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Website Code Reviews Reveal Hidden Problems

Stored in Website Development and tagged ,
Code

A periodic website code review is a healthy step toward maintaining quality control over the product.

Websites are far more complicated these days than they were 10 or 15 years ago. For sites that display advertising, the code is much more sophisticated because advertisers want to target their ads and track their results.

Content management systems and ecommerce applications require more security and simply do more than ever before. Publishers want more plugins or custom coding to fulfill special needs. New toys tempt publishers to integrate them into their sites that already have plenty of toys to entice and keep visitors.

Putting all of these advances together means the code that displays website pages has become complex and sophisticated. But all of that code may not all be necessary.

Benefits of a Code Audit

A code audit once a year or even every six months may reveal javascripts or other coding that simply isn’t useful anymore.

The scripts may have gone onto pages for the sake of an initiative that didn’t work well. The HTML or other coding that displayed the service may have been removed from the page. But that doesn’t mean the publisher or staff reviewed the code for the entire page. Some applications require multiple scripts that may not appear in the same location.

The entire code behind some public content pages is often literally dozens of pages long because of the amount of words, HTML and scripts that display it. Scripts can appear in multiple locations ranging from the top to the bottom of the page. Code editors simply might overlook them when they are removing something else.

Sometimes a new service stays on the page even though it doesn’t perform well. Site managers forget about it because they have moved on to other initiatives and priorities.

So a code review also is a performance review. A page performance product from GTmetrix or Pingdom among others will reveal how quickly a page loads. They also can pinpoint bottlenecks in performance.

Ultimately, every piece of code on a page has to live up to a standard. Is that bottleneck really worth it? Does it provide enough benefit to justify its existence? Does it call a large external javascript that drags down page performance but helps the site in other ways? Does it add value in the form of visitor engagement, ecommerce or advertising revenue?

Website code audits need to take place only now and then. But they do need to take place for the benefit of site performance and visitor experience.

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