This month, OpenGlobal have been conducting some tests to find out how prevalent badly written websites are.
We selected 294 websites from Gloucestershire-based companies and tested them against the W3C standards compliance test. The W3C is the web standards organisation that basically dictates how a website should be written. So failure to adhere to these standards means that your website is not written correctly.
Of the 294 websites that we tested, we discovered the 94% of them failed the W3C compliance test. 94% is a shocking figure when you consider that most of these companies would have paid an external "professional" web designer to design their website for them.
I would recommend to everybody who has a website that you should test all of your pages in the free W3C validator to ensure that your pages have been written correctly. Testing your website is simple. You just enter the web addresses of each of your pages into the W3C validator tool and it tells you instantly whether it has passed or failed.
If your website pages are not written correctly, the search engines are likely to have difficulty understanding your website and so your website is likely to be ranked lower than it would do if it had been written correctly. On top of this, different web browsing software will display incorrectly written websites differently so your website may not look as it is intended to all of your visitors. A lot of software designed for disabled users may not be able to read your website at all, which could lead to a prosecution under the Disability Discrimination Act.
How has this poor professional practice become so pervasive?
I think there are a couple of factors that have resulted in this unprofessionalism becoming the norm amongst web designers. Firstly, web design is one of the least regulated industries. There are no legally recognised professional bodies for the web design industry and even the bodies which aren't legally recognised, also fail to adhere to these standards. Because of this, there are no guidelines for the Office of Fair Trading to define what constitutes a "rogue trader" in the web industry.
Secondly, there is a poor understanding of web design (and IT as a whole) amongst the general population. It is difficult for laymen to identify a bad IT specialist because people do not know the industry well enough. The average person has no idea how a website is designed so they just assume that if it looks good, that's good enough. After all, they don't really have anything else to judge it by.
This state of affairs isn't going to change overnight, so you need to educate yourself in IT and protect yourself from unprofessional IT specialists. By testing your website in the free W3C validator, you are putting yourself one more step ahead of your competitors.
All OpenGlobal clients benefit from our bespoke software which monitors their websites to ensure that they are always 100% compatible with the W3C (and other) industry standards.