In our final Daily Gold Nugget this week, we are concluding our series on tools you can use to test your website. We hope that through these testing tools you have determined for yourself if your website needs a refreshing, or if you can continue to use the same site through the 2010 holiday season.
As promised, the tool we are sharing today is loved by consultants and hated by jewelry website designers and website programmers. We are referring to the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Markup Validation Service.
Before we give you the web address, we need to give you some background about these folks. The W3C is the organization that decides the standards that websites should be programmed with. They do not listen to Microsoft; they do not listen to Apple or Adobe or Google or anyone else who creates the technology that powers the internet. Instead, they have a counsel of people who spend a few years to decide what the next "standard" should be.
Once their website standards are official, it's up to the individual companies to follow them, or create their own methods. Microsoft and Adobe are notorious for creating their own programming technologies that fly in the face of the W3C.
The reason your website programmer and designer hate the W3C validation service is simply because it will point out every little "non-standard" issue on a website. But just because it's not in the standards list does not mean your website is bad... you just have to make sure it's tested everywhere.
Website consultants and public speakers love this tool because they know everyone's website will fail validation somehow. Don't let yourself get tricked into paying high price consulting fees just so someone can point to this report and tell you your website is bad.
Here's the tool: http://validator.w3.org/
Type your website into the Address field and click the Check button.
Don't be surprised if your website has 79 or more errors even though the Website Grader tool gave you a 90. Website Grader measures usability and where traffic comes from. The other tools we gave this week measure SEO aspects. This W3C tool is purely an indication of the compliance of your website to follow strict website programming standards.
If your website has a grossly overstated number of errors or if your get the "Sorry!" message then it's time for a technology overhaul of your website. Fixing the errors found by the W3C validator will probably cost more money than starting over from scratch.
Every new website you build should be able to pass the current W3C validation test. Your jewelry website designer is responsible for ensuring that a new website is valid with the current website standards, which are still HTML4.01.
HTML4 went into widespread use in December 1999 and the W3C waited until January 2008 to publish a working draft of HTML5, but few web browsers support it as of today. We expect that some time before December 2011 the W3C will ratify the HTML5 standard.
With all the tools we've shown you this week, we hope you realize there are many factors involved in why you should be keeping your website current with technology, and therefore improving the usability experience of your customers. HTML5 is not quite ready for widespread usage today as you rethink your website, but it will be the standard technology in 18 months when you revisit your website design again.