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Another way to look at validation

By Aaron Gustafson | March 1st, 2007 | Filed in Web Standards (general)

In the new issue of A List Apart, WaSP Emeritus Ethan Marcotte questions the way we advocate for standards.

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The debate over validation has raged for a long time, with heated arguments on both sides. In his article “Where Our Standards Went Wrong,” Ethan boils the debate down to two contrasting opinions:

  1. You take a hardline stance, rightly stating that if we fail to follow the conventions of a language, then we’ve produced something altogether different and, well, invalid.
  2. You take a pragmatic view, rightly stating that the invalid code generated by broken tools and third-party code shouldn’t negate one’s overall commitment to web standards.

He then asks So if both views are right, where does that leave us? and posits that we are at an impasse.

Further along in the article, Ethan discusses the ways we sell standards. He notes the sexier bullet points

  • shorter development cycles,
  • lower maintenance costs, and
  • decreased page weight

but also laments the our failure to sell other benefits such as

  • increased accessibility,
  • device independence, and
  • the ability to make your site future-proof.

Which brings him back to validation and how it can actually be used to sell standards.

Looking back on last year, Ethan noticed about 15% of his work time was spent working around invalid code. With that discovery, he came to the conclusion that [i]nvalid sites may look the same as those built on a foundation of valid, well-formed code, but in my experience, they invariably cost more to maintain. That may seem obvious to you, but he argues that it is not typically a feature we sell to our clients as part of that standards package.

When you are pitching a project to a client or discussing standards with them, which benefits do you highlight? Why?

Your Replies

#1 On March 1st, 2007 11:42 am