Most often we hear the term W3C and if a website is W3C validated. In order to understand the purpose and importance of W3C validation and how it affects your website performance and ranking in search engines, one needs to understand the basics of it and what W3C implies.
W3C stands for World Wide Web Consortium which is an international consortium comprising of a group of experts, public and its staff who work towards delivering and maintaining World Wide Web standards also known as “Web Standards.”
To understand this concept more simply, it means inspecting and measuring if any one of the programming languages like HTML, CSS or XHTML abides by the Web standards, and if so, then by how much do they comply.
You can check your website compliance by using free tools available on the Internet. If your website shows “validates”, then it means that your website is in compliance to the W3C guidelines and procedures. However, if your website does not pass the W3C validation test, you will find errors and warnings highlighted by the validating tool. These warnings and errors will help in identifying problems with your website’s coding and you can then have your web developer fix them. These are often very technical descriptions that may be difficult to comprehend by a lay person.
One of the basic reasons why websites often do not pass the W3C validation check is due to the fact that there are several programs and scripts that are running on the web pages and many of them do not comply with the web standards. Also, sometimes clients may want to have special features included in their website which may not conform to the web technical guidelines.
A mention of how browsers function is also important here as each browser displays a website’s code differently and to have websites work accurately without errors across all the browsers will require some work around causing the website to fail.
What are errors and warnings?
The most common error one will find is the “Syntax Error” which is shown by the validation tool. Languages like HTML and XHTML are used within the website coding and W3C contains a standard list of commands (words) to be used in the language. If your web developer uses a command or word that is not in the list of the pre set commands contained in the W3C, then the Syntax Error is displayed. Even though there may be errors on your website, your site will continue to work and run properly, but it will not have the accessibility levels required by the W3C.
Unlike errors, warnings show up when the W3C validation cannot make sense of the website coding the developer has used. At times, the commands used by the web developer are very different from the approved list of HTML and XHTML commands and as a result the W3C is unable to indicate or provide advice to the developer on how the problem can be corrected. From a more serious perspective, this can imply that the website can possibly crash or not function properly.