please don’t hold up websites that I programmed 5 years ago as examples of work that I do today

Website programming is so different today compared to what it was even five years ago, that it is like comparing houses built of mud to houses built of brick, or a tricycle to a racing bike.

I am not talking about visual differences, though there are some – websites are designed for a higher screen resolution today than they were five years ago, for example. I am talking about the nuts and bolts programming of the site. The code that makes it work.

Today’s programming is designed to load faster, be easier to maintain and to be search engine friendly. Although each of my website projects¬† are programmed to the website standards and SEO standards of the time that they were built, and I take classes every year to stay at the top of the programming curve, I have been programming websites since 1997 and my portfolio contains some sites that are old school programming, because of their age.

I am mentioning this for several reasons, the first is that I had one of my favorite clients come to me, whose site I designed back in 2003 with a custom content management system, and they had hired an SEO consultant to look at it and give them suggestions. When the consultant looked at my code, I was embarrassed, and I felt like saying – wait, don’t judge my present skills on what I was programming seven years ago! It is like comparing the mud pies I was making at 10 to the apple pie that I cooked at 17.

I did agree with my client and the consultant that it was time to gut their site and reprogram it. It looks the same as before, but now it has SEO friendly code and URL’s, and the content management system has more SEO functionality programmed into it. The renovation was quickly done, because I knew the site inside and out and had programmed the custom content management system so was familiar with how to transition it for today’s needs.

This is a somewhat defensive and personal rant. I don’t want to eliminate my older sites from my portfolio, but the second reason I am writing about this topic, is that I’ve had them (my older sites) held up by my competition as examples of how I program today, and that is vastly unfair. I hope that when a potential client looks at examples of a web programmer’s work, they would ask to see the most current work that a programmer is doing. I want to reassure my clients and potential future clients that I do program as search engine friendly as any programmer available for hire.

I have gone back and re-programmed a handful of client sites this year, bringing the code up to date with today’s standards, and hopefully the majority of my clients will revisit my services so that we can renovate their sites as well.

After 5 years, it is really time to look at a site’s code and decide if it needs to be gutted, to look at the design and decide if it needs freshening up. To evaluate what was working and what isn’t working anymore. There is no reason why you can’t work with the original designer and programmer of your site to do this. They can probably do a more efficient renovation for you (translating to less money), because they already are familiar with your site and content management system (if you have one).

By the way, in my website portfolio, my most recent projects are at the top. : )

Are you a website programmer? Do you recommend removing old sites from one’s portfolio? Have you had old work held up by your competition as a reason not to hire you? Please share your experiences by commenting on this post.

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