There are many different types and styles of websites that feature a currency converter. Some are highly professional, while others go for a more simple style. Others still do the best they can with a very basic style, happy in the knowledge that it is the content of the site which matters the most.
FxTop.com seems to fall into this third category. It can be easy to arrive on the home page and then move straight on to another site before looking round properly, because its design is not its best asset, but if you do that you run the risk of missing out on a great amount of information and knowledge that other more professional looking websites simply do not have access to.
That’s why it’s worth looking into www.fxtop.com in more detail, to highlight the amount of features it hides away in its design.
Starting with the home page
The one thing that hits you when you arrive on the FxTop.com website is the color green. That might seem like a strange thing to say, but against the white background and basic information included on this page there is a green theme which continues throughout the entire website.
There are three green bars running across the screen, although these merely pick out important pointers and information on that page, rather than forming any kind of menu for you to look at. The main menu itself runs down the left hand side of the page, giving you an ‘at a glance’ way to navigate around the website regardless of what page you are on.
The one thing you might notice immediately about www.fxtop.com is that it tends to differ slightly from many of the other websites that exist about subjects like this. It carries a currency converter on the home page – much as a lot of other similar websites do – but the way it is presented is very different from what you would normally expect. We’ll look into this in more detail in the next section.
The one thing that immediately stands out about this site, which you will no doubt notice as soon as you reach the home page, is that it caters for people visiting from many different countries. While many websites tend to cater for English speaking people above all others, this one recognizes that currency based websites in particular will naturally appeal to people all over the world. Even people who are planning to go on vacation need to be able to understand what they are reading, even if they only need to perform a few currency conversions to decide which country will give them the best value for money.
Right at the top of the light green menu column on the left hand side of the page is a list of languages along with the flag of the country which primarily uses that language above all others. All you need to do is click on the language you would like to see and the site will automatically convert into that language for you. The only downside to this is that it will only convert the language on the home page, but since this does include the basic currency converter it is still a highly useful tool that makes the site more attractive to a lot of people.
The currency converter
This is housed on the home page, and looks a lot different from what you might expect to see. In fact you would be forgiven for not realizing at first that it is in fact a converter.
The idea is to enter an amount in one of the boxes provided in order to see what that amount is worth in the other currencies listed. So long as you make sure you enter the correct amount against the right currency it is quite easy to get the hang of, even if it is a bit different from what you would normally expect.
So for example, let’s suppose that you have a thousand Japanese yen and you want to know what that equates to in New Zealand dollars. You would enter the amount written as 1000 in the box next to the Japanese flag (the countries are all named as well, to make it easy) and you then move up to the second green bar from the top of the page and click on the words ‘click here’ to get the conversion.
If you then look in the box which appears next to the New Zealand flag, you will see what the current conversion is. You can also see the conversions for many of the other most popular currencies at the same time. There are also three boxes at the bottom of this converter which will be of interest to you, particularly if the conversion you want is not included in the main converter itself.
The first one gives you a wide selection of other currencies, so if the one you want to convert to is in that list you can select it and see the results accordingly. There are also two other boxes which feature even more currencies, so if the one you want isn’t included in the first box then you will almost certainly find it in one of the second two.
What this means is that you can select the currency you want to convert from one of these boxes if it isn’t included in the basic list above, and then select the destination currency from one of the other ones if it too doesn’t appear anywhere else.
Another useful aspect of this converter is that it is the countries which appear rather than the currencies themselves as they are listed in the converter. The respective currency code pertaining to the currency each one uses is listed alongside it as well. Those countries which have switched over to using the Euro will appear as such in the list; the name of the country appears first, and then an arrow will point to the word Euro to indicate the change.
The owners of the site have obviously realized that this currency converter is a little different from all the others, as they have included a link to a ‘How to use’ section underneath the converter itself. This is enormously helpful as it also includes screen shots of how to use it. In reality the converter is very easy to use, and is actually quicker than a lot of others once you get the hang of it, but to begin with you might find the how to page rather useful.
Other useful tools on this site
There is also an advanced converter to go along with the basic one. This can be found from the main menu and takes you directly into the right page. You will see here that because of the size of this converter the menu shifts to the bottom of the screen.
There is actually very little difference between the two converters, although this one does give you a little more freedom. A number of the currencies which appear in this converter have since been replaced by the Euro, so an update to this page would be very welcome, but as with the first converter there are several boxes at the bottom with which you can select another currency.
