Comments on: If You’re Going To Promote Your W3C Credentials… Search Engine Optimisation Ireland Tue, 31 Mar 2015 10:03:56 +0100 hourly 1 By: Golden Spiders - Are These Really Ireland’s Best Websites? | Search Engine Optimisation Ireland .:. Red Cardinal Fri, 06 Apr 2007 09:49:33 +0000 [...] This analysis was born from the comments left in this thread about W3C standards compliant coding. Bookmark this post: [...]

By: Thaddeus Mon, 27 Nov 2006 13:26:27 +0000 Since the Golden Spiders were out on Friday and there is some PR about right now, I was happy to run across this blog.

Though it’s not strictly relevant in the context of the crappy agency/developers who made the website, maybe you will also find it enlightening that is run by a couple of controversial brothers, infamous for running ‘promotional’ businesses which amounted to little more than sucking the vulnerable and the foolish into squandering money on premium phone line ‘opportunities’.

That they were never caught doing anything ‘illegal’ should not dilute the point that shonky is as shonky does, so it should be no surprise that their web developers would be similarly less concerned with standards in either an ethical or financial context.

The Sunday Business Post and Phoenix magazine have had plenty to say about them. Not least alleging that they have used ‘Not for Rental’ retail copies of DVDs to use as rental copies, or more interestingly, much of the copy from describing movies appears remarkably similar to the copy from similar movie/rental websites elsewhere.

The Golden Spiders are clearly a Public Relations circle jerk. It’s a shame that a company like Eircom would lend it some credibility with a sposnsorship deal (though considering the standard of Eircom’s Broadband service, perhaps the vague whiff of cowboyism makes it the perfect vehicle for their brand?).


By: Richard Hearne Sun, 05 Nov 2006 12:25:34 +0000 Results of analysis of categories 5-8 are now available here.

This includes the Web Design Agency category.

By: Golden Spiders Take #1 | Search Engine Optimisation Ireland .:. Red Cardinal Sun, 05 Nov 2006 11:11:17 +0000 [...] After receiving some feedback on this issue, I thought it might be appropriate to conduct a small study into one particular area of web design that is not alluded to directly, but is extremely important – ACCESSIBILITY. [...]

By: Richard Hearne Sun, 05 Nov 2006 10:43:55 +0000 Just a heads-up to all interested parties:

I have completed quite an in-depth study of the accessibility and coding standards employed on each short-listed site.

The first batch of results is available here.

Opinions and criticism of both methodology and outcomes are welcome.

By: Richardo Sat, 04 Nov 2006 13:25:03 +0000 Fair play.

The louder we shout, the sooner someone will hear us….

By: Mojo Sat, 04 Nov 2006 12:59:00 +0000 I’ve just sent an official complaint to Electric News and The Sunday Business Post. I’m not expecting much from them to be honest as there are a lot of contentious political issues, I’m sure. Worth a try though.

By: Richardo Sat, 04 Nov 2006 12:35:21 +0000 Unfortunately, I can’t see blogging as being the answer. The general public aren’t going to read the blogs and will be totally unaware of their existence. The blogs will just become areas for us to let off steam.

It is the Great Unwashed who need to be educated, not the design houses. The latter are going to keep pushing out the shoddy work, all the time they can make money.

Unless this campaign reaches the print media, businesses are not going to realise that they are being ripped off.

By: Mojo Sat, 04 Nov 2006 12:19:46 +0000 This was attempted before but it caused a lot of bruised egos, general nastiness and mistrust as it was attempted by people from different, small agencies. I don’t think it’s a matter of setting up an official or authoritative body. More a matter of educating clients, blogging, etc. I’ve put my thoughts into writing and plan on carrying the flag on this for years to come. I’m hoping that everyone else will do the same until this bulls**t is stamped out. Get bloggin’ people.

By: Richardo Sat, 04 Nov 2006 12:14:23 +0000 Yesterday, Dave suggested we set up in opposition!

Seriously though – apart from the IIA, is there any sort of association in this country for webmasters / designers / developers? And if not, why not?

The IIA are fine, but essentially anyone can join provided they cough up the fee. That’s not good enough. What we need is an association where there is some form of application filtering. For example, does the applicant have qualifications? How many sites does he/she have? Are they of a high enough standard?
Membership of this association would then guarantee a minimum level of competence. The association could act as a watchdog and keep the cowboys down.

