What’s Not Hot About The New Marathon Chamber of Commerce Website
On 5 July 2017 the new VisitMarathonTexas.com destination marketing website was unveiled, and with its rollout came several revelations for us – including the fact that the new site is built on the poorly-rated, restrictive cookie-cutter Wix.com platform.
Being a member of the Marathon Chamber of Commerce (MCOC) and having an interest in the project, we decided to raise the hood of VisitMarathonTexas.com and take a closer look at what advantages this proprietary Israeli software might offer over the open-source WordPress solution it steals from. Technologically speaking, we found the short answer to be NONE. These 10 restrictions alone should make the Wix platform a pariah for any business website owner:
- Wix website owner copyright is limited to what you upload.
Which means somebody just paid for a website they do not own.
- Wix can use your content to promote anything they choose.
Which means it might be used to support something you don’t.
- Wix does not allow you to transfer your website or content.
Which means the only way to escape from Wix is to start over.
- Wix does not support content delivery networks like Cloudflare.
Which limits website security options and performance potential.
- Wix does not allow you to remove ‘www’ from your domain name.
Which means you cannot make your domain name more mobile-friendly.
- Wix does not support the use of .htaccess files.
Which means you cannot implement HTTP Strict Transport Security (HSTS).
- Wix does not allow the use of PHP (server-side programming).
Which severely limits website form, functionality and flexibility.
Which also severely limits website form, functionality and flexibility.
- Wix does not allow access to website CSS stylesheets.
Which means many powerful design/animation/interaction capabilities are unavailable.
- Wix does not allow you to integrate or connect to a database.
Which means maintaining profiles/lists/directories would be a nightmare.
If you’re not sure why any of that matters, our long answer follows – including the fact that due to crippling limitations like these, VisitMarathonTexas.com fails many of the 12 tests of speedy secure responsive web design:
01: HTTP/2 PROTOCOL SUPPORT: FAIL
HTTP/2 (RFC 7540) is a major recent revision of the Internet World Wide Web’s HTTP network transport protocol based on the SPDY protocol originally developed by Góógle. HTTP/2 leverages multiplexing, server push, stream priority, header compression and other technological advances to significantly improve page load times and download speeds over encrypted connections. You can test a website for HTTP/2 support here:
02: GTMETRIX PAGE SPEED: MARGINAL
The vast majority of all website traffic is generated from search engine queries. Most of that traffic flows to web pages with high visibility in organic search results – especially Góógle search rankings. Góógle, Bíng and other major search engines gives significant rank preference to web pages with speedy secure responsive web design. You can analyze the page speed optimization applied to this website here:
03: HSTS SECURITY: FAIL
With concerns over Internet privacy at an all-time high, sites that are proactive about security will be the preferred product vendors and service providers. HTTP Strict Transport Security (HSTS) – the most reliable form of SSL/TLS encryption – helps protect website users from malicious hackers, ISP and third-party snooping, and unwarranted government surveillance. Proper HSTS deployment can be validated here:
04: RESPONSIVE DESIGN: PASS
Responsive web design is a web development methodology that allows web pages to be flexibly rendered in response to the screen size of the requesting device (e.g. desktop monitors, notebook PCs, tablet computers or smart phones). Responsive web pages adapt their layout to the viewing environment by using fluid grids, flexible images and CSS3 media queries. You can check website responsiveness here:
05: MALWARE SCAN (INTEGRITY): PASS
Computer viruses, spyware and other malicious software (malware) is sometimes found embedded by hackers in the programs, web pages and downloads of otherwise trustworthy companies. Malware includes Trojan horses that may appear useful or attractive but have hidden functionality such as tracking to gather marketing statistics for spammers. You can verify the integrity of web resources here:
06. SEMANTIC METADATA OPTIMIZATION: FAIL
Metadata is “data about other data”. Examples of metadata include META, Schema.org and other structured data tags embedded in the HTML source of web pages. Proper semantic optimization of web page metadata enables search engines to better understand and index the content of web pages, and consequently such web pages enjoy higher visibility in search results. You can evaluate structured data here:
07. W3C VALIDATION – HTML5: FAIL
The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) was established in 1994 to lead the Web to its full potential by providing the web developer with standards to promote its evolution and assure interoperability. Validating compliance with W3C HTML standards insures that all users (and bots, especially search engine spiders) have reliable access to the content and resources of your site. You can validate HTML markup source here:
