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You’ve come up with a new idea for your website. This new idea involves newer and more effective technology for the web that’s becoming hot and your company can take advantage of this and ride that wave. You go to your internet developer or internal team of developers and get the question:

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We have to add this to the website. How soon can it be done, and how much will it cost?

Sooner or later right after, you receive an answer you had been not expecting that is some version of the following:

If you would like that new technology you will have to rebuild your website or make some major upgrades to support the new technology.

What just happened? Possibly the primary reason you are in this fix is that your website was built-in such a way the “new thing” does not “fit”. Much like using a custom built car that can’t use off the shelf parts, so are you doomed to forever “rebuild” every time something new arrives.

That should rarely ever happen if your website was built in what is called “Web Standards”.

The way you and many others got into this fix could be the subject of a book but there’s little comfort in understanding the details. The end result is that there’s a standard that is becoming the focus of recent web technology development and when your site does not adhere to those standards, you will soon discover that your website is a dinosaur and can soon become extinct without a costly rebuild.

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)

The company consumer of web development services is not currently well served. The majority of small businesses’ websites are built by amateurs with no understanding of the scope and consequences of the items they are doing. Several courses in the community college is all it takes to put up your shingle and become a “web developer”. It is no wonder when asking them, “What is the W3C?”, will get you a blank stare. I have personally asked this a meetings with “web developers” and located that many of the room couldn’t answer that questions.

The W3C was formed back in 1997, which means you would think by now that it would not only be “standard” but also ubiquitous. Sadly, it has been a very slow process due to the ignorance from the consumer and insufficient standardized training of web-developers. Fortunately, the realization from the need for these standards is becoming of age within the last couple of years due to the rapid pace and demands of technology. So how do you ensure your website is made correctly?

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Initial step: Validate.

Visit validator.w3.org (link available later in article) and then paste or type your website URL (address) and click on validate. You’ll probably discover you’ve more errors than you ever imagined. The first thing is to get those error fixed or if you must rebuild, get this to validation step a central part of your development requirements.

Second Step: Check the Code

This can be hard part because unless you are acquainted with HTML it will all look like gibberish for you. The first problem is: How can you consider the code? If you have Ie, click “View” around the menu after which “Source”. For those who have FireFox then also click “View” on the menu and select “Page Source”. In the two cases a new window will be opened and can contain the HTML source code of this page. HTML is made up of tags which are mostly pairs of labels which have the “greater than” and “less than” symbols with text between. You’ll be looking for the next kinds of code and structure with an associated good or bad point value for keeping score:

Negative Values

No “DOCTYPE” on the first line of the document. Minus 15.
Do you see one or more “style” tags? If it’s very short (one or two lines) a minus 2 if longer a minus 10
Do you see one or more “table” tags? One or two is ok, Minus 2 for every after two.
Do you see the term “style” included in any tag? Minus two for each.
Do you see one or more “font” tags? Minus 2 for every.
Do the thing is a number of “img” tags? Images that directly connect with this content and also have “alt” descriptions that match that content are good, but others are a minus 2 for each

Positive Values

Do you see “DOCTYPE” around the first type of the document. Plus 10
Do the thing is a number of “link” tags? Plus 5.
Do you see one or more “div” tags WITHOUT the word “style” as part of that tag? Plus 2 for every.
Do the thing is h1, h2, h3 tags? Plus 2 for each.

You ought to have a score with a minimum of plus 20. If less than 20, you are in danger. if your negative number you’re in serious trouble. Your website was built incorrectly and you’ll have problems going forward. What type of problems or issues will a poorly built website lead to? There is no short answer unfortunately, since it depends upon how poorly your site was coded and structured. One thing for sure is you will lose out on the next benefits of a well built web standards compliant website:

Web Standard Benefits

Cost Benefits

Content it easy to handle and edit because the code is simple and free of garbage tags
Updating the website design won’t involve this content since that is in a separate document
Updating the website content won’t involve the look, since that is in a separate document
SEO is cheaper for equivalent results

Management Benefits

You can delegate responsibilities between the content management tasks and the design tasks
Content changes and updates don’t affect the website style or require style changes
Design changes and updates don’t affect the website content

Visitor Benefits

Pages load faster
Design is consistent across all browsers
Ease of content updates encourages more return visits
Ease of design updates encourages more design updates and more interest from visitors

How do you ensure that your website is made correctly?

The main reason there’s a lot of websites which are poorly built happens because you need a certain amount of technical knowledge to ensure it is done correctly. Below are great tips that can help:

Your ace within the hole is the W3C validator at http://validator.w3.org. It will become your friend and is the only non-technical way you can monitor your site.
Separation of style and content. For those who have a static website this is simpler to monitor, having a dynamic website link WordPress, Joomla or Drupal this can be harder. Make use of the “point system” listed above that will help you evaluate the site.
Specify W3C compliance on paper, within our agreements. As more consumers of web services demand compliance it is more common. YOU, as a consumer, have more power that you understand to improve the quality of web design.

Hopefully, you now have more details to ensure you get a quality website and can reap the benefits of web standards.