Anyone have any thoughts on this?

By: LT Sat, 04 Nov 2006 11:34:31 +0000 is easily one of the finest pieces of a property website this country has produced in the past 5 years


By: LT Sat, 04 Nov 2006 11:32:34 +0000 is easily one of the finest pieces of a property website this country has produced in the past 5 and it’s actually scandalous that it didn’t get the nod for the shortlist!

the owners of MyHome and Daft have really illustrating how irish commerce is still in the brown envelope days and these awards have no merit

I am frankly embarrassed by the whole thing and the tarnish it leaves and bullshit it brings on the industry……

By: Richard Hearne Fri, 03 Nov 2006 19:57:35 +0000 Mojo

This site would be absolutely nothing unless people commented on it. I feel quite privileged, and I’m not just saying that. Thank you all for taking the time to come over here in the first place!

TBH I owe you a favour for making your comment – I never would have taken the slightest bit of interest in these ‘awards’ and now it is likely that I will become a thorn in their sides (it’s a habit I have when I come across things that are, well, just wrong) :mrgreen:

By: Mojo Fri, 03 Nov 2006 19:34:00 +0000 I’d rather not say who I work for if that’s okay but it’s not a Web agency… anymore. My professional vested interest doesn’t extend past Hunt For Property and I’m not pitching for Web design work these days so I’m about as impartial as can be… but, I think you’ll agree, I have a fairly strong case to argue considering the circumstances.

And I apologise for hijacking the thread too Richard but we’re still kind of inline with the original topic IMO. If not, just say so :)

By: Eoghan McCabe Fri, 03 Nov 2006 19:26:49 +0000 Mojo, who are you or who do you work for?

Richard, sorry for hijacking your blog like this (36 comments from just 7 contributors)!

By: Mojo Fri, 03 Nov 2006 19:18:21 +0000 I think we should just call them the Golden Plummer Awards from now on. Although it would probably be insulting to plumbers.

By: Eoghan McCabe Fri, 03 Nov 2006 18:51:55 +0000 Funny enough, I think an appropriate name for a plumbing award would be a Golden Spanner!

By: Dave Davis Fri, 03 Nov 2006 18:46:28 +0000 :) No, I have no affiliation with Tower. I actually didn’t go through their portfolio. I retract the first part of that statement.

Eoghan, I never thought of it like that. I guess we wouldn’t know EXACTLY what makes a plumber the best.

If the Golden Plumber Awards was run by the same crowd, the awards would go not to the plumbers that did excellent plumbing that abided by law, ethics, and quality guidelines, but to the plumbers who got the biggest clients, did SOME of the worst and shoddy work and who had friends working on the panel of the awards.

(Sorry… you dished it out, I ran with it). :)

By: Mojo Fri, 03 Nov 2006 18:33:49 +0000 “Fair play to but the rest. I’m quite frankly shocked”

I’ve checked my sarcasm monitor and it seems to be working. Sorry if you know someone/work in Tower yourself but their work is rubbish. Some creative potential there… but STANDARDS, STANDARDS, STANDARDS please. It’s nearly 2007.

By: Eoghan McCabe Fri, 03 Nov 2006 18:29:07 +0000 Yeah. You really would feel sick looking through that short-list! Funny thing is, if I won a Golden Spanner award, I can’t guarantee I wouldn’t accept it and put it on my web site. :) The thing must help sell sites, let’s be honest. Clients don’t know better. If I was looking for a plumber and found a guy that won some sort of “Best Plumber in Ireland” award, I’d assume he must be alright!

By: Dave Davis Fri, 03 Nov 2006 18:04:41 +0000 WOW, I just checked out the shortlist now. Fair play to but the rest. I’m quite frankly shocked. And the company referenced in this blog post. Just magic!

It would appear that the criteria is simple. Who can get the highest profile client. NOT what they deliver.

My gears are well and truly ground.

By: Mojo Fri, 03 Nov 2006 17:48:46 +0000 Well either they’re rigged or the judges are simply unqualified to judge… or both. I’ll wager both to be honest.

The fact that Daft have two judges on the panel and myHome have one… and that they’re shortlisted for 2 awards each is a absolutely ridiculous.

I know Eircom like their monopolies but it infuriates me that they’re trying to monopolise our careers and our livelihoods like this by promoting something they know nothing about.

