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W3C complaint code - Does it matter?

Published on Wednesday, July 16th 2014 by Aaron Whiffin

Websites are, for the most part, written in a language called HTML. This language has various specifications that are set by W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) in order to keep code standard and ensure the long term growth of the web.

Many web developers and designers take pride in the fact that their websites validate to W3C standards, and this is a good thing; but many would have you believe that it is crucial, and even that it defines whether a website is good. This is certainly not the case for many reasons:

Web browsers do not all conform to the W3C standards, this means that in order for a website designer to create a website that works in a particular browser, on occasion they may need to deliberately need to break from the specifications. This is particularly true for backwards compatibility for older browsers.

Web developers often use 3rd party code on their websites, whether this is a plug-in for common content management systems such as Wordpress or Joomla, or perhaps a widget enabling the integrate with social media sites such as Twitter or Facebook. If this code doesn't adhere to the specifications, then it would break the website's validation as a whole.

Unfortunately until W3C, web developers, and the web browsers all work together, this will always be an issue.

Some famous examples, as of the time of writing the Telegraph's website ( has 257 errors and 121 warnings, Google ( has 25 errors and 4 warnings, eBay ( has 474 errors and 4 warnings, Facebook ( has 37 errors and 4 warnings, and Amazon ( has 494 errors and 125 warnings. In fact, the only major website that we tested and passed was the BBC (

So rather than judging a website on whether its HTML validates to W3C standards, we would suggest looking at it as a whole. Consider its appearance, whether it works across browsers and mobile devices, and most importantly, does it do its job and sell your products or services!

So, we're sure that you are wondering where we fit in. We are a team of web designers in Salisbury, and we look at all aspects of web development, from the initial design, to the user experience, the technical coding, through to the integrity of the code.

We won't try to convince you that your website is good just because it validates, but will let the incoming orders or the ringing phone do that for us!

… if you're wondering, the HTML on our website does indeed validate (the CSS doesn't but there are good reasons for this), and you can check your own website by visiting

Article by Webbed FeetUK, Salisbury Web Design

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