These questions are for small-business owners shopping for a designer who will also “build” or “code” their website. Much has changed since I wrote the first version of this article in 2008. WordPress templates now provide small businesses turnkey solutions that often require little, if any, custom coding. World class designers assemble layouts, spacing, and even font choices. Often, a few color tweaks and the insertion of your logo are all you need to launch a professional looking and expertly coded site.
The Feb. 29 update stresses accessibility and code validation, which are still important.
- Will the web programming be hand coded?
This is no longer necessary.
- Will my site be handicap accessible?
Yes. This also benefits visitors with temporary disabilities and those with slow Internet connections who turn off images to reduce page loading time. Why limit website access if you don’t have to?
- If accessible, what guidelines are being targeted?
You may wish to consult with your attorney. Consider a minimum of WCAG Level A. Complying with this level will make your site accessible to disabled visitors. To learn more about web accessibility guidelines, see our web accessibility resources.
- Will visitors be able to re-size the web page text without “breaking” the layout?
This is no longer a concern. Modern browsers handle resizing. Designers don’t have to worry about this anymore.
- Will the layout be CSS or table-based?
The layout should be coded with pure, external CSS. If your site is built on the WordPress platform with a current theme, CSS will be baked in.
- Will it be HTML5?
- Does the developer or code-capable web designer agree to provide error-free programming?
Yes, of course. Why else hire a professional? The concept of error-free web programming is not intended to suggest you should hire someone who never makes a mistake. The idea is to hire someone who agrees to test for and correct mistakes. As a client, you have a right to expect the final product to be error free.
- Will all pages validate?
This question and answer are a continuation of the concept of error-free programming. Whichever document type your designer or developer chooses, it is your right, as client, to demand that each page on your site will validate.
- How will I know if my pages validate?
There is a wonderful free tool, provided by the W3C that is very easy to use. You don’t need any technical programming knowledge or skills. Simply visit The Validator (external link) . Copy and paste, or type, the complete URL of the page you wish to test into the form box and select “submit” to test your page. Note: the URL is the whole address that appears in the address box of your browser. For example, to test this page, you would type:
(It may be easier to copy and paste.) Testing a page takes only a few seconds. If the page passes, the results will congratulate you with a bright green banner. If the page flunks, the errors will be listed, and the flag will be red.
- Why do my pages need to validate?
They don’t. But valid (error-free) web pages yield important benefits. Several search engines seem to favor valid code; so eliminating errors may improve search results. Error-free pages load faster. Pages with valid programming, in compliance with current web standards, are more likely to render correctly on alternative devices or browsers. Valid pages enhance handicap accessibility and thus limit legal liability for accessibility issues.