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Claiming Compliance Without Complying


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11 replies to this topic

#1 dragonlady7

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Posted 05 August 2003 - 09:24 AM

My boss (we don't need to get into how nuts he is) is now sending me all kinds of stuff to put on our website that claims W3C validation and WAI compliance. Now, I don't know if we're WAI-compliant: I was only learning about it as I did the site. To check for it would take me time. I've tried to follow best practices in making my site as accessible as possible, but I don't know for sure about it all. Not enough to claim conformance. Obviously my boss has no idea what this means, but I would really be uncomfortable making these kinds of claims.

Also, he's sent me the little button gif that the W3C provides to put on your site to show that you have valid HTML. Well... I just ran the site through the validator (I have before, too) and while it's fundamentally compliant, it sets off the validator for things like forgetting an alt image here, specifying a color for an HR there, and the like. So, technically, it's not valid.
I'm not really comfortable making all these claims about the website if they're not true. I also do not have time to go and make them true.
But... there aren't penalties for claiming conformance when you don't have it, are there? Other than looking like a total twit to anyone who actually knows what those acronyms mean, that is...
Anybody? Is it worth telling my boss to shut up and risking his wrath, or should I just put them up and figure I'll validate later? :dance:

#2 qwerty

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Posted 05 August 2003 - 09:33 AM

Those little buttons are usually a link to the validator:
http://validator.w3c.org/check/referer

So putting it there when you don't validate is probably not too wise. If you set up the link, anyone who checks will see that you don't validate, and if you don't set up the link, anyone will be able to guess it. So putting it there without actually having valid code will only make you look bad.

How much work would it be to make the site completely valid? Is it worth the effort for you? (And yes, I know about your nutso boss... :dance: )

#3 Alan Perkins

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Posted 05 August 2003 - 09:45 AM

But... there aren't penalties for claiming conformance when you don't have it, are there? Other than looking like a total twit to anyone who actually knows what those acronyms mean, that is...

Not AFAIK, no, but that's a pretty big one!

#4 Jill

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Posted 05 August 2003 - 10:10 AM

It could be a serious blow to the site and company's credibility. Exactly the opposite fact that the boss-man is going for.

Does he really want that?

Jill

#5 jbelle

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Posted 05 August 2003 - 10:53 AM

My full answer is below, but, if you're just trying to avoid a fight with the boss, make the home page validate & review the WAI's WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines). Check your site in Lynx, and then you can slap the logos to the home page.

As you are able, get the rest of the site up to speed.

Yes, there are serious flaws with this solution, however, it may be the best solution for your work situation. (And obviously only you can decide that.)

====================

While his motives are undoubtedly misguided, perhaps you can translate this request of his into the time you need to create valid markup and an accessible site.

I certainly understand that time constraints can put a serious hamper on investigating & implementing a truly accessible site, but you can knock off the bulk of these things without breaking a sweat.

Alt attributes are the quickest way to improve accessibilty and help a site validate. If the graphic serves no semantic purpose, the attribute should be null:

<img src="myUselessImage.gif" alt="">

CSS will help you eliminate any color attributes you have: I tend to use external, but remember if you're trying to save time, you can always slap inline CSS in:

<tr><td style="background: #fff;">equvialend of bgcolor="white"</td></tr>

What development tool are you using? Dreamweaver and GoLive both help you out with both of these things; Dreamweaver in particular has a separate add on called Lift that can automate some great things (complex data tables are nothin' to it!).

I truly believe that developing these habits now will only help you in the long run.

Best of luck!
--jbelle

P.S. as a related side note, I work to ensure all my sites validate and are accessible, but I wouldn't put that logo on them! You can always tell him those can often look like "Made with a Mac" graphics; who cares? (And I love my Mac!)

P.P.S. You can also use Bobby to test accessibility, but without an understanding of the WCAG, I don't think Bobby is as useful.

#6 mcanerin

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Posted 05 August 2003 - 11:24 AM

As jbelle noted, having the graphics on the site are of questionable value. Yes, sometimes they can be very valuble, depending on the visitors. If you have a site for Mac or Linux fans then by all means use the crooked smile or the penguin :dance: But don't expect Windows users to care.

The issue is credibility. Compliance icons can show 3rd party credibility and in some cases really help your site - an example would be a membership in the local BBB on an ecommerce site, or W3C for certain government or accessability support sites.

Really though, if the issue is credibility, then using an icon that indicates a false circumstance merely achieves the opposite effect - it's worse than not having it!

Not to mention there may be legal penalties for misuse of a copyrighted trademark (and they usually are). Don't think there aren't lots of people who would report it in a heartbeat, either.

You can't steal credibility - you have to earn it.

With Sympathy and Support,

Ian

#7 qwerty

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Posted 05 August 2003 - 11:30 AM

I don't know if there are legal questions involved in this... there may be. But it is clear that posting the "Valid HTML" image is a matter of permission. Here's a quote from the page that comes up when a page validates:

To show your readers that you have taken the care to create an interoperable Web page, you may display this icon on any page that validates.



#8 Thanol

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Posted 05 August 2003 - 11:31 AM

I don't understand how a little button that says you're vaild HTML will help your credibility.

#9 qwerty

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Posted 05 August 2003 - 12:18 PM

It depends on what business you're in and who your audience is. If your job happens to involve working on web sites, I think it says a lot about you.

#10 mcanerin

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Posted 05 August 2003 - 12:42 PM

At the very least it says that you are aware that there are standards.

I don't claim to know anything about ISO 9000 standards, but given 2 otherwise equal choices I'd probably go with the business that actually cared enough about their rep to go through the trouble of compliance.

It's doubtful someone would chose only because of 3rd party credibility, but it may be the final straw in the decision...

Think of it as social PageRank - a high quality 3rd party organisation "linking" to you indicates you are more likely to be high quality yourself. See, Google didn't invent it..... omg

Ian

#11 dragonlady7

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Posted 05 August 2003 - 02:02 PM

Indeed, the best solution is to make my pages validate.
I have 400 other things to do however, and the boss has no idea what I'm talking about when I point out what those graphics *mean*.

So I think the solution for now is to just "not get around to it" and if he asks, ask in return whether he'd rather have the home page done or the valid logo on there.

I mean, I guess it's cute that he cares, but he cares so much that he's doing things like watching over my shoulder as I proofread and correcting the grammar while I'm still working on the spelling. It's getting a little nutty. How can it not be Friday today?

I thank you all for your excellent input, and I shall add "make pages validate" onto the end of my list, where it will be seen to in due time but possibly not before I leave the company. If the boss has a problem I'll use the wonderful information I've accumulated here to explain my views to him.

I repeat, how can it not be Friday yet?? God this has been a long three weeks. Heck, six months. Argh!

#12 qwerty

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Posted 05 August 2003 - 02:11 PM

I repeat, how can it not be Friday yet?? God this has been a long three weeks. Heck, six months. Argh!


Um.... what day is it? I lose track sometimes.




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