Valid CodeThe W3C is the internet’s daddy. They created HTML, CSS, and dozens of other specifications that govern the use of the technologies that makes the internet thrive today. Valid code is code which meets their guidelines, and can be tested in a validator, such as the HTML and CSS ones.

Does valid code actually help your blog though?

The Mythical Benefits of Valid Code

  • Valid code helps my search engine rankings. Good code helps your search engine rankings, i.e. code that the search engines can read. If you have used tables for presentation, causing your content to be split up in the coding, then Google will have trouble. However, if you just forget the trailing slash on your <img> tags, then they won’t be too harsh on you.
  • Valid code makes my site accessible to everyone. Valid code only makes it more likely that your site will be accessible. By sticking to web standards, there is a good chance that the browsers will be able to interpret your code as you’d like them to. However, each browser has quirks, and mobile devices are a whole new ball game. The only way to know that your site is accessible to everyone is to test it in as many different situations as possible.
  • Valid code buttons look good to my readers. For a technologically advanced audience of designers and bloggers, this may well be true. However, does it say anything about the quality of your actual content? And as for the rest of world, do they even know what valid is? In most cases, no, and nor do they care. Your site either works or it doesn’t. Try validating the Amazon homepage. Over 1000 errors, but the page works, and that is what matters.

The True Benefits of Valid Code

  • Fewer headaches. The most important benefit is that it simply makes sense. When you know how code is supposed to work, you can write it the way you want to, and then edit it later to account for the various browser quirks. There are few things more annoying than a bug you can’t even explain, and using valid code makes the chances of this happening much less likely.
  • Faster loading pages. Valid code is extremely efficient (That’s why they wrote it to be the way it is!). Through using standard coding practices, a certain effect can usually be achieved with the minimal amount of code necessary. This will improve further with the advanced selectors and media queries in the upcoming CSS3 specification.
  • Promotes web standards. Through validating your code, and displaying the vanity badges, you are promoting web standards. The continued promotion of these standards helps to encourage the major browser makers to work towards a goal where webpages can be compatible in all browsers. When this happens, who knows what information we could draw from well marked up sites. Jeffrey Zeldman explains it a lot better than I do, in his book Designing With Web Standards.

As a designer, I like valid code. I like the feeling that I have done something right, and in the best way possible. However, there comes a time when you have to accept that doing things in the best way possible isn’t as useful as simply getting things done.

As a blogger, having a well coded template, and using your text editor properly can only help your blog. If you just forget to close up the odd tag though, don’t worry about it. Your readers won’t.

Does your blog’s code validate? Do you even care?

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