- Feb 21, 2019
- by Alex Ali
We’ve all heard the saying that a good house is only as strong as its foundation, and the same applies to your website. Most sites are built almost entirely through HTML code, and failing to make that code clear can have a number of negative repercussions.
Clean HTML code forms the very core of a successful and highly-functional website. In fact, it’s essential – especially when it comes to maintaining web accessibility and making your site friendly to all users. Unclear code can result in a site that’s difficult to read and/or navigate, which could lead to a loss of traffic.
In this post, we’ll discuss why creating clean code is important for web developers (and everyone else). Then, we’ll highlight some tips and tricks to help you get started. Let’s get to it!
Why Clean Code Plays a Vital Role on Your Website
Web developers often assume that they spend most of their time writing code. However, you’ll actually spend a lot more time reading code when working on development-related tasks. This process can be particularly time-consuming if the existing code is ‘unclean’.
In this context, unclean refers to HTML code that is messy or unclear. In contrast, clean code is produced by a reader-focused style of development, and results in software that’s easier to maintain. Clean code is usually characterized by the fact it’s simple to read.
In other words, writing this kind of code is about recognizing that your audience isn’t just a computer. Writing poorly-organized code might be faster, but can result in extra work over the long term. Imagine returning to fix or build upon code you wrote that uses inconsistent naming conventions or lacks structure – it would be a nightmare.
This is especially true when you’re producing code that other people will be working on. It’s vital they be able to read it too, or important projects could be delayed. No matter how it will be used, it’s important to always write code in a way that’s easy to understand. This is very likely to boost your productivity – saving time and even money in the process.
Cleaner code will also make your site more accessible to those who have certain types of disabilities. These users may rely on the use of screen readers to consume content online, and cluttered code can make it difficult for those tools to understand your site. Therefore, clean code is important both for making the web a more user-friendly place, and for maximizing your site’s potential traffic.
3 Tips for Producing Cleaner Code on Your Website
As we’ve hopefully made clear, writing cleaner code is essential to the ongoing success of any website. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to ensure that you, and your team if relevant, always produce it. This holds true whether you’re a full-time developer, or you simply dabble in making customizations to your own site.
1. Keep It Simple
When writing code, many developers are prone to over-optimizing their content. While you may have the technical know-how to produce complex code, it’s important to bear the needs of others in mind as well.
Perhaps the most basic yet vital tip we can offer is to keep your code as simple as possible. By avoiding unneeded complexity, you can produce high-quality code, collaborate easily, boost accessibility, and even solve problems more efficiently. You’ll also have a more flexible code base to work with.
In short, don’t get fancy if you don’t actually need to. It’s easy to get carried away with new technologies, languages, and frameworks. However, don’t forget that not everyone has the same skill set – nor do they require it. Code should do only what it needs to, without unnecessary elements.
2. Make It Consistent
When coding your site, you’ll have a number of aspects to consider, such as indentation and naming. It doesn’t matter if you prefer camelCaseNaming or underscore_naming of variables and functions, or if you opt for tab indentation over spaces. What’s important is to keep your chosen conventions consistent throughout your code.
When it comes to indentation, for example, mixing tabs and spaces can lead to code that is nearly impossible to follow. Fortunately, this problem is easy enough to avoid – just pick a preferred method and stick with it. A good way to do this is by setting standards at the beginning of each project. When making a choice during development, refer to those standards and refine them as needed.
You’ll also need to make these standards clear with your team, if relevant, so that everyone is on the same page. A more standardized approach also makes working on your code easier for people who may end up adapting or expanding it in the future.
3. Don’t Repeat Yourself
Don’t Repeat Yourself (DRY) is a core programming principle. Its goal is to reduce repetition of all kinds of information, but it’s especially useful in multi-tier architectures.
If you produce code that performs the same tasks repeatedly, any modification of a single task will mean that the same change has to be made to every other instance. This process can take a lot of time and resources. To keep that from happening, you’ll instead want to turn your attention towards the use of functions, classes, and instances.
This fundamental principle enables developers to avoid duplication, and to produce much cleaner code when compared to a programmer who uses unnecessary repetition. Optimizing code this way is what often separates a great developer from an average one.
Code makes up the core of any site – yet many web developers rush the process of creating it. Producing ‘messy’ code can lead to numerous issues, so it’s important to ensure that yours is clean and understandable. This not only improves your site’s accessibility, but also your ability to work with other developers.
In this post, we’ve discussed some of the ways you can produce cleaner code on your site:
- Make sure the code you produce is simple and easy to follow.
- Keep your coding standards consistent throughout each project.
- Avoid repeating yourself through the use of functions, classes, and instances.
Image credit: Pixabay.