So an interesting debate has broken out among the people we follow on Twitter regarding the importance of web design standards and in particular whether or not site validation is important. For those not familiar with website validation the W3C are its overseers and the idea is to have a published and agreed set of standards for best practice in website design.
The above debate was kicked off after Banjax published a list of student portfolios from the University of Ulster’s Interactive Multimedia Design degree course split into those portfolios that validate and those that don’t. This quickly divided opinion on their motives for doing so, whether the students or the University are at fault and ultimately on the importance of web standards and validation.
Which then (keeping up?) led to a debate about why Google, the behemoth and shining light of the web, choose to ignore standards in design and validation on their homepage at www.google.com
For comparison’s sake the No More Art homepage validates as XHTML 1.0 transitional. Check this link for comfirmation of that.
Meanwhile the Banjax homepage tentatively vaildates as HTML 5 which is massively impressive given that HTML 5 is still considered to be experimental, hence the tentative pass as W3C haven’t decided fully on an operating standard for HTML 5.0. Hats off for even attempting valid HTML 5.0 at this stage fellas. Meet you at the bell curve later on maybe?
And then we come to Google who’s homepage is (outwardly) fairly basic but does not even come close to vaildation with a whopping 60 errors. By the terms of the standards it’s a massive failure and so you have to ask, especially since Google are top notch at everything, for reasons why this is the case. The arguments for HTML vaildation are that the site will appear and function the same across multiple platforms and browsers, be more accessible to disabled users, degrade gracefully in older browsers (not really true) and make for cleaner, faster and smaller files hence speeding up the web. There are other reasons but these are the usual stated ones in our experience.
Yet the only reason we can suppose for Google’s homepage being as it is is that it’s smaller that way in terms of filesize, meaning that it saves them money given that it has possibly the highest traffic on the whole of the web.
A sample equation would be:
Valid Google Homepage (10K) X 1000000000000 users = £100,000,000,000,000,000,000 per year in bandwidth costs.
Invalid Google Homepage (8K) X 1000000000000 users = £80,000,000,000,000,000,000 per year in bandwidth costs. (Daft figures but you get the point.)
Which in turn means that validation only works up to a point, and goes out the window when it threatens to cost extra revenue for very high traffic sites. Which makes a bit of a joke out of vaildation as a whole really when you think about it, as the aim of any good site is traffic and, generally, revenue creation.
So are the value of the standards less important than the value of the site or are there other reasons for Google ignoring validation, along with Ebay, Amazon and a host of the other big sites?Permalink