In my previous post, (“Web Design: Size Matters“) I explained why poor webdesign in terms of website page size is as much a concern for executives and other business owners as for web designers and (of course) consumers.
Now I want to bring up something that will surprise many people – executives and technical staff alike: Most industry web sites don’t use valid HTML. HTML is the primary building block for the web, and it is astonishing that most web sites can’t manage to use it correctly.
Why is valid HTML important?
- It helps ensure the site will work as new browsers are released
- It helps ensure a consistent experience cross-browser
- It makes web applications easier and less expensive to maintain
- It facilitates web accessibility (to differently abled individuals)
- It can enhance search engine optimization (SEO) – or at least really badly invalid HTML can have a negative impact.
If you are contracting for – or having your staff build – a web application, valid HTML should be a basic expectation!
But look at the chart below – comparing 46 industry search sites (as discussed in my previous post) with over 350 MLS public listing sites (as discussed in “A Study of Multiple Listing Service Public Listings Websites” ). Only 1% of the MLS public listings sites and 7% of the industry search sites use valid HTML.
Some MLS vendors also talk about how important standards are – but visiting their home pages only a single MLS vendor (Stratus) is HTML standard compliant at the time of this posting.
Ironically, even RealTown (my blog host) has made it impossible for this blog to be HTML compliant – though I’ve asked them to correct this and anticipate they will do so at some point. Of course my own professional web site is HTML compliant as one would expect.
Using valid HTML is an important part of building a web application – hopefully this blog post and the one previous to it have illustrated that web application best practices are not exactly universal in our industry and deserve more attention and oversight.
Test your own site here: http://validator.w3.org/
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