Some of the websites that have currency converters on them are rather more basic than others, but that doesn’t mean they are any less useful. X-rates.com has a basic but efficient looking feel to it, but it still manages to make it onto the all important page one of the Google search results when you look up currency converters online.
That’s because it does do the job adequately, and there are also a number of other features to this site that make it extremely useful if you want a basic starter guide to currency and various aspects of it.
There is no doubt that the website aims itself at this section of people, but that is no bad thing since many of the sites online today are too complicated for some people. X-rates.com steps in to make a real difference.
Starting with the home page
Unlike some other similar websites there is no currency converter on the home page. It is very easy to find from here though, being only a single click away. The left hand column features several boxes with links that take you to other areas of the website, and the first box – entitled ‘Menu’ – has a link to the converter right at the top. This takes you directly into the currency calculator itself.
What the home page does is give you information on charts and graphs that may be of interest. There is a simple table featuring five currencies – the United States dollar, the British pound, the Canadian dollar, the Euro and the Australian dollar – which pits each one against the other and gives the current exchange rates applicable to them.
As an ‘at a glance’ tool it can be rather useful although it isn’t as up to the minute as some other graphs and figures given on other websites. The data on exchange rates is updated just once a day, so if you need something that is really up to the minute for the day you are on now, then another site would provide a better service. This one is good for basic amounts and figures for previous days.
You can click on any given figure and be taken directly into the graph depicting the rise and fall of that particular exchange rate over the last few months. This is one good feature of the site – a quick and easy tool which instantly shows you how two particular currencies have squared up against each other in recent times.
One click of a button inverts the graph so the base currency changes and you can also select another base currency using the drop down box provided underneath the graph itself. The target currency can be selected from the list featured on the right of the page. This isn’t as comprehensive as some other websites, but some thirty eight currencies are still listed and all the most popular and frequently searched for ones are there. In this case the list will satisfy the needs of most people; if you wanted to see a graph for a more obscure currency you may need to use another website. You should keep this one bookmarked though because it is one of the quickest and easiest ones to use if the currencies you need are there.
The home page itself is very well laid out and its simplicity does not get in the way of providing the most important services. Nothing is hidden away and you can see nine exchange rates displayed between the most popular currencies instantly, so you can tell how well (or badly) they have performed over the last day. Those which have improved are indicated by a green figure – shown as a percentage – and those that have done badly are indicated by a red figure. It’s quick and easy to see what you want to see.
There is actually very little information or writing to explain the site or what it does on the home page; you rely on the menu boxes and on the data provided in the center of the page. But in reality you don’t really need any more than that to describe what this site is all about. Brevity is one of the most powerful tools here.
The currency converter
This is one click away and the page you are greeted with when you reach it is again very simple. This seems to be a hallmark of this site; some websites dealing in all matters to do with currency are complex and very involved by their very nature, whereas others are much like this one. This alone probably makes www.x-rates.com more appealing to those who simply want a straightforward conversion rather than needing to know a lot of information that they have no real use for.
The usual format is presented for use here; you simply select the currency you wish to convert from the first drop down menu (the same currencies are presented here as we saw in the previous section) and then select the currency you want to convert it into from the second box. You then enter the amount of money you want to convert in the third box provided. If you have used a converter before then this one won’t present any problems. No instructions are needed as the whole thing is straightforward.
One thing that sets this converter apart from many of its similar rivals is the addition of a small box on the right hand side which features six currencies to convert from and a further six to convert to. Some of the most popular ones are included here and you simply click on the flags to change the selections in the currency converter itself, but not all the most popular conversions are represented so it will only be of use on some occasions. It is a nice tool to have though, provided you know your flags. The only improvement would be if the country or currency name appeared when you hovered over each flag. As it is some are instantly recognizable but others are not so obvious.
Once you have the right currency names and the amount entered in the appropriate places it’s a simple matter of hitting the ‘calculate’ button and the conversion will appear for you in the box at the top of the converter.
There are three more links which appear directly beneath this conversion – firstly you can click on a link which will show you the history of these two currencies in a graph (exactly the same as the page we reached from the home page); the second link provides you with a straightforward calculator in a pop up window which could prove useful; and thirdly you can go into another type of currency calculator. This allows you to enter the amount you want to convert, plus the currency that amount is in, and then see a list of what that amount converts into in twenty two other currencies. This could prove useful if you are interested in foreign exchange markets, as you can also click on each conversion figure to see those trend graphs again.
All in all the simplicity of this currency converter does not detract in any way from its overall usefulness and efficiency. It is very user friendly and while not all currencies are included, it is certainly extremely quick and easy to use. It will appeal to people going on vacation who want to know how much their own currency will buy them, and also to others who want basic figures for well known currencies.
