W3C Standards: What Are They All About?

Edin Cenanovic
April 16, 2015 5 min read

What is the W3C and what do they do?

The World Wide Web Consortium, known as W3C for short, is the main international web monitoring standards organisation for the Internet. The W3C also provides a validation process (conveniently named W3C Validation) that checks website code adheres to the formatting standards designed and implemented by the World Wide Web Consortium. When planning a professional website, you need to understand the importance of having it W3C validated. If you fail to validate the pages of your website against W3C standards, your website will be affected by a higher rate of errors or poor traffic caused by poor visual formatting and readability.

What is the point of W3C Validation?

W3C validation provides tools for debugging and correcting code, ensuring websites are properly formatted according to the internationally recognised W3C standards. A validated website demonstrates the technical quality of every page.

What does the W3C validator look for?

Designed to automatically detect and highlight coding errors, the validation process checks the HTML, XHTML, and CSS code used in web pages to make sure they are well-formatted and well-structured according to W3C standards.

Can W3C Validation errors be ignored?

Often the errors identified by the W3C Validation tool seem fairly harmless. However you cannot afford to ignore them – here are some of the reasons you need to consider:

Browser Friendliness and Accessibility

Websites that are W3C validated are easier to use and offer improved functionality than other, non-validated sites because they are less likely to run into errors when displayed on web browsers . The website validation process allows website designers to correct formatting errors thus allowing readers to move through each page unhindered. Additionally, by following international standards, the code used in websites is reduced in size speeding up loading time – a key factor in improving the visitor's experience.

Multiple Device Accessibility

With mobile browsing increasing rapidly, website owners need to maximise the usability of their websites on smartphones and tablets. If you want to reach the widest audience possible, accessibility should be a big factor in designing a site that is W3C validated.

Quality Measurement

Because W3C validation was designed by the World Wide Web Consortium, it has become the official tool for assessing how well website code is written and formatted, testing the structure and quality of web pages and the code used in their construction. Websites whose web pages have been validated are considered of higher quality because they adhere to strict web site formatting and quality guidelines.

Do W3C validation errors affect SEO?

W3C validation allows website owners to simplify and improve the code used on their web pages, improving page load speeds. Search engine spiders crawl and index the content of each web page, and the code used in its construction, taking note of how quickly the page loads – the faster the page loads, the better the search engine ranks the site. If you value traffic and visitors, then SEO should be a major reason for W3C validation of your website.

Will Google penalise websites with W3C validation errors?

Google currently does not prevent non-validated websites from appearing in search results, but validation makes a huge impact on actual ranking and positioning in the results. Non-validated websites slow the progress of Google's spiders, making it harder to get information they need for Google to index content. Google favours well-built websites in search results because they tend to deliver a better user-experience. If you want your website to rank higher in Google results, you should have your website W3C validated.

Tips to meet the W3C standards and have an error-free website

There are no special tips to building an error-free website beyond adhering to the relevant HTML, XHTML, CSS standards and the W3C guidelines. But here at Green River Media we ensure that that those rules and guidelines are respected during the design and build process, validating every new section, module, and page when it is finished. If we detect errors during the design and build phase it is easier to correct immediately, before the project is completed. We also re-run validation at the end of the project to identify any errors that may have crept in during the final stages of development.

To check your own website for validation errors, try the official W3C validator from the World Wide Web Consortium at: http://validator.w3.org/

Written by Edin Cenanovic

QA Engineer