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Story of the Theme Redesign and Blogger W3C Validation

This is a blog notification post. I have made changes to the blog’s design. Here is how…

W3C Valid Template

I have brought back the WP Premium theme, which I had put up to commemorate the hundredth post on the first of this month. But there are a lot of changes to it now. Just go ahead and try to validate my blog in W3C Validator. You will find there are almost 45 errors in toto on the home page, in place of nearly 600 errors when I had put up the template last time. It seems that there is no such thing as W3C valid Blogger Template.

I was at work testing this template and removing as many errors as possible from it. Now, the retained 45 are due to Blogger’s internal rendering software, which doesn’t automatically correct issues like unencoded ampersand (‘&’ not being displayed as ‘&’ which is the standard XHTML recommendation for it). With these errors retained, there is no point in using the Strict dtd for the template.

It was a really entertaining experience to fix these errors. I have been testing and tweaking the template and of course the CSS Stylesheet with dummy blogs. I could also learn a lot of new things.

CSS Tweaked

Now the CSS has come back to its original external Stylesheet mode, and it has also been validated with W3C CSS validator. I have a clean Stylesheet now. There are, however, certain warnings that I need to edit out.

Template Display Errors

The blog gets well displayed in three major browsers—IE, Firefox and Opera. Beforehand, there was a minor display problem with IE, for the sidebar. The left and right sidebars (below the main one) had some widgets that would not show up properly. Now this error is fixed and all widgets will show correctly in all browsers.

Blog Speed

It’s been a surprise that the blog is lightning fast now. Faster than it was when I first implemented the design. Maybe since I have edited out some errors, the blog is getting loaded quickly now, since the browsers are less confused.

When you visit the home page, the blog loads at normal speed. Once it is completely loaded, the browser will cache the CSS and tabswitching JavaScript. Now, try loading another page within the blog, and it will load a lot quicker.

SEO and Traffic Effects

It’s widely proven that the W3C validation doesn’t affect the SEO aspect of a website. To know this, just try validating the highest-ranking websites, and you will be surprised to find truckloads of errors in them. Validation, however, affects the display and speed of the site in various browsers and platforms. Too many errors may cause display problems within certain browsers, and that can potentially affect your traffic.

Also, when your validation is better, the browser or the search engine bots won’t get much confused and the pages within the site will be loaded faster and search engines will index them faster. These days, I am creating pure HTML posts only, and don’t use any word processor for formatting. The posts created by directly pasting MS Word documents in Blogger editor seem to form many invalid elements. Overall, it seems very useful to get your sites validated.

Blogger Story

Blogger default templates never get validated. There are, however, a few bloggers who have designed the templates in such a way that the site ultimately gets validated successfully. However, they may have to use the Transitional Doctype for the purpose. Here is the Blogger discussion group with comments by members about this issue.

Old Blogger Templates can be made to validate with some tweaks and techniques you can find with pros, but it’s quite difficult to do the tweaking in New Blogger. I have managed to get the errors of this new Blogger design down to 45 though it’s not big deal. Blogger should work on their engine get their blogs to validate. If you start a blog on WordPress, you will never have to deal with this problem. WordPress engine and CMS (Content Management System) validate and are very search-engine friendly; just try validating the WordPress home page and the Blogger home page, and you will know.

It came to me as a surprise that such neat and lightweight website as Google’s is not only invalid, but also contains more errors than certain news sites, while Wikipedia, BBC, AListApart, etc., validate successfully; Microsoft has nearly 180 errors. It’s a big shame that the web giants are not concerned about W3C validation.

Some Minor Edits

I have also done some minor edits on the layout here. The search box on the tabswiching widget has been replaced with Google Custom search engine. The blog description and comment policy had some invalid HTML elements. I replaced them with pure HTML. The layout of advertisements has also been substantially tweaked. Here onwards, I am at work tweaking the past entries on the blog, with the new style headings (green, larger) and bold style for keywords.

Conclusion

The importance of a theme in success of a blog should never be underestimated. And having the theme validated is one other aspect that can really affect your traffic and earnings. However, a fast-loading blog works far better than a rather stocked one.

Copyright © Lenin Nair 2008

Comments

  1. Nice wrap up. I also wrote a post about validation in Blogspot templates recently and I noticed your post on Digg.

    I actually managed to remove all the errors from the home page, but I had to make some sacrifices for this. Unfortunately there are still errors on the single post page. I hope they start fixing their code fast. Or they're probably waiting for the official HTML 5.0

    ReplyDelete
  2. Lenin very well written. Many major sites have tons of validation errors and very few webmasters care following W3C norms in their codes. The information you provided was very useful for me. Thanks !

    ReplyDelete
  3. I have written about validation problem at
    http://proenrichment.blogspot.com/2008/10/how-to-clean-your-html.html

    This is a genuine post.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi Lenin,
    Could you please explain how to correct the template code in terms of w3c norms.
    Like a detailed post with examples and common errors with simple solutions.
    Thanks in advance.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Suresh,

    The blogger W3C never validates fully. The trick to get it validated is replacing ampersand characters with its escape code. If you wish, I can look at your code, just invite me to be the admin of your blog.

    ReplyDelete
  6. i've applied the very same template, with lots and lots of tweak on my personal blog. I wanna apply the expandable post summary, but will do it after my exam tomorrow. here is my blog, have a look.

    http://tothecircus.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete
  7. Helmi, it's not the same template. Also there is no copyright notice. Why do you say it's the same then? This is WP Premium template.

    ReplyDelete

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