The Myth of W3C Compliance? Some common misconceptions…


I just received a pretty cool newsletter article this morning about a very touchy subject, especially among coders. While I am certainly not a web programmer and prefer to stick to making the pretty pictures and being the PR guy, I’ve managed to get myself involved in quite a few heated discussions about this. I figured I’d share this article, it’s a great read put together by Sasch Mayer, a very experienced technical writer for IceGiant.

The Myth of W3C Compliance?
By Sasch Mayer

The past few years have seen a huge increase in the number of search engine optimisers preaching about the vital importance of W3C Compliance as part of any effective web promotion effort. But is compliant code really the ‘Magic SEO Potion’ so many promoters make it out to be?

For those of you not familiar with the term; a W3C compliant web site is one which adheres to the coding standards laid down by the World Wide Web Consortium, an organisation comprising of over 400 members including all the major search engines and global corporations such as AT&T, HP and Toshiba amongst many others. Headed by Sir Timothy Berners-Lee, the inventor of the internet as we know it today, the W3C has been working to provide a set of standards designed to keep the web’s continuing evolution on a single, coherent track since the Consortium’s inception in 1994.

Whilst the W3C has been a fact of life on the web since this time, general industry awareness of the benchmarks set down by the Consortium has taken some time to filter through to all quarters. Indeed, it is only within the past 24 to 36 months that the term W3C Compliance has emerged from general obscurity to become a major buzzword in the web design and SEO industries.

Although personally, I have been a staunch supporter of the Consortium’s standards for a long time, I cannot help but feel that their importance has been somewhat overplayed by a certain faction within the SEO sector, who are praising code compliance as a ‘cure-all’ for poor search engine performance.

Is standards compliance really the universal panacea it is commonly claimed to be these days?

Let’s take a quick look at some of the arguments most commonly used by SEOs and web designers:

1. Browsers such as Firefox, Opera and Lynx will not display your pages properly.

Browser compatibility is possibly one of the most frequently cited reasons for standards compliance, with Firefox being the usual target for these claims. Speaking from personal experience, Firefox will usually display all but the most broken code with reasonable success. In fact, this browser’s main issue seems to lie more with its occasional failure to correctly interpret the exact onscreen position of layers (Div tags – this often causes text overlap) even when expressed correctly, than its inability to deal with broken code.

What about Lynx? Interestingly enough whilst it is somewhat more fragile than Firefox, most of the problems encountered by this text-only browser mostly seem to stem from improper content semantics (paragraphs out of sequence) than poor code structure.

2. Search engines will have problems indexing your site.

Some SEOs actively claim that search engine spiders have trouble indexing non-compliant web pages. Whilst, again speaking from personal experience, there is an element of truth to these claims; it is not the sheer number of errors which causes a search engine spider to have a ‘nervous breakdown’, but the type of error encountered. So long as the W3C Code Validator is able to parse (*) a page’s source code from top to bottom, a search engine will likely be able to index it and classify its content. On the whole, indexing problems arise when code errors specifically prevent a page from being parsed altogether, rather than non-critical errors which allow the process to continue.

* To parse is to process a file in order to extract the desired information. Linguistic parsing may recognise words and phrases or even speech patterns in textual content.

3. Disabled internet users will not be able to use your site.

The inevitable, but somewhat weak, counter-argument to this point is that only an infinitely small percentage of internet users are visually or aurally impaired. However, it is a fact that browsers such as Lynx and JAWS (no, not the shark) will view a web page’s code in much the same way as a search engine spider. From this perspective, we once again return to the difference between critical and non-critical W3C compliance errors. As long as whatever tool/browser/spider is used to extract text content from a page’s code is able to continue its allotted task, the user is likely to be able to view the page in a satisfactory manner.

Interestingly, one of my fellow designer/SEOs over in Japan has just run an experiment entitled “W3C Validation; Who cares?” testing the overall importance of W3C compliance to long-term web promotion efforts. Whilst the results of this, the world’s most non-compliant web page, do initially indicate that compliance does not make much of a difference to a search engine’s ability to index and classify a web page, I do rather suspect that further research may be needed in order to establish the long-term effects of this experiment.