By: LT Fri, 03 Nov 2006 17:39:20 +0000 i’d personally never enter our company to these shambolic awards and have heard from more than one good source that they are rigged – by whom i don’t know

its a night out for clients and maybe a bit of cheap PR so we usually let the owners of new sites know when theyre on but i always remind them of what we think of them too

By: Richardo Fri, 03 Nov 2006 17:16:26 +0000 My theory for what it’s worth -
Presumably most sites are submitted by web design companies, to boost their own egos.
Any design house that has standards, also knows the true value of the GS awards, and therefore won’t submit.

Ergo the GS awards have become a mutual backslapping ground for the bad coders

By: Dave Fri, 03 Nov 2006 17:03:06 +0000 Oh, no, I agree completely on that. Algorithmically there would be no benefit for CORRECT code. I also agree that poor code can hinder SEO efforts. Lets not even begin to think about flash here.

Indirectly though, great design and coding to standards can have an AMAZING effect on your SE placement. I am speaking from first hand experience here. There are literally HUNDREDS of CSS galleries and standards compliance galleries out there. Need I say more? Not to mention the link love you get for an innovative design.

Anyway, getting back on point, there is clearly something not right with/inside the GSA. So what can be done?

By: Richardo Fri, 03 Nov 2006 17:01:46 +0000 If anyone is interested, I’ve also opened up a tread on to get a few more in on this.

BTW, suggestion for the new award – The Golden Eagle Awards
Logo – Golden eagle eating a golden spider

By: Golden Spider Awards? - Irish SEO, Marketing & Webmaster Discussion Fri, 03 Nov 2006 16:57:38 +0000 [...] This topic is really kicking off over at Richards blog: If You’re Going To Promote Your W3C Credentials… | Search Engine Optimisation Ireland .:. Red Cardinal __________________ Web Design Ireland | Search Engine Marketing Ireland [...]

By: Richard Hearne Fri, 03 Nov 2006 16:51:50 +0000 @Eoghan – I am starting to take a look at the other sites nominated for ‘awards’ with a view to posting a detailed piece on this. Priority is to get my ‘Services’ page up :-) but would like to get this analysis done by Sunday.

@Dave – I’m actually for validation from an SEO standpoint. Not because I think it helps with rankings but because I think that if you code to standards you are a lot less likely to run into trouble down the road. Pretty sure that the bots can parse some real drivel. I have come across instances where very poor code has caused grief for bots. I don’t think there is any bonus algorithmically for clean code per-se but I have a feeling that really terrible code might possibly receive some penalty or be flagged for further scrutiny. Just my opinion mind and I have nothing to back up that last point.

By: Mojo Fri, 03 Nov 2006 16:49:55 +0000 Yeah, count me in too. But for the time being, I’m just doing to piss and moan.

By: Dave Fri, 03 Nov 2006 16:48:14 +0000 I would definitely be up for creating something like that. It would be win-win-win.

Win: Standards and Usability will be rightfully promoted and awareness raised.
Win: The bigger guys, in the wrong would take notice and adapt.
Win: We would be promoting the people DESERVING the awards.

By: Richardo Fri, 03 Nov 2006 16:44:37 +0000 “Wouldn’t it be great if the “Little Guys” could start our own national awards and award the REAL winners? ;)” – Dave

Count me in :)

P.S. I meant to say “down” with the Eurovision!

By: Richardo Fri, 03 Nov 2006 16:43:33 +0000 “Wouldn’t it be great if the “Little Guys” could start our own national awards and award the REAL winners? ;)” – Dave

Count me in

By: Dave Fri, 03 Nov 2006 16:38:00 +0000 This is a really interesting discussion. It would appear that anyone who knows anything about the web from a usability standpoint isn’t getting a look in. It makes you question the motives of the awards.

It’s a shame because this is not only promoting undeserving sites and companies, but also holding back public awareness of how important accessibility and standards actually are.

Richard, I don’t know weather or not your point was for or against validation having an effect on SEO (I assume it was against) but just to clear up, it does not. (Not directly anyway). Companies using standards for this reason are not only being misled, but are doing it for the wrong reasons.

Wouldn’t it be great if the “Little Guys” could start our own national awards and award the REAL winners? ;)

By: Eoghan McCabe Fri, 03 Nov 2006 16:31:30 +0000 “So annoyed about the moviestar site that I sent an email off to NCBI asking for their comment on the issue.” – Richard

Good man. That’s one for the blog. Let me know if you’re going to post anything about it. I’d like to go through the site and post about it’s shortcomings on my blog and link to your post about NCBI’s comments (if they do comment).

