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Rackspace Managed Hosting has today sent me the formula to create the perfect website, and being a nice chap I felt I had to share it with you, so here goes:

Pwebsite = { ((14.14* EaseNav) + (13.56*Speed) + (13.11*CleanDes) + (10.89*Func) + (10.89*Up)) – ((12.63*Pops) + (10.32*Ads) +(5.21*MultiM)) } / 6.26

There, now you can all go and create the website of your dreams, guaranteed to pull in the punters, monetize your investment and allow you retire a happy bunny sometime next year. Or maybe you require just a little more of an explanation? I did, and here’s what I got.

Apparently the key differentiators within this perfect website formula are ease of navigation, high speed of page downloads, a clean and simple design, functionality and the site always being live with excessive aggressive advertising seen as a detractor.

Rackspace came up with the mathematically unfriendly way to perfection after commissioning research from the Social Issues Research Centre (SIRC) which incorporated a YouGov nationally representative online survey of 2,500 adults, in-depth interviews and in-house qualitative research. Or put another way, 50 participants were sent on a virtual treasure hunt that asked them to seek out specific pieces of information from a variety of websites, all the time SIRC recording their comments and preferences as they tried to navigate the various set sites before them.

What this revealed was that 83% saw ease of navigation as being the most important factor when it comes to the perfect website, 62% going for speed and 49% functionality. Meanwhile, on the design front some 80% wanted a clean and simple layout, only 6% were interested in Flash and other multimedia options (designers take note, please!) When it came to improvements that people would make to an existing site, that was easy: 61% would make it run faster and 52% make it easier to navigate (I’m spotting a theme here, designers take note again.)
Of course, that formula thing is a bit of fun, but not much help to the average designer trying to get a website project out on time and to budget. But Rackspace think they can help there as well, and have developed an online calculator using the SIRC criteria to measure a website’s performance against the perfect website formula. You can try it out for yourself here.

Jacques Greyling, managing director of Rackspace Managed Hosting, told me that “25 percent of the formula highlights that for any business wanting to run a perfect website it must focus on speed and uptime. It will be interesting to re-visit this in twelve months to see how the needs of web users have evolved.”

Interesting indeed, but I’m still having trouble getting my head around that formula, so went back again for a second explanation. Are you ready for this? I hope you are sitting down unless you happen to have a math degree.

  • Pwebsite = the degree of perfection of the website
  • EaseNav = ease of navigation
  • Speed = the speed at which pages load
  • CleanDes = clean and simple design
  • Func = functionality -' does what it says on the tin'
  • Up = the site is always alive
  • Pops = the site tries to give you pop-ups
  • Ads = excessive advertising
  • MultiM = Flash and other multimedia

So, any website scoring 10 out of 10 on the first 5 variables but 0 out of ten on the second 3 variables, would achieve a perfect score of 100. Which is your target here. But for sites where security is an issue, be that transactional or privacy related, an additional variable enters the formula, namely ‘Secure’ with a weight of 9.77 meaning that to maintain the perfect score in our example the total should be divided by 7.24 instead of 6.26

There, that’s much clearer now...

As Editorial Director and Managing Analyst with IT Security Thing I am putting more than two decades of consulting experience into providing opinionated insight regarding the security threat landscape for IT security professionals. As an Editorial Fellow with Dennis Publishing, I bring more than two decades of writing experience across the technology industry into publications such as Alphr, IT Pro and (in good old fashioned print) PC Pro. I also write for SC Magazine UK and Infosecurity, as well as The Times and Sunday Times newspapers. Along the way I have been honoured with a Technology Journalist of the Year award, and three Information Security Journalist of the Year awards. Most humbling, though, was the Enigma Award for 'lifetime contribution to IT security journalism' bestowed on me in 2011.

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