Although design does matter to a certain extent when you are creating a website, there is one thing that matters a whole lot more – and that is content.
That’s certainly something that the owners of www.ratesfx.com have realized, because the site is dedicated to providing a wealth of information in an easy to access way, with design coming a definite second.
That’s not to say the site looks amateurish in any way; it’s simply that it knows what is most important and sets out to provide it as a priority. The efficient and knowledgeable tone starts with the home page and permeates throughout the entire website, giving the whole thing an air of ease that rarely comes with such a comprehensive site. It also makes the whole thing much easier on the eye, even though complex charts form part of the information given.
Starting with the home page
The home page indicates that this is a very comprehensive site, but it keeps things simple on this initial level so as not to bombard you with too much in one hit. The idea is clearly to tell you what is there without revealing any more at this early stage.
There are distinctive light blue bars at the top and bottom of the page, indicating the main areas of the site in the top bar and additional information in the bottom bar, such as the disclaimer and so on.
There are six main sections to the site that are indicated on the home page, and underneath each one the main points of each are listed to give you an idea of what is there. It’s a simple yet effective way to press forward, because there is a lot of information here and if a good site structure was not put into play from the very first page of the site, it would be easy to get lost within the information included.
You can enter each section by clicking on the main link to that page, or if you wish you can click directly on the smaller sub-section that interests you to visit that area directly.
On many websites there is a link to the site map from the home page, but you will not find that on www.ratesfx.com. However with that said it is important to note that you can search the site using the facility provided, which can be found by clicking on the site information tab at the top of the page and looking towards the very bottom of the list which appears on the next page. This allows you to search for keywords that will help to identify the pages or topics you are looking for, to see if they exist on the site. As with all search facilities it can take a short while to work out how to get the best from it.
The currency converter
This can be found directly from the home page by clicking on the currency converter link within the first section – which is titled Exchange Rates.
Most websites which feature a currency converter differ in the way they present the information in some way, and this site is no exception. There is quite a difference in this one though, as the converter tool is very well laid out and very balanced in appearance. It is certainly a very refreshing change from what you usually see.
The first half of the box you will see contains the currency you are converting the amount from. You simply select the appropriate currency from the huge list that is supplied. Underneath that there is a small box for you to type in the amount you wish to convert. As soon as you select your chosen currency from the second box – this will be the currency you want to convert the amount into – you will see the result appear in the box in the bottom right hand corner of the converter.
The exchange rate used to make the calculation will appear in the middle box, in case you should need it for any reason. The great thing about this currency converter is that once you have chosen your base currency and the amount, you can then click from one destination currency to another and the results will change instantly without you having to do anything else. This makes it by far the fastest converter you will come across, since you don’t have to wait for the page to even refresh. You can reset the whole thing if you want to though, which is just another sign that the website’s owners have included even the smallest touches to make the site appeal to as many people as possible.
If you click the ‘chart’ button function in the middle of the currency converter you will be treated to a graph depicting the way the two currencies you have chosen performed against each other in the past few months. The default graph is set to a year, but you can also see more graphs for three and six month periods. You can also invert the chart to see it from the other point of view by simply clicking a button, as well as downloading the whole thing into a spreadsheet if you need to.
There is also a currency converter bookmarklet available to make life easier for you when you are browsing other websites, or you need information and you don’t want to go to the www.ratesfx.com website first.
Other useful tools on this site
There is a small but nonetheless very useful section revealing the meanings behind certain terms that are used on the website. These will be of more interest to those who delve into the foreign exchange markets and are fairly new to it, but they will be of use to other people as well.
The resources section offers links to many other services and websites which will be of use to you; for example the exchange rate section lists all the currencies from A to Z and gives links for each one to one or more sites that give current exchange rates on them. These may be government sites or any number of other resources, but it’s an invaluable guide as no matter what country you are in or what currency you need information on, you will find the links you need here.
There is also a huge section which reveals the currency codes and symbols for each one. If you need to know this kind of information for reports, spreadsheets or your foreign exchange markets then it is well worth bookmarking this particular page as it will prove invaluable to you.
One particular tool which we have yet to discover on any other site is the exchange rate alarm. There are numerous reasons why you would find this to be useful, but it is certainly a simple yet highly effective tool.
The idea is that you might want to know when the exchange rate between two specified currencies hits a certain point. Let’s suppose for example that you are involved in the Forex markets and you want to sell a particular currency when it reaches a certain level against another one. What you would do is indicate the exchange rate you want to know about on the page given, and then agree for the site to email you if or when it happens.
