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Compare Website Software

Compare Website Software

Our criteria
We rate and judge many website applications on this site. There are many pages of reviews and comparisons here, so it therefore makes sense to outline our basic judging standards just the once, in a central place.

We specialise in honest expert-user reviews of dynamic website applications, and have no commercial tie-ups or affiliations in this area. We no longer use a feature matrix as that  proved to be an inefficient way to review website software - it can't tell you what is good or bad.

Our webapp judging focus

We focus on SEO and usability issues, because these are by far the most important factors for site owners. Your website needs to have an admin backend that is easy to use, and your site needs to be busy. In order to be popular the site must succeed in search, or you will have to pay out every month to get traffic through advertising. Adverts produce extra traffic, not fundamental traffic - the visits you should naturally get as long as your site appeals to the search engines.

These are also the two areas most likely to be ignored by less skilled developers. Yes - an application must do its job well and produce web pages that look good, and of course we  examine this aspect; but popularity and/or potential website earnings and ease of use have to be the core factors.

This means that if an application makes little concession to the fact that search success is the prime requirement for most websites now, and is difficult to use, we cannot recommend it - however good it might be in other areas.

As far as we are concerned, developers are wasting their time if they cannot provide:

1. A minimum standard of search engine compliance, even if this is via plugins. Ideally, full SEF URLs and per-page unique metadata are needed, though some movement toward this may be acceptable.

2. A reasonable usability level FOR THE APPLICATION OWNER. Note that web application usability and website usability ARE TWO DIFFERENT THINGS.  
3. A website accessibility rating of single-A as a minimum, for the resulting generated pages.

4. Web pages that validate for code with the W3C. We would accept up to 5 errors as a practical figure, on a site with a new template, some new modules, and new content, and with no developer input. These errors should be fixable. From 5 to 25 errors is poor-quality code; 25 - 50 errors is very poor quality code; over 50 errors is trash and does not qualify as HTML or xHTML.

Sites with over 50 errors on a page are strong evidence of incompetence in the software authors and/or the implementers. Such sites are unlikely to be legally compliant and  are likely to have many other types of error. No one would actually pay for a site like this as it would be grounds for immediate legal redress.

The web application end-user

The end-user of a web application is the owner and user of the application. You should note that there is a mistaken belief among some developers that the site visitor is the 'end-user'. This is completely false. The best parallel here is to compare the webapp to a printing press: the end-user of a press is the publisher, who purchased it and works with it all day; not the newspaper reader. The reader is the publisher's customer, not the customer of the people who build the printing presses. In the same way, the end-user of a web application (which, like a printing press, is a piece of machinery for publishing) is the person who works with it, not the peruser of work published with it.

In some cases, muddle-headedness like this can obscure the fact that an application needs to be easy to use, and do what the user needs - and the user is the owner who works with it every day. Not someone who might read the newspaper once and then dispose of it, or only see the website for eight seconds once in their life.

Website application developers are different from website developers. The former are in a B2B business where the user is not the final customer; the latter are in a B2C business where the user is the final customer.

Certainly, the website resulting from a web application needs to do its job well - but if the search engines hate it and the owner has ulcers from using it, a website will probably not be much use to a prospective site visitor - especially since they won't be able to find it in the first place.

Website applications need to be easy to use for the owner, and generate sites that succeed in search. If they can't do that, they are a waste of time.


Web Business Managers