant user experiences for certain types of vistors, and in the big picture, you are de-valuing your brand, company, or service.
One of the quickest ways to determine the code quality behind your website is to use the W3C validator. This tool allows you to enter your website address and click the check button, and receive almost instant results of your websites code errors. Keep in mind this tool is only checking the home page of your website. To check the other pages you need to enter each unique page address one at a time.
At the top of the results page you will see something titled DOCTYPE. If the result is anything other then HTML5 then you are loosing out on search engine ratings, and run the risk of having a site that is not accessible to certain visitors. If your website was created within the last 3-4 years then this should not be an issue, this will mostly pertain to older websites.
The next thing to look at is the errors, and chances are you will see errors being reported. Each one of these errors results in missed index opportunities for your website. The more important factor is certain viewers will not be able to view your website as intended depending on the device they are using at the time.
When choosing a web developer for your web project it is important to ask these questions.
This list is just a sampling of a much bigger picture, but is a quick way of weeding out who should not be working on your web project.
Remember when choosing a web development company to work on your project, do your research, and definitely do not go with the lowest price, it will cost you more in the long run.