What is W3C Validation?
To understand W3C validation, first you got to understand what W3C is. W3C (short for World Wide Web Consortium) is an international consortium, where a group of experts, the public and it’s staff work together to deliver and maintain standards on the world wide web, called as “Web Standards”. More details on the W3C consortium here.
The W3C was started way back in 1994, by Tim Berners-Lee (founder of the World Wide Web) and a few colleagues who created W3C as an industry consortium dedicated to building consensus around Web technologies.
The consortium has a set of guidelines or technical specifications specified for all languages known to the world wide website deisgn platform. You might be aware of the popular languages like HTML, XHTML, CSS etc. For each of them the W3C have specified their technical guidelines, which more or less are like the official vocabulary for these languages. So anyone who uses these languages on the world wide web are supposed to abide by the specifications and follow the rules of usage.
So W3C validation is actually the process of checking and measuring if one of the specified languages (like HTML, CSS, XHTML) is abiding by the technial guidelines and if yes, by how much.
There are free tools suggested by the W3C to do this, and anyone who wishes to check the validity of any code available on the world wide web can use it.
The tools for checking the W3C validation is available here.
If you are a software development team, you might want to check the specifications W3C suggests for each language. By practice, it is suggested that every coder/programmer abide by the W3C specifications in every language they are using.
Images courtesy – W3C
A. Is your website W3C Validated?
a. What does it mean to have your website W3C Validated?
To have your website validated means to have your website checked for it’s complacency towards the W3C standards. Using the W3C validation tools, you are able to check how valid your codes are, what errors are present and how can you correct them. Once your site is validated completely for no errors, it means that your website will behave the same way or show up the same exact way as it was planned or designed on most of the standard web browsers (like IE, Opera and Mozilla Firefox) available today. There could be rare exceptions on this, but generally it means that your back end code follows the technical specifications suggested by the W3C.
B. Webmasters – Should this be a large concern of you?
a. Do I really need my site W3C Validated?
This is a very often asked question. Many a times, web designers and web masters think that having a beautiful design is enough to make their websites “standard” and “professional”. Unfortunately, the reality is far from it. The reason is that your website is not only what it is seen like on the browser, the code that’s behind it matters equally. The W3C validation checks if the code is in accordance with it’s specifications depending on the language used. And if not, the website would not be considered as “W3C valid” even though it’s a kickass design there.
There’s another whole new perspective to this, when you are into search engine optimization, and want your site to rank high for certain keywords on the search engines like Google, Yahoo and MSN.
Search Engine Spiders checks every website they visit for W3C validation. In fact, if the website is in compliance with the W3C specifications, then it’s easy for the search engines to grab content from the website and accordingly place them in their index. The search engines are built the way W3C specifications are, so they are going to look for those metrics on all the websites, and if they are present on a website, that makes them “preferable” compared to the rest.
So, if you want your website to be indexed well by the search engines, and enjoy the traffic from them, then you better check the W3C compliance of your website and tweak the code so that it validates well with the W3C tools.
b. If I don’t have it W3C validated will it hurt me?…if so how
Now, it’s difficult to make a rock-solid statement on this, but there are points to give us clues on the answer. Ideally, W3C wants all the websites to be technically W3C standards compliant, but that being said, it might not be practically possible. We’ve seen that W3C non- compliant websites are hurt in the sense that they miss out on many opportunities. Like for instance, when Google decides to rank two websites on first and second positions, assuming that every other search engine optimization factor are equal, if one website fails to validate for the W3C guidelines, they then are likely to rank second and not first. We don’t call it “getting hurt” right? It’s simply a matter of utilizing the opportunities we have at hand.
c. WebBizIdeas.com & WholesaleKeychain.com are not W3C validated…how come they still rank well? Would they rank better if they were W3C validated?
This is exactly what I suggested in the earlier paragraph. Websites that are not completely W3C valid my also rank well. This is because being W3C non-valid does not mean that the website is completely wrong. It only means that technically there are errors on the website because they do not follow the W3C guidelines. Aiding to good content and authority, W3C errors are less significant, but a chance given, a W3C compliant website will rank higher than a non-compliant website.
C. How to correctly validate your website with W3C
So, let’s see how you can check if your site is W3C validated or not.
a. Step 1
Go to the MarkUp validator tool here (see screenshot).
There are three options on the Mark Up Validator tool that you can use.
i) Validate by URL – Check validation by giving in the direct URL of your website or webpage
ii) Validate by File Upload – Check validation by directly uploading the file to be validated
iii) Validate by Direct Input – Check validation by copy-pasting the entire code
If you have the webpage to be validated already hosted and live on your website, just opt the first option (default) and provide the URL of the webpage and click “Check”.
You can also add more options by clicking on the “More Options” link, where you can suggest the markup type etc. You can always leave it to default settings, which will automatically detect the setting of the page.
b. Step 2
On clicking “Check”, the validator tool scans the entire code on the file/webpage url/uploaded file for errors. It might take a while but after the check you should (in most of the cases) see a screen similar to the one below.
If you have a fully valid code, a screen similar to the one below will be shown.
c. Step 3
If you have failed validation like in the first picture, if you scroll down, you’ll see all the errors highlighted in red with the code shown clearly, like in the picture below.
If you are a coder, you should be able to find out the error code, as it can’t get simpler than this. Because all the errors will be shown with the line number in place so, it shouldn’t be a problem for you to find it on the code. Now, edit the code and re validate the code by following step a through step c.
We recommend that you re validate the document/code as much as possible until you get a “green signal” from the validator, which means that you are good to go.
Essentially, the W3C standards and the W3C validator are here to help the web developers work in a recognizable, standardized format helping the world wide web to function and perform better as many new platforms and technologies are being used. Although the validator tool helps you with mathematical precision in standardizing your code, there is no thumb rule to it and you can take deviations, provided you know what you are doing. An example to that would be Google.com. If you try to validate Google.com on the W3C validator, you’d see that there are errors in the document, but these are not serious errors but fairly negligible ones.
Our advice to webmasters is to always try and produce W3C compliant, valid code, because we have an option here to check if we are good quality or not. If you are good quality, it shows. And you don’t want to miss out on anything, just being lazy. So, happy validating your code !