How do I know that I have built a technically good website and not a hard to maintain mess that doesn’t work on all browsers?
There are a number of World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) tools I use regularly to check a website adherence to the grammar, vocabulary and syntax of the technology used. At the WSC validation site they address why Web professionals choose to validate. They are:
- Validation is useful as a debugging tool
- Validation is useful as a future-proof quality check
- Validation eases maintenance
- Validation helps teach good practices
- Validation is a sign of professionalism
Web developer tools I use a lot:
- HTML Checker: Checks Validity of HTML, XHTML, SMIL, MathML, etc use to code a site: http://validator.w3.org
- CSS Checker: Checks Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) and (X)HTML documents with style sheets: http://jigsaw.w3.org/css-validator/ Note: If you want to validate aCSS style sheet embedded in an (X)HTML document, you should first check that the (X)HTML you use is valid.
- Link Checker: Check links and anchors in Web pages or full Web sites: http://validator.w3.org/checklink Note: This Link Checker looks for issues in links, anchors and referenced objects in a Web page, CSS style sheet, or recursively on a whole Web site. For best results, it is recommended to first ensure that the documents checked use Valid (X)HTML Markup and CSS.
- Mobile Checker: Checks if your Web site is mobile-friendly: http://validator.w3.org/mobile/
- Unicorn: Performs as many of the above checks as possible: http://validator.w3.org/unicorn/ Note: the output is useful if you are familiar with the above checkers.
Web developer tools I use only in special situations:
- Feed Validation Service: Checks the syntax of news feeds in formats like Atom or RSS: http://validator.w3.org/feed/
- Semantic Extractor – Sees a Web page from a semantic point of view. Extracts such information as outline, description, languages used, etc: http://www.w3.org/2003/12/semantic-extractor.html
- RDF Validator – Checks and visualizes RDF documents: https://validator.w3.org
- P3P Validator – Checks whether a site is P3P enabled and controls protocol and syntax of Policy-Reference-File and Policy: http://www.w3.org/P3P/validator
Remember: These are tools not physical laws.
A perfect score is not always worth the effort and is even possible. For example, I use WordPress for this site and that results in a number of syntax errors generated from WordPress engine. So to me its a trade off. I could do this site in pure HTML/CSS, but I’m saving time using WordPress. If this was a commercial site I would take the effort to fix the last hand full of errors.
Unfortunately, building a technically correct website does not not mean you have a good website. But that is another discussion.