Do your webpages need W3C Validation

One question that seems to arise time and time again from clients is code validation. Most seem to have the understanding that if you have errors on a webpage, the HTML code is bad. Most clients are now very aware of how and what affects their website ranking and users access.

A bit about the W3C – The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is the organisation in charge of setting best practices and standards for coding in HTML.

This subject has been a controversial topic among developers and clients for several years. Most professionals agree that properly validated code will help a website rank higher, prevent problems and issues arising if new technologies are developed. For me and other professional web craftsman this is great news, but what are the real advantages of having valid webpages.

Lets start with some arguments against code validation

  • – extra development time needed which equates to extra cost.
  • – Expertise and good knowledge of HTML needed
  • – Googles own homepage has 69 errors on it – so why bother if they don’t

There is also a video by one of Google’s quality engineers about this subject where he explains that Google does not award a site a higher ranked place because it validates.

Now the arguments for code validation

Validation as a debugging tool

While contemporary Web browsers do an increasingly good job of parsing even the worst HTML “tag soup”, some errors are not always caught gracefully. Very often, different software on different platforms will not handle errors in a similar fashion, making it extremely difficult to apply style or layout consistently.

Validation as a future-proof quality check

Checking that a page “displays fine” in several contemporary browsers may be a reasonable insurance that the page will “work” today, but it does not guarantee that it will work tomorrow.

Validation eases maintenance

It is reasonable to consider that standards such as HTML and CSS are a form of “coding style” which is globally agreed upon. Creating Web pages or applications according to a widely accepted coding style makes them easier to maintain, even if the maintenance and evolution is performed by someone else.

Validation is a sign of professionalism

As of today, there is little or no certification for Web professionals, and only few universities teach Web technologies, leaving most Web-smiths to learn by themselves, with varied success. Seasoned, able professionals will take pride in creating Web content using semantic and well-formed markup, separation of style and content, etc. Validation can then be used as a quick check to determine whether the code is the clean work of a seasoned HTML author, or quickly hacked-together tag soup.

For me it all boils down to this, if you adhere and follow web standards you can always be confident of building rock solid web environments, even if as on this website not all your pages validate. On this site we use meta data for some of our mobile stuff that at the moment will not validate, we show 4 errors all from meta tags not validating, which is a bit of a pain because we like valid web pages, but we are confident enough to know that although we don’t get the green tic our sites, are always coded properly and future-proofed.

This entry was posted on by Stewart and is filed under Coding.