"WYSIWYG Versus Coding: HTML With A Purpose"
by Jim D. Ray
After years of working with entrepreneurs who developed their first web site using an image-based editor, the new world of internet marketing has placed a stronger emphasis on web development that conforms to technical concerns such as search engine optimization and multi-browser compatibility.
WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get, pronounced “whizzy wig”) web site editing programs can allow anyone to develop rich, full-feature web sites without a working knowledge of HTML (Hypertext Markup Language). Many of these programs feature a “drag and drop” user interface, accomplishing eye-catching web site development in much the same way one might perform desktop publishing.
However, many, if not most of these programs generate HTML files that oftentimes results in compatibility issues. A few key concerns in developing web sites using WYSIWYG editors include:
* Text content may not be positioned at the top of the HTML file, which search engines like Google use to determine search engine ranking;
* Font sizes may not be fixed, displaying garbled or overlapping text;
* Content placement may not appear uniformly in less popular, yet fully functional browsers;
* Future expandability of your web site may be limited to the program’s design interface.
Although many WYSIWYG programs are capable of developing visually appealing web design, HTML automatically generated by the program for upload to the World Wide Web may limit your web site’s compatibility and expandability in the long term.
Coding by Hand
Coding HTML by hand can be a challenging, yet worthwhile endeavor, as the flexibility of hand-coded HTML measurably outweighs the time required to become familiar with the language.
Although a relatively simple programming language, HTML is a diverse subject with many facets that can be used to create a dynamic, rich web presence. There are a number of on-line tutorials offering basic and advanced HTML guidance, as well as HTML’s secondary offshoot languages, such as DHTML and XML. A search on Google (http://www.google.com) using terms such as “HTML how to” or “HTML tutorial” will produce a myriad of results for new and advanced programmers.
Coding your web site by hand not only allows for broadened aesthetic possibilities, but also provides greater flexibility for ensuring your site is optimized for search engine results and display compatibility.
Additional benefits of hand-coded HTML include:
* Wider range of design options such as of tables and CSS (Cascading Style Sheets)
* Faster page load, by reducing excess code generated by many WYSIWYG editors
* Increased compatibility with future expansion needs of your site, including forms, mini-applications (often referred to as scripts), and e-commerce features
On Second Thought
If the thought of developing your own web site sounds overwhelming, delegating the project to a third-party design firm may be the best choice. It’s okay to stay focused on what makes you money – supplying your products or services – and allow others to compliment your business with their expertise.
There are many local and national design firms that specialize in web design for particular needs, such as small business or organizational web sites. Hiring the right web design firm can bring your business to a whole new level; be sure to perform thorough research, and compare service providers before choosing the right design partner for your business or organization.
About the Author
Jim D. Ray is a seasoned web developer and president of Web Presence, a national web design firm exclusively serving the small business market sector. To learn more, or for a free quote for your own web site, visit the Web Presence web site at http://www.web-presence.net.