At the time of writing however, the page ranks well with Google for the following two non-specific search terms; “Does Google care about validation” and “Google care validation” – not bad for a page which is supposed to be utterly and completely un-indexable. What then is the answer to the W3C compliance conundrum?

In conclusion I would say that ignoring the World Wide Web Consortium’s standards at this stage may well have negative consequences in the long-term, as the internet’s continuing evolution is likely to place greater emphasis on good coding practices in the future. Having said this, I would also say that the current value of W3C compliance has been overplayed by some professionals in the web design and SEO industries.

Further studies into the effects of non-compliance are certainly needed.

About The Author
Sasch Mayer, a writer with well over a decade’s experience in the technology and internet sectors, is currently living in Larnaca on the Cypriot south coast. He writes under contract to IceGiant, a web studio specialising in W3C compliant web design in Cyprus, the UK and the rest of the world.

Hope you enjoyed the article… please feel free to leave a comment 🙂


Mira Update, Techtuts is Up and v4 Release Follow-Up!

Hey gang!

Well it has been a CRAZY few weeks and I am well and truly exhausted but having some fun as well. My wife has recently returned to the work force, so I am back on full-time dad duty and won’t be around the PC as much until Corina is back in school. I’ll still be doing my P2L duties and running my shop at so no worries, I’m definitely around and up to no good!

Mira Foundation Update:

As you may have read previously, we recently became a sponsor family for a Mira puppy, which we keep for a year before he is given back to the foundation for formal training and finally, given to a blind or disabled person.

The Gang!

It’s been 3 weeks and the dog is quite clearly extremely intelligent, it took only 2 weeks to housebreak him and this is with zero crate training or paper/pad technique. So at 2 months old, Simba goes to the door when he needs to “leave presents”, obeys sit and lay down consistently and now we’re working on stay. It’s really quite remarkable how quickly he picks up on these training concepts and we’ve been practising some basic lead work with no choker and even that is already pretty advanced compared to other pups I’ve raised.

The most amusing thing with this guy is that he sleeps… CONSTANTLY! I know very young pups can sleep a good bit, but my last puppy, which was a German Shepherd, didn’t stop moving 24/7. Simba basically sleeps any time he can. In fact, when we go shopping at the mall and stop in a store to quickly browse a clothing rack, he’ll take the 10 seconds to lay down and promptly fall asleep. We took him to his first vaccination an group session yesterday and I had a chance to speak to some of the other owners and this seems to be consistent with all the other owners. Only 1 person said their dog was up constantly.

So at this point I am really happy with Simba, he’s an awesome dog and I’m having a blast! Corina is also getting over her huge fear of dogs and she doesn’t seem to be exhibiting any allergy symptoms so this is all working out quite well. For you single guys, you will be AMAZED at this four legged “babe magnet”. Seriously, I am swarmed by TONS of girls (and kids, senior citizens, adults etc etc) that want a chance to pet him, it’s a riot. Not that I’m saying you should do this for the sake of meeting people, but it’s just CRAZY the attention you get. We have to take him everywhere with us and all you hear are oohs and ahhs and cooing as you walk through the mall, it gets to the point that it’s almost embarrassing because you know everyone is looking at you and your dog. God help you if the dog has an accident in the mall, because you know all eyes are on your when it happens! But so far so good, and we’re having fun. Mira is very well known here in Montreal, so many people recognize the emblem he wears on his scarf and I’ve even had people shake my hand congratulating me on what we’re doing. It’s a great feeling and this is the stuff I will remember when it comes time to giving him back *dread* *dread*

So overall this has been a very pleasing experience so far and I truly love this dog and it’s really amazing to have a puppy around again. My daughter is just so proud of her “baby brother”, it’s awesome. We try to remind her that he’ll have to go next year, but I can already tell this will be a nightmare. Luckily we’ll be going to Disney World right after he goes back, so you can imagine that Disney + 5 year old = bliss. After maybe we’ll get our own dog to keep, although my wife isn’t very keen on having a dog permanently… we’ll have to work on her on that one 😉

Techtuts Launch

Just a heads up that Techtuts is back with a new upgrade and it looks great! This is a tutorial site coded by P2L staff member Adam and hes really quite proud of his new site, so wanted to share with everyone.


