50% of “validated” websites don’t validate

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We have blogged before on this site about why a validated* website is important. I’m not going to go over the post again but I was looking over it the other day and it made me want to to find out some stats on how many websites are validated. We all know about it and talk about it but do we all do it? While researching, I came across a survey from late last year that had just what I was looking for.

It found that only 4.13% of websites they tested (out of 3,509,180) passes validation tests. A small number but still a large increase from 2006 where it was valued at 2.58% and even greater than the 0.71% of 2001.

On top of this, they found that 50% of the websites displayed the validation link despite not passing validation**.

It would seem that website owners are gradually seeing that validation is important but it is also proving to be an incredibly slow process.

It got me thinking about the reasons why it is such a low percentage. I know the stats are there after research but I just find it hard to believe it’s so low! Maybe there are perfectly good reasons that could excuse some of these results..?

Easy to lose

While a site can go live, all singing, dancing and validating, it can be very easy to do a quick update and lose validation for a period of time. For instance, we recently added an alert to our site which lost validation for a month (something we were willing to sacrifice for this short time). Could some of the sites in the survey have been reviewed at just the wrong time?

E-commerce / Content Managed Websites

With websites that are managed through content management systems I have seen website users copying and pasting from word or another website and in the process they have pulled over formatting from there source. It’s been this formatting that has lost the validation.

A last on the list thing

Ok, so this comment may be controversial but other than personal pride in one’s work and a better chance of optimisation there is not much incentive for web designers and developers to validate their code. Yes it can help render code more universally through the different browsers but it’s not as if a website just won’t display at all if it isn’t validated.  Forgetting Alt attributes for instance won’t alter the way the site looks on screen but will fail validation (for accessibility reasons) so I can see how validation may not always be top of the list.

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* If you’re reading this and are unsure of what I mean by validation, go here and click the XHTML validation link in the footer of the page.

** Web content providers are granted the right to use the “W3C valid” logo on pages that pass validation (through the use of the W3C Markup Validator) for the W3C technology represented by the icon, and only on pages that pass validation.

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