Scouting for girls

Chris Booth :: Thursday 10th October 2013 :: Latest Blog Posts

A while ago I stumbled on Nibbler from Silktide.  It is one of those wonderful things that is both completely pointless and also quite helpful; a complete waste of time and far too compelling; wildly inaccurate and yet a good indicator.  It is a total and utter toy that is also both useful and practical.  Allow me to explain...

Nibbler is a website analysing tool.  It runs a wide range of tests on the first five pages it finds on your website.  These tests tend to be a rather eclectic mix.  If you ask me there is a pronounced bias towards social media and HTML5.  The mix of tests has changed several times since I have been using it.  Some of the tests I liked have being dropped in favour of new ones.  For example - Nibbler used tell you how often you published blog posts.

BadgesNibbler then gives each site a score out of 10.  If you prove ownership of a site you can combine your scores to gain points for yourself.  While Nibbler seems far too easy to game I think the end result is a pretty good indicator of the sort of care you are putting into your websites.  The points are gained via badges; there is a badge for making an html compliant site, another for building a site in WordPress, another for using CloudFlare.  All these badges make Nibbler look like a boy-scout's shirt sleeve.  Web developers – we promise to do our best!

It's not all roses and not just because it is so easy to waste time on Nibbler.  From the sort of speed it runs at I think maybe Nibbler is hosted on a Raspberry PI.  Silktide aren't doing this for the good of their health – yes they want you to buy their products.  Oh, some of the other sites on there are well, you know, a bit morally corrupt.  Hmm – it's slow, there are adverts some of it's a bit dodgy – yep, that's the Internet!

Nibbler best UK web designersWhat gets me is this – why aren't there more women developing websites?  I mean look at that motley collection of logos and mug shots on the UK's top developers.  Yours truly is skulking around at position 10 – there we are and there is our logo as rendered in fuzzy-felt.  How many of the other logos were designed by women.  I'd say "none."

I know there are skilled women web developers.  I know there are thousands of women making websites but when I surf I just don't see that many sites that are clearly made by women.  Here at Web Booth Towers we have a little game – visit websites at random, for each site - guess the sex of the web designer, try it.

I spend a lot of time getting my code right and I believe it is important but at the end of the day it is Naomi's designs that sell.  The look and feel of the sites we create is what our customers buy.  Our ability to put our customer's message, their personality, their vision and dedication into living pixels – this is what sells.  Those sites then go on to work their little, digital socks off for our customers – selling to their customers.  It comes down to this: Naomi's designs appeal to all sorts of people but mostly they appeal to other women.

We think we know who our Type "A" customers are.  We think we know what they want.  We certainly know what they don't want because they tell us, over and over again. 

  • Web developers turning up in suits.
  • Web developers not being flexible with appointments.
  • Web developers being bossy and know-it-all.
  • Web developers talking jargon.
  • Web developers failing to listen.
  • Web developers delivering the site they want to make not the site the customer wants.

Boy ScoutsNow it's hard enough making money building websites and it's not like we want any more competition but for goodness sake guys 50% of the world's population is women and it's not like their aren't loads of them running businesses, making decisions and holding budgets.  What the hell are you doing?

Before you send off for a jumbo-size-multi-pack of pink pixels I should like to draw your attention to the background image of this very page.  It is a great background.  We love it. Our customers love it.  In the history of the Internet I doubt any other GIF has ever shifted more websites, ever.  We didn't know it at the time but drawing that background was probably the best business decision we've ever made.

These days they let girls join boy-scouts, you know that, right?