There’s a whole bunch of new features, including a new User Control Panel, new Tutorial system and a whole bunch more. You can read the official release notice here on their forums. Congrats Adam, it looks awesome!

Pixel2life v4 Follow-Up:

Well it’s been almost a week since we launched the new version of Pixel2life and it has been a huge success and people definitely love the new changes. There are of course some folks that don’t like certain elements, but that’s to be expected as you can’t lease everyone, especially when you have 30,000 people visiting your site daily. The majority seem pleased, so that’s all you can really hope for. Heck if I listened to the haters, we’d still be on v1 lol! But on a serious note, I still read all the comments be it good or bad and I will address any of the negative points if possible. Obviously things like “Wah everything sucks, where mommy?” type comments can’t really be acted upon as they’re completely useless, but things like people asking that ads be more distinctive so they can be more easily identified among the content will definitely be looked at. We’ve also had some people mentions issues with the dropdown category browser dropping too far off the page, so we’ll be addressing these issues.

Trust me, I value EVERYONE’S opinions, as long as they are constructive and not idiotic ramblings that are from people complaining for the sake of complaining. If there’s anything I’ve learned both from running a large site and working in corporate environments, it’s that people detest change. This is natural and even people that claim they love change really don’t… it’s like saying “I think out of the box”, when you clearly don’t and just do your job and want your pay check at the end of the day. So it’s natural for most people to not like something fairly different, so I tend to get the better comments after folks have had a couple of weeks to use the new system and can offer their thoughts without a gag reflex getting in the way from change-up overload.

Either way, I am REALLY pleased and proud of this release, and Nick, Jamie and Adam all did a kick ass job of putting this together from my design mockups and worked with me all hours to finish this up. Nice going guys, hats off to your hard work! For the the rest of the community, I hope you enjoy the new changes and enjoy what we have coming up in the near future.

Thanks for reading and remember you can post comments using the form below!


PhotoshopSupport Reviews Photoshop CS3 from a Photographers Perspective

The good folks at have published a great CS3 review written by Mark Galer. This is an in-depth, well written review that I really enjoyed because it's written from the unique perspective of a photographer rather than a general software user. You really get a great look at the new release directly as it affects photo editors. Great read, check it out at…toshop-cs3.html


P2L is proud to announce the release of the 4th version upgrade of the site!

As we continue to grow in numbers and in content, it became quite obvious that the current layout was unable to sustain the desired level of content without getting severely clustered. The staff had to take a step back and try to look at the site through the eyes of a new user and ask, “Do I know where to look when I come to this site?” and the answer was no. I felt it was very obvious that the site had reached a point that unless you already knew what you were looking for, it was getting a bit tough to navigate the site due to the clutter.

So, we took out the hedge trimmers and we cut away as much clutter as we could to bring you a new content deliver system that brought you the content you wanted without the clutter confusing the issue. I’m sure you realize the importance of advertising revenue to keep the bills paid, but I also wanted to reduce the amount of ads on the site as I felt it had reached a fairly high number even though they were well worked in to the over all site layout.

It’s important to stress that the primary importance of this upgrade was to change the way we bring you the content, rather than a major change in functionality and coding. The v3 upgrade was a huge layout and backend coding upgrade, whereas this release primarily consists of layout changes although we do have some new goodies as well that I’m sure you will enjoy. A HUGE shoutout to Nick, Jamie and Adam for their collaborative effort on this release, they all worked really hard to get this launched.

Let’s start from the top�

New Search:

The first thing you will notice is the refined search function, which no longer consists of a category dropdown. This was done for two reasons:

1) Most people do not use the category filtering, they simply enter their search phrase and then sort through the results for the category they want.

2) In order to perform a search by category, it requires 4 clicks. First you must click on the text field to enter your keywords, then you must click on the category dropdown, then click on the category you want, and finally, click on the Search button.

