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Re: Why specify a DOCTYPE? Why validate?


From: Mark Pilgrim
Date: May 30, 2002 10:06AM

A clarification before we get started here: the person I am trying to convince is not a client, just a professional acquaintance. So I have no financial stake in this, only emotional. However, business-related links (like the WAI business case for accessibility, thanks) are very helpful because frankly, all technical and social arguments have failed.

> Therefore, writing these pages accurately, slimmed down and with
> less
> code, will make a company's big web site load faster and display
> well
> across systems and devices. It will also be much easier to update
> or
> ammend down the road.

The bandwidth argument hits home to a certain extent, but the "easier to update" argument does not. The site is already using a template-based content management system that would make it easy to change the layout while preserving the content. (You would think this would be a point in my favor, but it is not. His site still generates hundreds of validation errors, but he has solved the maintenance problem, so who cares?)

> and some of these search engines may actually make or set
> up some sections or specialized listings for sites that are in
> compliance and coded to current guidelines, etc.

This would be a *HUGE* advantage. Optimizing for search engines is such a black art, since nobody (publicly) knows exactly what Google's rules really are. Lots of people have good rules of thumb (small page size, good page titles, etc.), but for Google to establish a baseline and publicly say "these sites are better because they're valid" would end this argument immediately.

> The W3C presents:
> Auxiliary Benefits of Accessible Web Design
> Updated: 24 March, 2002
> http://www.w3.org/WAI/bcase/benefits.html

I saw it when it first came out and just re-read it now. Here's what it says about validity:

"Applying valid HTML will assist you repurpose content for future formats and devices."

This is only true if you view HTML as a /source/ format. But if your site is controlled by a content management system, HTML is only a /destination/ format, one of many. This particular CMS also generates several flavors of XML, and stripped down "text-only" HTML pages. The text-only pages are ostensibly for handhelds, but they also satisfy the WAI "last resort" clause. But get this: his text-only pages are *still* invalid HTML... but since they work on handhelds and even work in Lynx, why does it matter?

-Mark Pilgrim

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