Validate Your Pages for Web Standards
Websites come in all shapes and sizes, and a great website can be designed in many different ways. When web designers come from different backgrounds and experiences, they may not always follow web standards intended to make web design consistent and understandable. Web standards like those of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and European Computer Manufacturers Association (ECMA) are intended to determine the accepted ways to use technologies like HTML and CSS in websites. Validating your web pages to ensure that they conform to the standards can improve web accessibility and stability, making it an essential task to keep your website looking professional.
Many web designers don’t consider web standards important and don’t consult them when designing pages. They may take shortcuts that get the layout and appearance they want without the most consistent markup and code. However, non-standard HTML can cause unexpected issues when accessing the page. For this reason, following the W3C standards is generally the best approach when creating and editing web content.
Accessibility is one of the most important reasons to follow Web standards. Not everyone browses the Web in the same way as the designer, meaning that it won’t appear and perform in the same way for users as it does for them when they test it. People with disabilities use assistive technologies such as screen readers, which draw directly from the HTML document to translate text into speech. Tools like these ignore the appearance of the page in favour of the HTML code.
Anything not structured properly in the HTML won’t translate well. Users could end up reading out of order or unable to navigate directly to sections of the page they need. Emphasizing text using <strong> markup to make it bold will be more robust than writing it in all caps or changing the font size. Making scrolling an intended part of the experience doesn’t work when different interfaces are used.
Different browsers and tools can also lead to different user experiences on the same page if they aren’t using Web standards. To reach the most users with your web pages, it’s best to follow them.
Appeal to Search Engines
Well-structured, standardized pages are better because they are more compatible with the expectations of search engines and other tools meant to browse the Web. Search engines use the structural information contained in HTML documents, so if the structure is standards-compliant, it will be easier for them to index accurately so the page comes up in searches related to the page’s content. This also helps sites with internal search engines, which are a valuable navigational tool that is highly recommended for larger sites.
Improve Stability Over Time
Web browsers change over time, and to remain compatible with a wide range of versions and upgrades, web pages are expected to offer a consistent experience that fits both old and new technologies. Web standards prevent pages from becoming inaccessible to older devices. They also benefit websites that come under the administration of new maintainers over time. Newer web developers will be able to understand the structure used by previous designers without any confusion if they follow standards.
Use a Validation Tool
When running a site audit, it’s recommended that you scan the HTML web pages to ensure that they comply with W3C standards. Elite Site Optimizer can scan every web page on your site and deliver a clear and intuitive report on standards. It will list all issues and errors that are detected in a weekly scan, showing the line number and code snippet of each issue along with the recommended solution that will comply with W3C standards and best practices for page structure. It also provides a link to each standard that is violated so web designers can instantly consult the standards and see how they can correct their mistakes.
Validating web pages according to standards is a basic but integral part of building a site that’s accessible and gets great search engine rankings.