What is Quality Programming and Why Does it Matter?
You’ll most likely never see the programming that goes into your website, plugin, or probably any other computer program, so it may seem weird when programmers (like us at White Fox Creative) say that we create quality coding. If the design looks the same, does it matter?
Good programming is as vital as good design for your website. It doesn’t just look good to the geeks behind the computer, it makes your website work better, faster, and helps your business move up in Google’s search results.
What is Quality Programming?
Quality programming, sometimes called beautiful coding, focuses on making coding that is organized, reusable, and simple. Sounds easy enough, but when you’re creating code it’s a lot more complicated than you’d expect.
Organized. Coding that is organized will allow the programmer who created it and future programmers to easily edit as needed. This can not only provide you with savings for edits, but disorganized code can even make programmers turn down the project. The level of organization of the coding is highly dependant on knowing what the Project Requirements are before you start.
Reusable. We call this DRY coding: Don’t Repeat Yourself. This is a trap that is very common for beginner programmers to fall into. They create code on one page and then need it on another page so they copy and paste. This makes upkeep extremely difficult and time-consuming.
Simple. Code that is unreasonably complicated makes working on it in the future annoying for everyone involved. Future programmers should be able to find where things were created without spending an inordinate amount of time figuring out the program structure.
In other words, “beautiful code” is not an abstract virtue that exists independent of its programmers’ efforts. Rather, beautiful code is really meant to help the programmer be happy and productive.
Judging the attributes of computer code is not simply a matter of aesthetics. Instead, computer programs are judged according to how well they execute their intended tasks. In other words, “beautiful code” is not an abstract virtue that exists independent of its programmers’ efforts. Rather, beautiful code is really meant to help the programmer be happy and productive. This is the metric I use to evaluate the beauty of a program.
– Yukihiro “Matz” Matsumoto, contributor to Ruby (popular coding language)
Why You Should Care About Beautiful Code
If this all sounds like it’s for the programmers benefit up till now, don’t be fooled. Quality coding is extremely important for you and your company. Beyond making your programmer happy, beautiful coding will bring results that will make you happy as well.
Google Likes It
Poor coding itself won’t scare Google off; it’s actually quite good at understanding pages even with coding errors. However, bad coding can include errors that will effect Google’s ranking of your site including multiple title tags on a page, or not including image’s text explanation (an “alt” tag), or hidden links. So while HTML validation, or checking to see if the HTML is up to coding standards, doesn’t directly effect your site’s search engine ranking (per Matt Cutts in the video below), if it drastically fails, you probably have some other issues that will.
Quicker Website Edits and Additions in the Future
Need to add a feature? Have a great idea that will provide something amazing for your customers? A website that was coded well will be much quicker to update. Just like trying to find something in a messy house, trying to find the piece of coding you need to edit in a website that’s not organized will take your programmer much longer and leave them (and you!) frustrated.
Good programming takes time, but bad programming takes longer.
Not only will it take longer for a programmer to make that change you’re waiting for, you’re also often looking at it costing more since it takes them longer. And you might not even be able to get a new programmer for the site if your current one leaves. Many programmers will insist that bad programming is redone (more money and time!) or will simply not take on the project.
It’s definitely worth it to hire a programmer who will program beautiful code and give them the time needed for the project.
Faster Loading Times
While HTML validation won’t directly effect your site’s rankings, how fast your site loads has far-reaching effects in Google. At first glance, you might think that the time to takes to completely load the site directly effect your rankings mainly because of this blog post Google wrote in 2010. But a study by Moz 3 years later (2013) in collaboration with Matt Cutts* shows that while Google cares about speed, it is mostly focused on TTFB – Time to First Byte. TTFB has more to do with the server itself than your website’s coding.
So why do I say that it matters how your programming effects your total fast your site loads? Because this effects a different Google metric that is highly important for your rankings: bounce rate. A site that takes over 2 seconds to load will lose almost half of your visitors immediately [Smart Insights Article]. Not only that, but a high bounce rate is something that Google doesn’t like.
…if your bounce rate is higher (above 78 percent), then you’re much less likely to show up in those coveted top 4 positions. – MOZ study
Quality programming means your site will load faster, which leads to lower bounce rates and higher dwell rates (how long users stay on your site).
Your Website Will Break Less
The larger your site is, the more prone it is to breaking. While there’s no way to ensure your site will never break, a well-programmed site will make sure that the updates you do in one section don’t break something in another area of the site.
Quality Programming Matters
The quality of the programming being done on your site will directly effect you and your business. From saving you time and money, to helping you get to the top in Google’s search results, to safe-guarding your site against breakage, hiring a programmer who codes beautiful code can be hugely beneficial.
*Why should you care about Matt Cutts? He was head of Google’s webspam team for years. He has just left Google to be the Director of Engineer for the USDS in January of 2017.