When designing a website on WordPress from scratch, it is necessary to put what seems an overwhelming amount of effort into each detail, no matter how small. These details might seem to be insignificant on the surface, but each of them play important roles when it comes to maintaining high quality appearance and function throughout each individual webpage.
Even after inputting each line of scripting and coding, there are still several additional steps that need to be completed in order to make sure that the website is effective and in good condition when it is published and posted. Validation is one of those important steps. The successful validation of a WordPress website can be the difference between a well-ranked workable website that runs on any platform, and a website full of bugs and broken images that no one will ever find.
What is Validation?
In order for a website to function and appear the way it should, the coding and programming within each individual webpage has to be developed and formatted correctly. Even the tiniest error can cause a ripple effect that could possibly compromise the stability of the entire website. To make certain all of the coding on a WordPress website is correct, it is necessary to run the webpage through a validator.
There are specific standards and rules that are outlined by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) that must be followed by webmasters and web designers when creating their online content and site pages. It may be beneficial to think of these rules as analogous to the rules of grammar and spelling of writing a paragraph or even just a single sentence, according to Van SEO Design. Validating HTML and CSS both require the use of a validator, which picks out the errors in coding for revision. One of the most popular HTML validators can be found at W3C Validator, which can help clean up any WP site before launch. Properly validated your website can be an asset when it comes to search engines picking your website out of the mass on the Internet.
After running your website through validators, take the time to correct every error. To be certain, run it again. If no errors come up after validation, your website is HTML valid, which improves your ranking in search engines as well as improving the experience of using the website for potential customers.
One of the benefits of using WordPress to create websites from templates is that most of the coding is pre-completed. However, not all of these templates are free of errors. This is one of the pitfalls of WordPress in specific, that the nature of a website creator that is so easy to use is easy to trust. A web designer, even an amateur one, should always make certain to check every page of any WordPress site carefully with eyes and intuition as well as a validator.
The Effectiveness of HTML Validation
Regardless of how simplistic the language might seem, human errors can still lead to a wide variety of mistakes within coding that can escalate into major problems when it comes to the overall development of that website. No matter how well-versed a programmer is in WordPress design, the addition of plugins to various templates can cause mistakes that can only be picked up with a validator. These may be invisible to the naked eye, but severely damage the conception of a website in the eyes of search engine rankings, which can be fatal for a small business.
One common, harmless, and easy-to-fix error in the HTML coding of a WordPress website is the “Incorrect Nesting of Elements” error. This pops up when you feed a website through a validator for HTML and have attributes incorrectly nested — for example, for a piece of text that is intended to be both bolded and italicized, an incorrect nesting is <b><i>incorrect nesting</b></i>. A correct nesting would instead look like <b><i>correct nesting</i></b>. This is an easy fix. The more correct your website is in HTML and CSS, the higher it is likely to rank in search engines, especially when the errors are in linkage text.
Most common and harmless errors that only affect the positioning and correctness of a website, rather than the workability of the site itself, are related to image and appearance. One more serious, link-based example is “lack of alt value,” which means there was an absence of alt text included in a link. While this seems harmless, improperly linked text, especially in backlinks that can drive your website higher in search engine rankings, can be a damaging blow to a website’s searchability.
Plugin errors are also a traditional problem with WordPress for the uninitiated. A plugin can sometimes throw up an error where it fails to reach a directory. There are poorly-coded plugins as well available for WordPress, but those do not usually show up in validators. A more serious plugin error is the “Parse error: syntax error” error, which does show up in validators. Essentially, this means that if you did not install a plugin correctly, it can make your links and images broken, or possibly cause your site to fail to load completely.
When designing a website through WordPress, there are two primary languages of programming in which a designer must be at least passably fluent: HTML and CSS. The primary purpose of the language of Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) is to separate the actual content posted within an online document from the presentation of that material. This can include everything from layouts and formats to fonts and colors, according to the W3C. As long as the CSS is programmed correctly, the content of the website can be easily accessed, several different webpages can share the same type of formatting and the overall structural content will not be as complex or repetitious. Whenever you are able to view the same web page on different devices with various screen sizes, known as Responsive Web Design, that capability is something that is provided through the CSS.
WordPress offers support in converting previously HTML-only websites into CSS, making it easy to change a page to a more responsive, more fluid design, one of the greater benefits of using WordPress. Just as with HTML scripting, there can be quite a few errors within the CSS that remain undetected as well unless the website undergoes a thorough CSS validation.
Not only can the overall appearance of the website be negatively affected by coding errors, but the website will more than likely not be able to function properly either. When establishing the rules for your CSS, there are so many different honest mistakes and small errors that can be made that can jeopardize the structure and function of the entire website. Even the most experienced CSS specialists and other IT professionals are still fully capable of making mistakes on any given day. The key is to make the validation process a normal part of your regular routine in order to quickly identify and resolve these errors in a timely fashion.
If the CSS is embedded within an HTML document, validate the HTML scripting and programming first to make sure that it is correct. If any errors arise, do not start any other type of validation until those flaws have been properly rectified. There are several different online CSS validation tools that can be used to quickly identify these errors on your behalf, including the W3C CSS Validator and the WDG CSS check validator, according to TutorialsPoint.com. Again, W3C is one of the more popular validators to standardize your website to exacting codes in CSS.
Validating featured online links regularly is such an important part of properly maintaining a website. Dead links can be devastating to business; a customer that clicks a dead link is much more likely to visit another website instead of continuing to search for live links. There is a wide variety of link checking and validation tools that are currently available online which can be used to thoroughly search through each of your webpages to identify broken links.
Have Friends, Relatives, and Co-Workers Check Your Site
One of the most effective, albeit overlooked, tools of validation is the opinions and feedback of other people. There are many different online tools and software programs that can be used to identify coding problems, scripting errors and broken links. However, none of those things can compare to the real-time, honest feedback from an actual person that has taken the time to thoroughly examine your website for themselves.
Amateur users will primarily focus on the overall accessibility and user-friendliness of the website. These are the people that will provide you with the type of feedback that your customers and clients will have when they visit your website as well. Use the feedback that you receive from these trustworthy friends and relatives in order to improve the overall efficiency of your website while those validation tools work hard to enhance its quality.
A company’s website is often the first opportunity to connect with prospective customers. There is not very much time to make a great first impression that will captivate their attention and keep them interested in learning more about what your company has to offer. Within two-tenths of a second they have already formed an opinion about your company’s brand and their first impression of your business is determined and reinforced all within the first three seconds, according to a study conducted by the Missouri University of Science and Technology. The last thing that you should want is for a series of coding errors or an overall lack of user-friendliness and overall accessibility to cause you to ruin this golden opportunity that you have to win those people over.
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