Websites all around the world are written using mark up languages such as HTML (different versions of it); these languages allow the web designer to include any form of text or multimedia features. It also allows the user to specify the style /appearance the resultant website must have. Just as any normal language would have grammar and vocabulary, HTML also has a regular specified set of codes which have to be adhered to as you build the website.
However just as content written in normal languages are not error free all the time, it is also possible that web pages written using different version of HTML also come with errors. Therefore W3 (World Wide Web consortium) came up with a concept called validation. In specific, the Mark up validator checks if the html code written on your web page complies with the standards set by the W3 Consortium and reports discrepancies.
Pros and Cons of HTML Validation-
All browsers are programmed to accept any new website hosted however “grammatically” incorrect they are and tries to make an informed, educated guess on the intent of the website s presence. The problem would be how different browsers perceive the same slip-shod website; in worst case scenario a hopelessly bad code would confuse the browser and probably cause it to crash! Here is why you actually need HTML validation for your web page-
- Cross-browser and Cross-platform compatibility–
It is quite possible that you are able to create a web page for a particular browser which does not throw up errors in the HTML coding done. However this could be due to an existing bug or flaw in the browser. For yet another person who uses another browser to view your website may end up with a faulty webpage. Further it is also possible that the browser you used may come up with future debugged upgraded versions. Now your web page may appear broken while people have moved on to using newer versions as against the existing ones. A Validation exercise will ensure that the web page works effectively and uniformly across all browsers.
- SEO Impact-
A search engine is already entrusted with the task of searching for optimal key words in your website and aiding accordingly during the search process. Typically in the case of errors on the web page, browsers try to compensate it in various ways. Either the broken elements are ignored or assumptions are made upon what the designers intended to achieve. This way there is a good chance on you losing out on indexing of the web page appropriately.
- Your web page is rendered effectively-
Error free HTML codes ensure that the web pages are rendered faster and effectively across all browsers. This comes in handy especially if you have dynamic web pages; where validation helps in monitoring the HTML output of the codes written.
A poorly coded website is a liability to your business and greatly affects your marketability. It merely shows the sloppy work of the web designer or your incapability of having to hire a capable one. Hence testing the website if it works on all browsers and platforms in use, brings about goodwill to the website and your business.
While we have discussed in depth about how validation is necessary for your website, there are a few arguments against validation as well. Read on.
- Time issues-
In a perfect scenario you would want all web pages to load on time without throwing up errors. Considering the mere magnitude of the number of websites hosted, ensuring that each of them validate correctly may seem herculean for web designers.
- Source code is not visible-
Most viewers do not care about how the code is written; it is hidden and certainly is not the subject of the average reader’s curiosity. To him/her all that matters is how the website is rendered on the browser chosen.
- Validation is no guarantee that the page is doing its job-
After validation of code, testing it in various browsers is still required. An error free syntax does not actually warrant the desired output. Hence as discussed above, the leading question is again the viewing ability given by the website on the browser.
Validation of web pages needs to begin as a practice, simply for the advantages it offers. It the best possible professional approach you may want to adopt if in case you are just about hosting a new website. It can be understood that for web designers with an increased number of existing websites may want to indicate somewhere that the stated web pages are yet to be validated. While it may not exactly help your ego, somewhere it eases up your task of having to revamp them at your own pace.