Clean code means fewer loading errors for your website's visitors and in some cases, better rankings in Google and other search engines. But there's more to it than that. Your code also makes a statement to anyone who might be looking at it.
Let's look at some simple tips for creating beautiful code for your site.
Clean Code Is Poetry
Clean web code is like poetry to someone who understands it. Cluttered code is hard to read, hard to follow, and hard to edit. But your code also speaks for you. If your code is a mess, people will look at it as a reflection on you.
Treat code the way you would any other writing. Rewrite and edit to improve the flow and make the meaning more clear. Don't be afraid to cut anything that's not serving the bigger project.
Clean Up Code Formatting
One of the easiest paths to clean code is proper formatting. Use indentation and line breaks to separate different sections and to break up long expressions, making them more readable. Follow consistent patterns throughout your code and leave plenty of whitespace.
Think of your code as being like a book. Books use chapters, heading, and paragraphs to separate different sections and ideas. Good formatting will do the same for your code.
Practice Good Commenting
Comments are critical in your code. If someone else is working on your code, they'll make it clear what you've done and why. They're not only there for others though - comments will help you remember why you did something when you revisit your code in the future.
It's easy to assume you'll know why you did something but months or years down the road, it's not always as clear as it was when you made those decisions. Spending a few extra minutes writing comments can save you hours down the road.
Don't over-comment your code, however. If the code speaks for itself, detailed comments may not be necessary.
Tools to Help Get Rid of Dirty Markup
There are tools available that can help you clean up your code, for various languages and types of markup:
- HTML code cleaner
- CSS cleaner
- PHP cleaner
- Ruby cleaner
- Python cleaner
Each coding language and markup language has its own conventions. A tool designed to work with HTML will take your "unorganized" code and reformat it into clean HTML code. But it might not be able to deal with PHP or Python code very well.
Some of these tools operate as web apps, such as Dirty Markup, some work as stand-alone apps, such as Decoravit for macOS, and others operate as plugins for your text editor, such as CSS Comb.
Consistency Is Key
Whether you follow commonly-accepted standards or roll your own methods of cleaning up your code, consistency is important. If you change your formatting, your naming conventions, or anything else from one section of code to another, it's going to make it a lot more difficult to work with.
Clean code is one way to improve your website but there are other steps you can take as well. Check out our 8 tips to improve your website to learn other ways to make your site faster, easier to use, and more useful to your visitors.