By: Richard Hearne Fri, 03 Nov 2006 16:24:04 +0000 Just a quick note to anyone active here today: I just did some updates to the site so if anything looks really strange you might need to refresh your cache (CTRL+F5).

So annoyed about the moviestar site that I sent an email off to NCBI asking for their comment on the issue.

Mojo thanks for bringing this up :)

By: Eoghan McCabe Fri, 03 Nov 2006 16:06:07 +0000 “Frankly, in my book the GS awards are up there with the Eurovision Song Contest” – Richardo

You mean “down there”. They’re a load of bo11ocks, if you ask me.

Check out this award winner in a non-IE browser:

(I presume it also breaks in IE7 though.)

By: Richardo Fri, 03 Nov 2006 15:57:01 +0000 “design, innovation, content, navigation, technology, functionality, interactivity and easy of use” WHAT???

None of the above sites stands out under any of those. They are just bog standard sites.

One subsite off the top of my head –
Now there is a site [ignoring the usual 106 warnings] that offers something a bit different. That uses all of the criteria. That is the kind of thing the judges should be looking for.

Frankly, in my book the GS awards are up there with the Eurovision Song Contest

By: Richard Hearne Fri, 03 Nov 2006 15:37:49 +0000 Just took a look at those sites. Now I have my validator on strict UGML mode and it really didn’t like those pages.

They are just hacked together. Check out the upper-case then lower-case element tags on HomeWise and onlinetradesman :(

MovieStar obviously decided that visually impaired people don’t watch movies – not an ALT attribute to be seen.

I wonder what the National Council for the Blind would think of that site? Nominated for an award?

By: Mojo Fri, 03 Nov 2006 15:37:01 +0000 Well the criteria were, and I quote – “design, innovation, content, navigation, technology, functionality, interactivity and easy of use”

So I guess it’s largely subjective. However, I suspect standards and accessibility must come under technology. At the end of the day, I call foul and/or claim the judges utterly incompetent when it comes to judging the best of Irish Web design.

Clients beware!

By: Richardo Fri, 03 Nov 2006 15:19:35 +0000 But what are the criteria by which they judge sites? The only hard and fast standard is the W3C standards. Obviously they [the judges] have never heard of that. So what do they they judge a site on?

Homewise – 1 error 46 warnings – a very ordinary site.
Moviestar – 0 errors 91 warnings – another very ordinary site.
Onlinetradesmen – 2 errors 201 warnings – I would be ashamed if this were one of mine!
Sellityourself – 0 errors 127 warnings – Again a very ordinary [and rather cluttered] design.

I can’t see anything special about any of them? What am I missing?

P.S. Figures above from HTML Validator in Firefox

By: Mojo Fri, 03 Nov 2006 14:27:43 +0000 PS – I have spoken to Golden Spiders. I was given our overall position, 11th supposedly, but I was told that I could not receive scorings. I expressed my confusion over this though as, based on the criteria, some of those that made the shortlist were painfully lacking. At the end of the day, it wasn’t her fault and she couldn’t help me. She seemed like a nice lady and the judges did a good job of hiding behind her. Can’t say I’m too surprised.

By: Mojo Fri, 03 Nov 2006 14:24:56 +0000 Eoghan, I entered for the shortlist because I knew this would happen. If nothing else, the Golden Spanners are predictable and with this years judges/vested interests announced, it was just too easy.

The time to make a few moves isn’t the new year, it’s now as far as I’m concerned.

I’ve called up and asked the Golden Spiders judges for a de-briefing/rationale as to why didn’t make the shorlist based on the criteria they set out – design, innovation, content, navigation, technology, functionality, interactivity and easy of use. I wonder to Web standards and accessibility fall under ‘technology’? If so, falling at the first hurdle should mean not making the shortlist… but at least 4 out of the 8 sites fail miserably.

The web industry in this country is run by suits who take advantage of uneducated clients and literally steal their money. And that has to stop today.

By: Richard Hearne Fri, 03 Nov 2006 14:15:09 +0000 /Richard goes away to rewrite the Services page (which still isn’t live *smiles at Eoghan*) adding in more detail about compliant coding standards./

Seriously though, I imagine that some of the driving force behind this is the realisation of SEO and the *belief* that compliant code helps with SEO.

