Validated by the Validator

W3CI remember when I first started making websites, I lived by the Validator. It was code up a site, check the validator, make adjustments, check the validator; Validate, Validate, Validate! It more or less became this goal to slap a W3C logo on the footer of every site I made.

To my dismay, I learned that just about every client has no idea what W3C validation means, nor do they really care as long as their site looks good in all major browsers. I’ve done a bit of reading on this topic over the last year as well as my fair share of podcasting (listening) and  I’ve sort of come to grips with the fact that the little W3C badge really isn’t as cool as I thought it was.

Truth is, not everything has to validate. Some of the newest/groundbreaking coding methods often don’t. The validator isn’t going to guarantee that a site will look the same on all browsers, it’s just letting you know of any syntax errors that may be present.

Don’t NOT use the Validator

Now, I’m definitely not saying that one should avoid using a site validator.Validation helps with cross-browser/future compatibility, enhances search engine visibility, shows signs of professionalism, as well as a level of web standards that we can all follow. It’s just important to keep things in perspective. I liked what Jeffrey Zeldman stated in an episode of Shop Talk Show:

Site validation shouldn’t be looked at as a badge, but rather as an available tool.

We should use the validator as a tool to help create clean code and troubleshoot issue areas, but don’t live or die by it. If a site is proper, modern code, or  a snippet that acts as a nice workaround but doesn’t validate, so what? As long as the webpage looks great in all major browsers, is clean and doesn’t reflect usability issues, validation shouldn’t been seen as critical.

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Nick Winters

Nick Winters is the Web Marketing & Graphic Designer for Wenatchee Valley College and owner of Pixel to Press, LLC. He enjoys many outdoor activities, such as: Skiing, Snowboarding, Mountain Biking, Wakeboarding, and Wakesurfing. Never not working, never not having fun.

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