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I saw an advert in a magazine for a company offering “web-doctors” to diagnose bad websites – ironically called sickwebsite.co.uk, which redirects to some firm called byteart. A quick glance at their site shows that they promise a “free review of .. accessibility and legal compliance” as well as “Search engine visibility”. Given that a good Google rank is intimately related to accessibility, I thought I’d check on their accessibility for five minutes.
The form fields have no associated labels, violating priority 2. There is no DOCTYPE, so it cannot validate – another priority 2 error.
Most hemorrhoid-suckingly terrible of all, the page has literally no useful semantic structure. There are no paragraphs (lumps of text are merely separated by “<br><BR>”); the “list of services” isn’t a list; in fact, the only structure is a form and a table that is purely for layout – a layout that would be trivial to duplicate in CSS.
Headings for oblivion
There aren’t even any headings that would help a screenreader user move around the page, and which are also used by search engines to rank content. Sickwebsite claim expertise in Search Engine Optimisation, so I did a search on “free website review” – the phrase that they have most prominently displayed on their page (in a no-alt image).
Google seems not to know they exist.
The reason I pick on sickwebsite.co.uk is not because they are invalid or because they aren’t using the latest bleeding-edge css trickery. We all make validation mistakes, and we can’t all code like Brothercake. We’re all learning, experimenting and refining our techniques – that’s why we’re professionals and not charlatans.
I’m calling them out because they are attempting to sell a service by claiming expertise they don’t have. They claim to be an “experienced team of web-doctors and nurses”, but in these days of new professionalism, we don’t need doctors with leeches, magic spells and textbooks on the four humours. You need web standards.
Sickwebsite: Physician, heal thyself.