The heating of the browser wars must also be playing a part. The new iterations are supporting more standards and people are twigging this more and more.

The other reason I can imagine is the move toward mobile platforms and the greater need for compliant xhtml for mobile browsers.

Of course the repercussions of your site breaking must also be in play *glances over at Enterprise Ireland*.

By: Eoghan McCabe Fri, 03 Nov 2006 13:54:28 +0000 Mojo, I feel your pain. It’s all just back-slapping B.S. though. Really boils my blood, but by trying to play their game (entering for the short list, etc.), we’re giving credit to it. Ignore it for now; sanity will prevail, you’ll see. I hope to make a few moves in the new year to call out the jokers and shake up the industry a little.

Interestingly, the big boys of the industry are concerned somewhat about web standards. I’ve been hired by one of the big companies you’ve named above to train their guys to use CSS/XHTML etc. I wonder what the driving force behind this new interest is?

By: Mojo Fri, 03 Nov 2006 13:37:20 +0000 It’s another joke this year by the look of things. Shortlisted for best agency of the year are Clearscape, Continuum, Magico, Strata 3 and Webfactory. A group of companies who don’t seems to have a clue how to design websites responsibly.

I entered a site for my client as best newcomer for 2006 and it hasn’t been shortlisted – Now I’ll be the first to admit that it’s got its shortcomings when it comes to accessibility but we’ve gone some way to ensuring that the markup is somewhat decent and we intend to improve it over the next few months.

However, when you compare it to some of the sites that have been beaten it to the shortlist…
…you can see that the judges clearly don’t have a clue what they’re doing. Then again, Hunt For Property makes a fairly sinister challenge to myHome and Daft so perhaps the judges (The Fallon Brothers and Jim Miley) know EXACTLY what they’re doing ;)

I’m sickened to be honest. And I’ll be getting an explanation as to why the 100 euro entry fee was spent on an incompetent judiciary.

Or is it just sour grapes?

By: Richardo Fri, 03 Nov 2006 01:00:48 +0000 The winners of last years Golden Spiders Best Web Development Agency fails validation with a frightening number of errors including no Doctype! Yes – the winners.

The sites that they have “developed” for their unfortunate clients don’t come out any better.

What does this say, not only for the non-existent standards in so called professional design companies, but for the quality of the Golden Spider Awards?

Unfortunately the public think that the Golden Spiders indicate the Rolls Royces of design companies. They don’t. They are actually rewarding shabby coding and low standards. Something should seriously be done about them.

By: Mojo Thu, 02 Nov 2006 23:06:45 +0000 As Dave said, it comes down to educating clients. There are too many cowboys in this industry who are screwing clients over, undercutting real professionals and making a quick buck by selling irresponsible web design at the long-term expense of their clients.

I’m hoping, beyond hope, that the Golden Spiders this year finally cops itself on and the real talent in the Irish web industry is finally given the accredation that it deserves. But I won’t hold my breath again.

By: Richard Hearne Thu, 02 Nov 2006 20:30:30 +0000 Hi Dave

It’s already written out in my pad. That and a few others that I have been thinking about.

Lots on (thank God :)) but hope to get a fair bit up on the site before Sunday.

Thanks for the comment.

@Ricardo – you might be right ;-)

By: Dave Thu, 02 Nov 2006 18:10:53 +0000 First of all, they left the doctype declaration out. That was LITERALLY the first thing I learned in the web portion of my CS degree. It kind of makes me sad because it’s just another abused element of trust (Placing the buttons/badges on your site) based on the fact that many customers do not understand initially what standards mean. It always comes down to the same thing. Educating clients. This is one of the hardest parts about my job.

You hit the nail on the head there Justin. While SEM and SEO is now personally my main field, our site does not advertise that service (Directly). A design company should be a design company. Not a “Jack of all trades one stop shop”. In the online business world today, SEO and Web Design development are two very different disciplines and should be treated that way.

Richard, your post on the Enterprise Ireland mailing list (Yes, I’m still a lurker!) was spot on. I think you should write a dedicated post on it.

By: Richardo Thu, 02 Nov 2006 17:48:52 +0000 G’wan. Tell us who it is!!!

I’m up against a competitor for a contract at the moment. No names, no pack-drill. The competitor’s site has 118 errors [including no doctype!!], and they are always bragging about how hot they are.