With the new search, we’ve changed the way your results are displayed to make the search quick and very easy to narrow down by category. Simply search the keyword(s) you want and you will be presented with a results page that not only shows you the most relevant results to your search, but it will show you which categories contain relevant results. If you don�t see what you’re looking for and want to narrow it down, simply click on the category you want and it will filter the results automatically and you can click on the “All” link to return to global results at any time. This reduces the search by category process by 1 click overall, making your searches faster and more effective.

Overall Layout Change:

Next up you�ll see that we�ve removed the box-like content segments and created an improved, more open layout, with fully half the ads gone and things like news and other barely looked at content taken off the main page. The primary focus of the main page is now tutorials, and they are now the dominant content, starting right at the top of the fold where they belong. We’ve created a new menu tab that will let you quickly switch to tutorials, news, reviews, interviews and Published tutorial content rather than trying to pack bits of each all on the main page. As you continue to surf, you will be able to access these area from anywhere on the site without having to go back to the main page. In the past, you had to access the main page to get to the news, or go to the forums. Now you just click news and all the latest headlines are there and ready to go!


Also improved is the general font size on the site. Every font has been increased by at least 1 point and many are 2+ points larger. The site is now easier to read and navigate for those of you that complained about having to squint to read some of the smaller text.

Date Filtering:

Taken from the Digg concept, we�ve added some nifty on-the-fly date filtering allowing you to view tutorials in the last 24 hours, 7 days, 30 days, a year, or everything. So for those of you that wanted to see more than just the tutorials from the past 24 hours, you can now go as far back as you like!

Webmaster Tutorial Editing:

Next on the list is something I am VERY excited to bring to you guys that submit tutorials� you can now EDIT your own tutorials! Simply visit the relevant source site page for the tutorials you�ve submitted while logged in, and you will see a red EDIT link next to the title. You can click this link to change the title, link and avatar of your tutorial. So now you can avoid getting your site disabled by editing your own tutorials when you change URLs!

Category Listing System:

The category listing has also completely changed. Rather than having a huge clunky menu system that was taking up an absurd amount of space, we've implemented a very easy to use dropdown system that lets you quickly access the complete category list, your favortite categories, popular categories and the published categories.

Speed Tweaks:

In terms of overall speed, the site is now faster than ever with optimized queries throughout the site and we�ve reduced the overall page size by almost half! So you�ll be surfing the site faster than ever!

Featured Tutorial:

We�ve also changed the format of the featured site and featured tutorial system. We wanted to fix this to show a tutorial only, and represent the tutorial at the top of the directory listing on the main page. So now you’ll notice that the first tutorial on the homepage has the featured tag and this will change on a weekly basis and can be purchased as always, contact me for details.

Bug Reporting!

If you find a bug, please report it in the v4 support thread at

That's about it gang, so check it out and please let us know what you think. We hope you enjoy the new changes and that you find the new content areas much easier to navigate and use.


ONOS! We’ve got worms from the internets! /sarcasm

If you spend any significant time on the internet, you’ve probably seen phishing email scams like fake login requests from Paypal, eBay or some banking institution. You probably also know what 419 fraud emails are, also known and Nigerian Scam mails. Well now, we’ve got worms!


This is actually nothing new, but proliferation of this email has been spreading like crazy in the last week and I am starting to get TONS of these lately on a few of my email accounts:

From: Abuse Team []
Sent: Monday, July 09, 2007 12:31 AM
Subject: Warning!

Dear Customer,

Our robot has detected an abnormal activity from your IP address
on sending e-mails. Probably it is connected with the last epidemic
of a worm which does not have official patches at the moment.

We recommend you to install this patch to remove worm files
and stop email sending, otherwise your account will be blocked.

Abuse Team

Now I know many of you seasoned folks will know exactly what this is, but in an age where everyone and their monkey can start a website or surf the net, I can see tons of people falling for this and clicking the link that downloads God-knows-what. So guys, this is a warning to all that this is a bull-crap scam email! They make it appear as a friendly email from a concerned ISP or Web-Host has detected an internet worm sending out bucket-loads of emails from your IP. So ignore it and delete the email or report it to spamcop.

Be safe and flee the worms of the intarweb!