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Website Validation

Web Design

You may have heard about it already, and if you’ve been perusing through my blog posts you’ve heard it from me, but you may not know what website validation is. It might sound like a techie term that’s beyond either your expertise or interest, but it’s actually both pretty simple and pretty important. Let’s take a look at what valid code is and why it should matter to you.

Valid code is good code

Websites are made up of code. HTML, xhtml, CSS, what have you. The code tells the web browser how to display everything from text to images to layouts on the screen. For example, if you want your web browser to display an image, you’d write a line of code that looks like this:

<a href="http://www.zacharycoyne.com/image.jpg" alt="image description" />

Websites have thousands of lines of code, and for each code tag, there’s a correct way to write it. Boring, I know, but stay with me here! A valid web page is a page that is built according to the standard set of rules. In other words, the developer took the time to write the code correctly and make sure it’s free of errors.

Web browsers try to ignore errors

Web browsers (Internet Explorer, Firefox) do their absolute best to display websites, no matter how atrocious the code is. Why? Because that’s their job — display the website for the end user.  If browsers only showed websites that didn’t have errors, most websites would simply show up as an error message.  This would make browsing the web pretty boring.  Now, this is a good thing in the sense that an error here or there won’t necessarily ruin a site, but it can be a really bad thing if your website is error-laden.

Don’t believe me that most websites have bad code? Plug in almost any website address and check it with this website code validation tool.

Why validation matters

If a website has errors, your main concerns are browser compatibility and search engine optimization. If you hire a newbie (or lazy) web developer, he’ll probably be checking how the website looks in one web browser as he’s building it. If something doesn’t look right, he’ll mess around with the code until it “looks okay.”

The problem is, if the code has errors (which it likely will), it’s displaying the way it is because the browser is “guessing” at what the code was supposed to be saying (remember, its job is to try everything it can to show the site). If he’s checking your site in Internet Explorer, it might look completely broken in Firefox, with the header image half-way off the screen and your menu all jumbled up, because Firefox is interpreting the broken code differently. When the code is clean and valid, all of the web browsers display it the same.

Furthermore, even if the web browsers manage to show the website well enough, when the search engines come through and interpret your website, there’s a greater likelihood they won’t be able to make sense of the mess. Your website content will not be crawled correctly and won’t make it into the indexes like it would if it were well-organized without broken or missing tags.

It also matters with regard to professionalism. If your website is a reflection of your company, you want your website to display properly and be well-coded. Just like when you send an e-mail or make a flyer you pay attention to grammar and semantics, you should do the same with your website. And if you’re paying a designer to create your site, you should expect nothing less.

Check your website

Curious if your existing website (or this one) validates? Check it using the web’s most trusted validation checker. Interested in having your website code cleaned up and optimized so that it not only validates but looks better and generates more business? Contact a local Tucson web designer.

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1 Comment to "Website Validation"

  1. […] good, clean code that validates is important for the consistent display of your website across different web browsers, and will […]

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