The W3C has a validation page one can use to check the compliance of the code in any given web page. They offer the small graphic shown here to advertise your pages are standards compliant, should you want to let people know it. The W3C goes a step further and offers a clever code snippet that will check the page the user is viewing and present the results. What absolutely blows my mind is that easily more than half of the pages I’ve seen displaying the standards compliance logo fail to validate.
Curious, I plugged some URLs I typically visit into the validator.
Of 19 general sites, only 3 validated. Just 15%. Environment Canada’s weather site was a surprise winner, as was the Federal Privacy Commissioner’s blog. Less of a surprise was Wikipedia rounding out the passing three. The losers were the Internet Movie Database, Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, CBC.ca, CNN.com, NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day, Google.ca, NASA’s Press and Media News page, Microsoft.com, PCFinancial.ca, FredMiranda.com, DPReview.com, DearAbby.com, Scientific American’s page, and OpenOffice.org.
To be fair, a few of these almost passed. OpenOffice.org and NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day had only a single error each. Most were far worse. The big loser was Amazon.com clocking in with an amazing 1366 errors on its welcome page. Frig.
I turned to technology sites involved with the Internet. Surely they’d know better, right? Of the 16, only 4 validated. Sure the ratio is better, but it’s still only 25%. The winners were Mozilla.org, Filezilla-project.org, W3.org, and Opera.com. I was prepared to raise quite a stink of W3.org didn’t make the cut. They define the standards and provide the validator, after all! The big loser was tomshardware.com with 1621 errors on its front page. Only a few others had over 100 errors. The other losers include Adobe.com, BoingBoing.net, ArsTechnica.com, PCMag.com, ExtremeTech.com, Slashdot.org, Wired.com, Ubuntu.com, Enginehosting.com, Apple.com, and CIRA.ca. The last is particularly disappointing. You’d hope the Canadian Internet Registration Authority could manage to put together a properly constructed page. You’d hope in vain.
After seeing these results, I thought it was time to stack the deck. I went to Google and plugged “web page design services” into the search box. I checked the results that came up on the first page, including the sponsored links. Of the 17 sites, 2 validated. The group of people who really should have returned the best results, managed to get the worst results! 12%. Only FinerDesign.com and GlobiWebSolutions.com managed to make the cut.
Of the losers, HooverWebDesign.com was of particular interest. They configured their website to block the validator. Customers interested in checking what should be the designer’s best work left wondering why the designers won’t allow the scrutiny. Those same designers seem to have forgotten pages can be checked by pasting the code onto the validator manually. Of course I wasn’t about to be denied, despite the extra effort. My expectation was confirmed when the validator reported 45 errors on the HooverWebDesign.com homepage. Also interesting was a $2495 starting price quoted by SiderealDesigns.com despite returning 6 errors. I’d expect better when the starting price is a quarter the way to five figures!
The other thirteen reporting errors were FortuneCity.com, FinerDesign.com, PacificWebEffects.com, Abacus.ca, ADGCanada.ca, Sonitek.ca, Web247.ca, Citymax.com, Webhosting.yahoo.com, KoreDesign.com, Dotster.com, Blackdot.ca, Odesk.com, and Biznetis.net.
Of 52 sites in total, only 9 validated. Just 17%.