In this way the resulting email will alert you to the situation and you can then sell your currency as you intended. This takes away the pain of having to constantly check to see what the markets are doing, as all you would need to do is check your emails to see when the one you are waiting for comes in.
Another useful tool is the daily tables for exchange rates. You simply click on the currency you want to see the tables for and you’ll see a chart on the very next page which will show you how that particular currency has performed against every other currency the site lists. There is also another nice touch added to the bottom of this chart, and that is a short list of links which lead you to other areas of interest with respect to the currency you have chosen.
This is just one indication of how well the site caters to all currencies and all countries. Some sites which have a currency converter on them tend to cater more towards the country their owners are situated in. That’s fair enough to some degree but at the same time the websites which really make a good impression in more ways than one are always the ones that appeal to a universal audience. No matter what country you are in you will find that www.ratesfx.com has a knack for providing you with exactly what you need.
What other sections are there to explore?
The visualizations section is rather interesting because it contains in depth information about many countries, in terms of more than just the currency they happen to use. These are very complex and are designed more for those who already have an in depth knowledge about the currency markets. Thus this more advanced feature is not for those who are going on vacation and simply want some basic information.
The summaries section holds some wide ranging data about all kinds of aspects relating to the currency market; anyone who deals in the foreign exchange markets or is thinking of doing so will find this particularly useful. One good example is the chart which gives you the names of those currencies which have had the biggest changes in value over the past few months. This can help you to identify possible trends or areas worth keeping an eye on for the future. Many people who get involved in the Forex markets start out by trading on paper rather than using actual money, and the information and data contained in these sections of the website are perfect for helping you to further your knowledge of the currency markets, in the hope of making a profit later on.
Another section which would be of use to those interested in the foreign exchange markets is the one called Predictions and Volatility. This aims to predict what the most popular currencies are going to do in the next few months. Complex charts containing plentiful data are included for each currency in the list, so you would need to be a relative expert to know what each one means, but for those already in the know they could provide an inkling of what to expect in the months to come.
Back in the exchange rates section you will also find a link which takes you into the cross rates. This reveals a web page with a chart on it, featuring the top nine currencies and how they are performing against each other. These figures are fairly up to date, perhaps only an hour or so out of date depending on what time you happen to view them. The time of accuracy is included at the top of the chart though.
User friendly features
The simple layout is repeated throughout the site and makes it easy to locate what you need without any problems at all. This is always a good thing with a website which contains so much complex information; if you aren’t careful you can end up getting lost in among the pages.
The site is also very user friendly when it comes to other webmasters. It shows you how to create a link to the currency converter by using the data provided. Customized links are freely available and it’s just another example of how the site tries to appeal to everyone and manages to do so almost perfectly.
There is also minimal waffle on this site. Everything has a practical and straightforward feel to it which really makes you trust the information given. It doesn’t need to bamboozle you with bells and whistles because it supplies you with the facts and nothing more. Some websites have clearly put more work into appealing to the search engines than they have in appealing to the people who really need the site and what it offers, but thankfully this isn’t the case with www.ratesfx.com. The professionalism is there to see on every page.
When it comes to being user friendly, some websites make this happen in certain ways and on certain web pages. With this website it happens everywhere you look. It also gives you the names of the official sites that it takes its data from, so you can follow it back to the source.
The website also provides links to other useful sites which may be of interest to those people visiting primarily to use the currency converter. This site and others like it are often found by people searching for currency converters via the search engines, and it is therefore in the site owner’s interests to keep these people happy by offering them links to other places they may find useful. As such, in the resources section there is a list of money transfer services that may be of help; all that is needed is to click on each one to be taken into that website.
Feedback is also welcomed by the main person behind the site, who is based in Finland. There is a quick and easy to find and fill in feedback form which allows you to share your queries and questions, and one would hope your praise as well, for a website that clearly meets many if not all of its objectives.
In short, no matter what your own personal opinion of the RatesFx.com site is, you have to agree that it does stand out among its fellow competitors. The structure it uses is simple and yet it does the job well, and while it does not have a site map the way in which the site is laid out is almost a site map in itself.
The wealth of information included on this website is quite mind boggling, with a host of tools and charts that mark it out as one for the experts. With that said though, it is clear that the absolute beginners to the world of Forex will also find much here that will help them, without confusing them in the process.
While it could be argued that the site could benefit from a more modern overhaul, it is the information itself that provides the backbone of the site and even a makeover would only be akin to slapping a new coat of paint over what is already there. In any case it has no need to look glossy as it probably benefits more from its basic look.
The ‘about’ section reveals that the site has grown and developed considerably since its inception well over a decade ago, and there is every possibility that it will continue to do so long into the future.