You simply enter the amount you want to convert next to the appropriate currency and then hit the calculate button near the top of the screen. As you do this you will notice that one of three symbols will appear next to the currency you have entered. If that currency has since been swallowed by the Euro, you will see a blue square. With all other ones you will get either a red minus sign (if that currency has slipped in value according to the most recent exchange rates) or a green plus sign (if it has increased in value). This is a tiny addition but one that is not present with many other converters on other sites, and it adds a further simple touch of information where it is needed.
You can also look up historical currency exchange rates by clicking on the ‘converter in the past’ link. The currency converter you will see here is much the same as the one on the main page, with the addition of some fields at the top of the page which prompt you to enter the currencies you are interested in, along with the amount and date that are relevant to your query. You then hit the go button to receive your amounts.
You can go right back to 1990 in selecting dates to enter into the converter, and you can check any individual date from now back to that point. Once again if you get stuck there is a link to click on for some help at the bottom of the converter itself.
What other sections are there to explore?
There is also a section of the site which allows you to create graphs showing the relationships between certain currencies. You can do this by selecting dates over a day, month or even a year or more, depending on what kind of data you need.
It can take a moment or two for the graph to appear, but once it does you will notice that it is extremely detailed. The graph actually appears at the bottom of the page you were on after it refreshes to answer your query, which makes it easier to go back up and alter your request if needed. You can search for up to five currency relationships to include on the same graph.
The more data you request the longer it generally takes to receive the result, although even then it is only usually a matter of seconds, and a lot will obviously depend on the speed of your internet connection. Each currency comparison you choose will be depicted on the graph in a different color, making it much easier to pick out the results as you need them. You can select a single currency and compare it to up to five others, or choose five totally different comparisons to show on the same chart.
If you click on ‘about this site’ you will be taken into a page which offers up a lot of useful information to help you. Not only does it give you some background about the origins of the website, it also gives you some useful links to the website to include on your own site if you should need them. The site also offers specialist services, for which you need to get in touch with them to see what they can do. This is more for other webmasters than any individual using the site, but it is certainly handy to know if you run a site that is connected with this one in subject matter in some way.
There is also a page featuring the cross rates between various currencies. Again this is set out in much the same way as the currency converters, so once you have got the hang of those, this page shouldn’t cause you any problems.
One of the most useful pages for those who don’t know all the currency codes off by heart is the page entitled simply ‘countries’. This gives you a complete list of countries, along with the region of the world they are in and the three letter currency code supplied by the International Organization for Standardization. This can be very useful for many reasons and for many users, and you will no doubt benefit from knowing where it is.
User friendly features
One thing that really stands out on this site is the total lack of advertisements. This alone makes it a pleasure to use as you can do what you need to without being distracted by flashing banners or other irritating adverts everywhere you go. If you visit the information page telling you more about the website you will see they say that advertisements are simply not a part of the site that they are interested in.
This points to the fact that they would rather concentrate on serving the people who visit the site every day than they would in trying to attract the attention of anyone who could give them money to help keep the site going. It is true that advertising revenue would no doubt pay for a site overhaul to give a more professional feel, but it may also compromise the nature of the site, and that would certainly be a shame.
The one thing that really stands out with this site is that the people behind it have made every effort to continue developing it and adding new features to further assist their site visitors. They certainly know the meaning of being user friendly because it is something that permeates through each page of the website itself.
Another part of the menu has been included as a useful ‘at a glance’ feature that can be seen on every page. It is a short list of the major foreign exchange rates that are currently in force, and if you click on any one of these you will be taken into the currency converter and given the results for all the other currencies according to a single unit of the currency you clicked on. This is just another useful shortcut to know about.
Some people are no doubt put off by the basic look of the site when they first arrive on it – and perhaps the similarly strange look of the currency converter. Given the fact that some converters on other sites are very small and consist of no more than three tiny boxes to make your selections in, this one is very big in comparison and can mislead people into thinking it is confusing as a result.
But in fact it is so easy to use it really beats its competition in many ways. Not only are you getting the conversion you want from the start, you are also getting instant access to many other exchange rates without having to do endless calculations to get them. One simple entry is all it takes from you – the site does the rest.
Once you start using this site there is every reason that you will want to bookmark it for future use, purely because it has plenty to offer and it clearly has the needs of its users as its first priority.
When all is said and done the most important part of any website is the data it uses and the facilities it offers. The design is merely window dressing, and while www.fxtop.com wouldn’t win any website design awards it is really not necessary for it to even try. The information included and the way it is given to you makes this site a definite favorite for your own favorites. No matter how you intend to use the currency converters or any of the other features, they are certainly indispensable.