Other useful tools on this site
Going back to the home page, you will see a link to another type of currency converter – one that allows you to look up the rates that applied on a specific date in the past.
This goes back to 1990 (which is further back than some other websites have managed) and again X-Rates.com has made it extremely easy to do the conversion. Some websites have lots of complicated rates and tables to choose from, but this site simply gives you the basic information which is ideal for those people who just want to know what the basic exchange rate was between two currencies on a certain date in the past.
The information you will receive in return is very useful, as you will get four or five days worth of data. If the date you selected was a date when the markets were active then that date will be indicated with a green bar. If the markets were not active on the date you chose (for example it could have been a weekend or a holiday) then the dates either side will be returned to you so you can select the most appropriate one for your needs. This gives you an overall picture for no extra work, as well as returning the precise information you sought in the first place.
This gives you the results for a single unit of the chosen currency however; so for example if you choose the conversion from the US dollar to the Japanese yen, you will receive the exchange rate according to one US dollar. You can then use a calculator to work out any specific figures according to the rate you have found. Alternatively you could try another website, but keeping a calculator on your desktop will do the trick.
One click of a button also allows you to flip the rates to find the reverse exchange rate, and you can also see a graph which indicates how the exchange rate you have chosen performed during the whole of that year. This is shown on a month by month basis and the average rates are listed below to give you the overall picture of how things developed over the course of that year. It’s an intriguing and useful tool which could have many uses.
What other sections are there to explore?
There is a rather quirky section on this website that shows you photographs of what some of the world’s most popular currencies actually look like. When you click on a chosen currency you will get to see what each banknote in that currency looks like.
Not all of the world’s most popular currencies are included though – for example at the time of writing the British pound was conspicuous by its absence, while the Portuguese escudo and the French franc were included in the list, neither of which have been legal tender for some years now since being displaced by the Euro.
There is also a large section which you can go to which concentrates on the Forex markets. While the X-rates website itself doesn’t deal in these matters it gives you all the links you need to an external website which can help you with this subject.
Because this particular section comprises a number of pages offsite, there is really little else of interest on www.x-rates.com itself. The basics are all there concerning currency conversion and exchange rates, but it doesn’t pretend to be involved in other related areas. The fact that it does point you in the right direction is immensely useful however.
User friendly features
The whole website is very straightforward and easy to use, and for those who want to get the figures they need without being flummoxed by unnecessary information this site will be the ideal one for them.
The section on the left hand side of the page near the bottom (entitled ‘More links’) is of particular interest since it includes a frequent questions link. This enables you to get answers to the most basic questions you might have about using the site. You can also get in touch with the owner of the website using the feedback form supplied.
There are also links which take you to the FAQ sections concerning advertising on the website and also more technical issues you may encounter. This particular section applies more to those who have their own website, and wish to link to www.x-rates.com in some way. There is a selection of banners and information on how to insert a simple box or graph on your website which allows your own visitors to perform a simple calculation.
There is also a page dedicated to making sure you know how to bookmark the website for future use – which will vary depending on what browser you are using – and also some very basic information about the Euro. This particular page includes the relevant dates that marked the beginning of the Euro, but there is little else of interest on this page.
Perhaps the most user friendly feature of this site is not any particular tool or page, but rather the way that it has been organized and set up. There doesn’t appear to be a site map anywhere but it isn’t really needed since everything is linked to (often from more than one place) and as such it is a delight to use.
The fact that it does rank very highly in Google points to it being a website that a lot of people rely on for providing basic information. Sometimes that is all you need and it is refreshing to see that a website isn’t shying away from its duties in this area. As such www.x-rates.com provides a useful and well constructed counterpoint to some of the other more complex sites around today.
There is no doubt that the X-rates website won’t fit the bill for many people who need more in depth information and a more comprehensive array of tools to use – whether that is for business, pleasure or trading purposes. But with that said the website doesn’t aim itself at that section of society.
It is certainly a good site to bookmark if you want historical exchange rates, as it makes the whole process of finding them quick and easy to understand, but if you need extremely detailed information about currencies (and indeed you need to find the exchange rates for more obscure ones) then you will need to use another website other than this one.
If there is one particular area where this website succeeds above all others it is in the graphs department. Quite often this type of graph is hard to understand or even read on a computer screen, but all the graphs you will see on this website are well constructed and very easy on the eye. The 12 month charts showing how a particular currency has performed against another one are also very easy to read and study, giving you an excellent head start in your research if you need to have access to this kind of thing.
In short, the lesson that this website has to teach us is not to underestimate a basic looking website. It is quite often the tools it provides which are the most important thing, and www.x-rates.com certainly delivers a number of very efficient and well put together tools that will help you when you most need them