Archive: September 2nd, 2003

Missing Skillswap

I’ve been struck low by a cold, all sniffles and blocked nose. That’s why I wasn’t able to make it to last night’s Skillswap talk by Rosie Freshwater on Search Engine Optimisation.

Fortunately for me, Andy blogged the whole thing.

Rosie mentions my design for the website of G2Blue, the company where she works. Rosie had just started over at G2Blue when I was called in to redesign their site.

There was a great crossover in our objectives: I wanted to make well-structured, semantically accurate documents free of code-bloat and she wanted to have well-written search-engine friendly pages. A combination of XHTML and CSS served us both well. As an added bonus, the site also fares well in the accessibility stakes.

In fact, this is the tack I take when I’m trying to convince people (clients, fellow developers) that websites should be accessible.

I can talk about partially sighted visitors and screen readers ‘till I’m blue in the face and still make little headway. When I explain that pages need to be accessible by text-only devices with no JavaScript, I run the risk of being scoffed at.

But once I explain that the Googlebot is just such a device, I find that people are suddenly much more interested in this whole accessibility/standards compliance thing.

I’m not the only one using this tactic. Ryan Carver recently put together an excellent site for Lee Jeans using XHTML and CSS. He also explained the hows and whys of the design:

"Although I could list about a thousand reasons that sites should be built with XHTML/CSS, the main motivation, and reason the client would accept a higher browser requirement (5.0 and up) was search engine rankings. I’m no search engine expert myself, but I believe with less source code for spiders to look at, semantic hints such as <h> tags and page content near the top of the file, we should do well."

And how did I find out about Ryan Carver and the Lee Jeans site? Well, that would be Andy and his blog again.

It’s turning out to be a great resource for all things related to design, web standards and accessibility: a resource that I can then plunder for myself.

Fetch me links, Andy! Blog live from Skillswap events, Andy! Find a cure for the common cold, Andy… please!