Best Practices When Developing Website Functionality
Budgets are tight for small business owners, including Veteran owned businesses. So it is important that whether you are using someone to build your website or you are building your own website, there are some basic tips to maximize website functionality.
The following is a basic developer checklist when building a website. The majority of developers have their own way of building websites (even when using an open-source platform like word press) even though not every developer codes the same way, these are some general items to keep in mind during the website build.
Provided are links to some free tools, but there are several tools that have the same functionality so your developers maybe using other tools that serve the same purpose.
I – Website Speed / Load Times
- Website site speed is a measure of how quickly your pages for a visitor coming to the website. We have all visited websites and have had to wait for the page we want to load, the longer it takes for the page to load the more likely we are to leave the website.
- The more functions you ask the website to preform (play videos, pop ups, multiple images, files, keep navigation open etc.) can affect the speed of the website.
- Google offers a free developer’s tool that scans the website and provides insights for improving speeds for the developers.
Here is a supporting article about site speeds.
II – Website Responsiveness over Multiple Device screen sizes.
Developing a responsive website that works on mobile and smaller screens is pretty much SOP these days, but it is also a good idea for the developers to review the responsiveness on multiple devices and screens.
Here is just one responsiveness testing tool that shows screenshot for various devices.
III – Checking the website functionality on multiple browsers.
- Sometimes the look and functionality of websites is not consistent over various browsers (Chrome, Firefox, Explorer). Sometimes when a browser updates it goes out of sync with certain websites. This rarely happens, but when it does cause a website to break it can be an annoyance so its just good for the developers to keep this in mind.
IV– Be Careful Not to Hack Child Themes
- Child themes are specific areas of the website and developers will often hack into a child theme to add functionality to the website. Example: you want music to play along with the image slider, but this functionality is not built into the theme itself, so the developer must do some custom coding. The problem is that it is not a best practice to hack a theme and when the theme updates from time to time it will break the functionality until that custom code is re-installed. And if the original developer is not around at the time of the update, then a new developer has to scramble to figure out what the custom coding was.
- If any coding is done, the developers should make notes and these notes be accessible for the owners for future reference.
V – ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) / 508 Compliance
- Certain websites are required to conform to ADA standards for individuals with vision issues who use tools like readers to browse the internet.
- It is not only descriptive alt tags and media descriptions, but also the website structure itself. Certain color combinations, Flash features etc. make it difficult for the readers.
- It is better to use best practices while building the website, because there is a cottage industry of litigators that scour the web and will threaten legal action for noncompliance.
- We have talked about using descriptive alt tags and descriptions for video and other media and most WordPress websites take into account ADA compliance, it is simply good that your developers are keeping these items in mind.
IV – Human Check and Limit Personal Contact information
- Make sure the website forms have sometime of “Human Check” to reduce the Spam on the website.
- It is also a good idea to limit personal contact information available on public sections of websites. You don’t want crawlers to get your personal contact information which could lead to large amounts of Spam being sent to your accounts.