08. W3C VALIDATION – CSS3: UNKNOWN
Cascading Style Sheets allow the separation of document content (HTML) from document format (CSS). The CSS language allows you to present the same markup page in different styles for different rendering methods. Validating compliance with W3C CSS standards insures that your content will be presented consistently and as intended across multiple devices and browsers. You can validate CSS3 stylesheet source here:
09. W3C VALIDATION – INTERNATIONALIZATION: FAIL
The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Internationalization (I18n) Checker provides information about the internationalization features of a web page. It also summarizes key information about character encoding, language declarations, class/id names and request headers. Getting internationalization right saves time and trouble if you ever need to use your content in a language-sensitive way. You can access the I18n checker here:
10. W3C VALIDATION – LINKS: FAIL
Broken links present your site visitors, prospects and customers with roadblocks, detours and dead-ends that may cause them to question your competence and credibility. It may not seem like much on the surface, but a broken link can do serious damage to your reputation and your business. A single broken link can impact search rankings and user experience and/or result in lost clients and revenue. The W3C provides a link checker here:
11. W3C VALIDATION – RSS: PASS
RSS (Rich Site Summary; originally RDF Site Summary; often called Really Simple Syndication) uses a family of standard web feed formats to publish frequently updated information: blog entries, news headlines, audio, video. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) RSS validator is an attempt to codify the specification, make it easier to know when you are producing RSS correctly, and to help you fix it if you are not:
12. DOMAIN NAME SERVER (DNS): FAIL
This Pingdom DNS checking tool tests delegation, nameserver, consistency, start of authority (SOA), connectivity and domain name system security extensions (DNSSEC) to verify that the DNS servers and settings for your website are configured properly. This assures that domain names resolve to the right IP address, that web page requests are routed and responded to correctly, and that emails are sent and received as intended:
CONTACT FORM MISSING
The VisitMarathonTexas.com Contact Page has no contact form. Using Wix does limit your choices in online forms design, development and especially validation, but it does not altogether preclude a basic contact form. Although not a requirement for SSRWD, WLWeb.US considers contact forms a must for any serious website – and for a number of reasons. Here are just a few:
- Information sent from a contact form is generally encrypted and more secure than email messages. People may feel better about sending their email, address, full name, or other personal info knowing that it’s not easily accessible to hackers.
- Website visitors enjoy the convenience of contacting you directly from your website. Instead of opening their email client or picking up the phone, they simply enter their information into the form and hit Submit.
- With a contact form there is no chance messages will accidentally be sent to the wrong email address, or that someone else has access to the message.
- With a contact form messages visitors send never get inadvertently lost in Spam or Trash folders, assuring you get every message you were intended to receive.
- With a contact form you can get a clearer sense of what a visitor needs by offering drop down Select menus with a required subject for the request, question, or comment.
- The presence of a contact form suggests a professionally-developed website – its absence suggests otherwise.
We have been referring to the new Marathon Chamber of Commerce website as “VisitMarathonTexas.com”, but that domain name actually redirects to “Www.MarathonTexas.com”. Given its destination marketing focus, “VisitMarathonTexas.com” would be the ideal base name for the site – but Wix does not allow that. Wix would allow “Www.VisitMarathonTexas.com”, but that’s a lot to type into a smartphone. That said, the formless VisitMarathonTexas.com Contact Page provides “VisitMarathonTexas@gmail.com” as the alternative. A more substantial impression could be made by using a branded email address like “Info@VisitMarathonTexas.com” and forwarding it to “VisitMarathonTexas@gmail.com” (or wherever). The use of Wix should not preclude that.
VisitMarathonTexas.com has some visual appeal and aesthetics are important, but imagery is far from the sole criterion for deciding how and where your website will be built – or by whom. With websites as with people, beauty is only skin deep. Like the engine, drivetrain and frame beneath the body of a car, the code that renders what you see on the screen, the environment where it executes and the host where it all resides merit equal consideration. And in choosing who, how and where to build a website, there are many serpents in the garden offering up tasty-looking apples which appear penny-wise but ultimately prove to be pound-foolish.
In our professional opinion, Wix is such an apple, and the decision to use it as the platform for the new Marathon Texas Chamber of Commerce website is regrettable.