What are the W3C Validation Standards?

If you want to discover what the W3C Validation standards are and how you can benefit from them, you came to the right place! Every day, web developers work on creating better and better websites, trying to give us the qualitative experience we expect.

Still, errors are inevitable. And today we’re going to discuss how those errors can be spotted and fixed, why it is a good idea to check and correct them according to W3C validation standards, and most importantly what even is the W3C validator. 

What is a W3C validator?

World Wide Web Consortium or W3C for short is a free service that checks the validity of Web documents. So, it basically checks the code of a website against W3C’s protocols, guidelines, and standard formats. By validating pages of a website you are ensuring the technical quality as well as preventing errors. 

Despite that, validation is not a full quality check nor an equivalent to checking for conformance to the specification. In other words, it doesn’t mean that the web page that passes validation is necessarily a good web page. It just means the web page meets W3C validation standards and rules.

There are more quality criteria to that than just validity. On the other hand, an invalid web page has a bit of a chance of being a good web page though. W3C as a service is an international community of full-time staff, member organizations, and the public.

All of them work together on developing W3C validation standards for markup languages, such as HTML, XHTML, and CSS.

How to validate a website with W3C?

When it comes to validating your code to W3C standards, you can choose from two tools – W3C HTML validator or W3C CSS validator.

For HTML markup you’ll use ‘Markup Validation Service’. This validator can be used in three different ways – to validate by URI, File Upload, or Direct Input. The simplest way to test the code of a Web page is to paste its address into the text area right on the validator’s home page.

Markup Validation Service for W3C Validity Standards
Source: w3.org


After pressing the ‘Check’ button, you will find out if the Web page validates to W3C standards. It will show you Notes and Potential Issues in your markup as well as Validation Output, which gives a more accurate idea where inside the code you might have errors.

Markup Validation Service for W3C Validation Standards
Source: w3.org

Now for CSS markup, you need to use a different validator, the CSS Validation Service. It’s very similar to the W3C HTML validator and works in the same way. 

CSS Validation Service for W3C Validation Standards
Source: w3.org


So why should you follow the W3C Validation standards? 

Validation for Future-Proof Quality Check

Apart from the fact that validation is a sign of professionalism, it’s an easy way to check whether a Web page is built in accordance with Web standards. You can rely on its guarantee that the Web page will work as designed also in the future.

Validation as a Debugging Tool

Validation is great for debugging too. Different software on different platforms often won’t handle errors in a code in the same way, which makes it harder to apply layout or style consistently. It ensures that the markup is validated before creating an interactive layer.

Many Web professionals agree that when they run into a Web styling or scripting bug, the first thing they’ll check is validation errors. 

Validation for Maintenance

Another advantage of validation is that standards like HTML and CSS are markups globally agreed on. For all that it makes Web pages easier to maintain even if it’s performed by someone else.

Validation to Improve Search Engine Rankings

Overall, a validated Web page without errors helps to get better rankings in search engines. Because code errors may affect a site’s performance, it has an impact on the site’s SEO as well. To explain, search engines check for the website’s code and if they find the code invalid (it is not following official standards and rules) it might be removed from their index.

Validation for Better User Experience

Websites are accessed by people from modern browsers and validation helps with functionality and user experience, because it eliminates any possible errors the user is likely to run into.

Validation for Browser Friendly Website

And lastly, the main reason W3C validation standards were introduced in the first place, was to make website browsers friendly. Non validated Web pages might be displayed correctly in one browser but not so much in another. W3C validated websites are displayed without errors across browsers that are used by millions of users.

Summing Up

Even though validation is not mandatory, it is useful for improving the quality of Web pages. Especially for smaller websites, validation may be slightly more important, mainly in the development process. A website that’s validated will be shown properly on different browsers for cross-browser compatibility.

On the other hand, many of the well-known websites that we use daily don’t meet W3c validation standards. They have many errors but are still working well. And that brings a big question to the table.

Does it actually matter? Well, there are both answers to it depending on who you ask. Although it should matter, it doesn’t really seem to. But that is the discussion for another time.

Posted by Editor