More than Just Good Looks, Valid Too

Posted April 10, 2009 by Jim Ciallella

Underneath the good looks, OC client websites come with valid code. Here's a before and after for the recently launched Adec Group site.

A Peak Under the Hood

I thought it would be interesting to see just how much improvement is made in the areas of XHTML validation, YSlow score and a basic search engine simulation.

The Nuts and Bolts

We put in extra hours at OC in order to follow web standards and best practices. You'd think something called "best practices" would be par for the course, but it's surprising how many sites seem to completely ignore XHTML validation. I think the biggest reason for invalid code is that you can really snarf up a site's XHTML and modern web browsers are so forgiving the site still looks normal, so nobody bothers to fix it.

Properly validating a site against the W3C Validator gives a lot of advantages.

  • The site should work consistently across various web browsers. Even mobile websites will render better with valid code. Check OrangeCoat's site on your phone, we have yet to do additional mobile tweaking, but it should work well in most random phone browsers.
  • Google prefers valid XHTML and CSS
  • People with disabilities who rely on screen readers will be able to use the site
  • It shows you care to do things right.
  • The W3C lists some more reasons to validate, including easier debugging, future-proofing, ease of maintenance, professionalism, and teaching good practices.

We realize you don't always have complete control of a site's XHTML. Sometimes you have to embed inflexible, invalid code to mash-up content or apps like Google Maps, YouTube, Facebook, ShareThis, etc. Other times the site's users may type in invalid or duplicate tags and break validation. At the very least it's worth starting out valid.

The Before and After

XHTML Validation - Homepage


Before Screenshot of Adec XHTML Homepage Validation


After Screenshot of Adec XHTML Homepage Validation

XHTML Validation - About Page


Before Screenshot of Adec About Page Validation


AfterScreenshot of Adec About Page Validation

Search Engine Simulation - About Page


Before Screenshot of Adec Search Engine Simulation


Meta keywords are very rarely valuable, so we don't use them. Rather, we recommend sprinkling keywords into the pages you are writing. Also, the lack of words on the homepage was a design decision, which while not optimal, also shouldn't be a detriment if the page has a meta description, page title, and well formed menu.
After Screenshot of Adec Search Engine Simulation

YSlow - Homepage


Before Screenshot of Adec YSlow Score


After Screenshot of Adec YSlow Score
I'll point out that this site is hosted on a client provided shared host. We couldn't do the full tune-up on some things due to lack of control to recompile Apache. Had we been given control to enable gzip or deflate the site would likely score in the 92 range (due to lack of CDN usage).

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