According to wikipedia : validation is the process of checking if something satisfies a certain criterion; In computer science, data validation is the process of ensuring that a program operates on clean, correct and useful data.
A regular user may not be aware of this but in the world of web design (or the world wide web to be more particular), we too have a way of checking if the data from our web pages are clean, correct and that it satisfies certain criteria – to make a mouthful short, valid. This is a sample link that checks the markup of this website’s validity from the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) – www.w3.org.
Why do I need to validate my website?
A client of mine once told me:
The validator says my site is not valid, but I see it performing well on my browser, why the heck should I even bother about validation when all I care about is that the information I share through the web can be seen by my target users?
To be honest, this is a very good point – if you don’t care about standards at all. Although this is very bad if your web designer or developer don’t care as well.
I used to be a non-believer of standard-compliant websites back in the day, I used to have that very same reasoning when designing websites, and I too, could care less about how my website would look like in browsers that I didn’t want to support. Maybe because I thought it was too hard or too complex to even bother with, maybe I thought I’d just be wasting my time validating when I should focus more on designing.
Thankfully, somewhere along the way I’ve forgotten why I didn’t want to check for validity, probably because I realized that “the web isn’t about me” and that I am not my target audience and I’m not publishing this only for myself; Therefore, my website shouldn’t comply only to my personal standards but to a standard used by the majority, otherwise I should just be writing on a piece of paper and lock it up on some chest never to be seen by anyone and never to be heard from again…
I have a few answers to the question why we need to validate our websites, the first is because
1. The World Wide Web is for everybody
The only problem with the word “everybody” is that it’s far too many. It’s literally impossible to please everyone not to mention the world ( otherwise there wouldn’t be war or arguments and all we’ll see in this planet are pretty little butterflies flying around… ). Different users have different specifications, different machines, different operating systems, different browsers… whew, too many differences, you get the point…
Just how do we make the web accessible to everybody???
Luckily, we can ( well, maybe not exactly for everybody but at least for the vast majority ), by simply following a certain set of standards, and this is where your VALID HTML website comes to play.
2. Never dictate your target users what they should or should not use
As the saying goes: “The customer is always right.” And if you’re a web publisher, your customers are your readers. You don’t tell them that they should only use Internet Explorer 6 to view your website because it won’t work on a different version or browser, because if you do, you’ve already trimmed down your possible readers ( unless that is of course your intention ).
Lastly, and dare I say: Most importantly…
3. Google is god of the World-Wide-Web and Google plays by Standards
“Doesn’t sound like an answer to the question?”
Let me try and expound that statement…
Web crawlers ( like that of Google’s ), unlike people, read your content line by line, code by code, and if you make it hard for crawlers to understand what you’re trying to say, then it just might as well ignore you. Believe me, you wouldn’t want the god of the world-wide-web ignoring your world-wide-website…
So to make a long story short, if you’re a web publisher, it’s always best to just give Google what it wants.
If that isn’t reason enough for you, that’s quite alright, I’m not gonna try and force anyone to abide by the standards anyway ;).