A page may appear correctly within your preferred web browser, but if you do not validate and check to see if your pages conform to the rules of HTML, your website may not look the same between the various browsers on any of the numerous operating systems like Windows, Mac, and Linux. When your website is standards compliant, you provide a website which is more accessible for the disabled, more friendly for search engine optimization, and has faster page loading.
The first step is to determine how you will be validating:
- Offline with a Software Application
- Online from with a Website URL
- Online by uploading a HTML file
There are various websites available which perform validation. Certain web development packages such as Adobe Dreamweaver also provide basic validation features. If the web page you are testing has not been uploaded to a website, then you will be uploading a file for validation. It needs to be saved with a name and ready to go. If your website is already complete and accessible via a website address such as example.com, then you will be validating your particular page through its website URL.
Now that you have determined how you are going to validate, the next step is to choose a validator. It is important to choose a validator which applies the standards published by the World Wide Web Consortium. Many off-the-shelf products or websites may claim to validate, but if they are not validating based on the current standards, then your clean-up efforts may not be based on current rules. First of all, I recommend going directly to the source and using the W3C HTML Validator. It provides validation through a file upload, website URL, and code sample. If you would like to perform your tests from your own computer, proceed to step 3.
If you are comfortable with Linux or the Mac, you can download the source code for the validator as well to install it on your own machine.
There are other sources that allow you to validate. Other sources include:
- Web Browser Plugins (Firefox add-ins, etc.)
- Off the Shelf Software (Check for W3C compliance)
When evaluating these other sources, I recommend that you demo the product and try it out. Based on your level of knowledge, it should explain the error (line number where the error occurred) and offer possible solutions to solve the problem.