Has someone mentioned website errors to you?
And you thought, “Ug, what is that & why do I care?”
Don’t worry, it is a common question that I hear a lot!
Here are the basics you need to know . . .
When we check for errors, we run a program that compares the website code against the standards. There are standards for html, css & accessibility. (There are levels too, but let’s not worry about that now.)
W3C is the main body for website standards & they have a bunch of tools to help.
A note about terminology . . . we say that we are validating the code.
Valid code = Clean code = Code that follows the standards.
With me so far?
All kinds of things can throw errors. A few common examples . . .
- Missing end tags (<p> without the matching </p>)
- Missing alt for images
- Using tables for layout not data
- Using & instead of &
Some of these errors you must fix when entering & editing your content. And some of these errors come from your content management system (for example, WordPress, your theme & your plugins.) This is another reason why it is crucial to keep it all updated.
Now to that very important question – and WHY do we care?
1 – Google prefers clean code that adheres to standards so you won’t rank as well if you have a lot of crazy errors or it might even refuse to index your website at all. (If you are established & respected like the NY Times, you might not care so much about errors. If you are a small business who wants to play nicely with Google so that you get the best rankings & the most traffic possible, it makes sense to do everything you can.)
2 – User Experience – Not following standards can also cause problems for users with all their various browsers & devices – think of all the different browser/operating system/device combinations & they all handle errors differently. And then even if it looks ok now, the next browser update could make an error-filled website unusable.
I wouldn’t want to take that risk! Do you?
3 – Accessibility – Users with disabilities use tools such as screen readers that require valid code. In some countries & some industries this is a legal requirement, not just the right thing to do.
Now we have been focused on errors & website standards, but of course it is also smart to look for broken links & spell check as well!
So the answer is Yes, if you have a lot of crazy website errors, they probably are hurting your business.
Want help to check for errors? Want help to fix the errors? You probably do! This is fussy to do yourself. Reach me here.