Review of XHTML/CSS: Service to Turn Designs into Fully Coded Web Pages

The following is a paid review. Please note: my time is being paid for but my opinions are my own.

XHTML/CSS is one of a number of services that will take a design you send them (e.g. as a PSD or PNG) and turn it into a web page coded with valid XHTML and CSS.

They charge $150 for coding a single page, with a turnaround time of 3 days. 2 pages costs $250, so for this price you can basically have your site coded for you — home page plus template for inner pages.

They also turn designs into WordPress templates for $250.

Portfolio Review

The the good thing about a service like this is that it’s easy to judge the quality of their work — just view source on some sites in their portfolio.

I took a look at several and will talk about a couple more specifically for this review.

Overall, I was reasonably impressed with the quality of their work. It’s better than what you’d find on at least 90% of web sites. However, I did have a few quibbles.

The site uses a HTML 4 Strict doctype although it is advertised as being coded in XHTML. Personally, I don’t think this matters. There’s no reason to use an XHTML doctype if it’s not needed.

More importantly, the site uses a table for layout, which is surprising. Taking a look at the CSS I noticed that font sizes were set using pixels, whereas it would be better to use ems or percentages.

The font for the navigation is only set to Tahoma which could be problematic as this font has a lower install base on Macs than certain other fonts.

Another portfolio page, QuickSSLSecurity, provides an example of a more complicated design, which is coded in XHTML strict. Again, the quality of the coding is good, with just a few issues.

It’s good to see a global stylesheet reset being used, although I would include padding as well as margin.

I would recommend including a print stylesheet for this and all the sites XHTML/CSS produces. Not only is this beneficial for the customer, but is a good point of differentiation from other, similar services.

The label tags for the login form are coded incorrectly in this example. They do not use the ‘for’ attribute to associate them with the fields they are next to.

While on the subject of accessibility, it would also be a good idea to include a ‘skip to main content’ link at the top of the page that could be hidden from non-screen reader users.

Parting Thoughts

To conclude, for the price, XHTML/CSS offer a good service. The quality of the code, while not perfect (when is it ever) is high and far better than many expensive design agencies could provide (believe me, I know from painful experience).

Further Reading

Want another opinion? View another (paid) review of XHTML/CSS.
Jonathan Snook also provides a list of HTML/CSS services with some useful feedback in the comments.

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