How important is W3C Validation?

There are a lot of web designers who are strict about World Wide Web Consortium validation for their website, but how important are the validations? Do they add any value to your site, and is the time spent validating your site worth it?

W3C validation is a nice thing to have, it makes for sure your site can be used by all the people that visit your site. The validation makes for sure that visitors with handicaps can visit your site, and know where everything is on your site. Other that this, there is little benefit that W3C validation adds to your site.

If your site is W3C validated, it doesn’t increase your sites status via search engines. This is because search engines know that most sites can’t provide features and meet W3C validation. For example, in JavaScript you have to use the ampersand at times. With W3C validation, your site will not be valid. This can cause some issues for you as a designers/programmer. Should you include the feature, which will enhance most of your visitors enjoyment on your site, or do you remove it to meet W3C validation. Most of use would choose the former, because we know that the more people enjoy our site, the more they will visit. In the long run the more visitors we have the more revenue the site can make, which is the goal for most websites.

There are some other issues with W3C validation also. Some sites still use a spacer images in menus. According to W3C validation, this is suppose to have an alt attribute assigned to it and it is not suppose to be empty. The reason for this is so that people who are visually impaired and are using a screen reader can understand what the image is displaying. It will be confusing to have the screen reader say something like home, spacer, contact us, spacer, about us, spacer, partner sites. Most people will set a blank alt attribute to work around this issue, and to pass the validation script. According to the W3C whitepages on the alt attribute, the page isn’t 100% valid, they were just able to pass the validation script.

There are some designers who say that W3C validation shows that the web designer is professional. Well, this actually isn’t the cause. You can take professional websites, like Google’s sites, and run the site through the W3C validation script. Most of the professional sites will not pass validation. This is because professional sites are more focused on usability rather meeting the W3C validation.

Overall the W3C validation isn’t a bad thing, but designers have to choose between being valid and how user friendly their site is. If possible, have a site that is both user friendly and can pass validation is great. But if you have one feature that isn’t passing the W3C validation, don’t loose sleep over it.

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