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When surveyed, a large majority of Web professionals will state that validation errors is the first thing they will check whenever they run into a Web styling or scripting bug.

Checking that a page “displays fine” in several contemporary browsers may be a reasonable insurance that the page will “work” today, but it does not guarantee that it will work tomorrow.

In the past, many authors who relied on the quirks of Netscape 1.1 suddenly found their pages appeared totally blank in Netscape 2.0.

Whilst Internet Explorer initially set out to be bug-compatible with Netscape, it too has moved towards standards compliance in later releases.

This is deliberate, and doesn't imply any kind of browser bug.

A term sometimes used for this is WYSINWOG - What You See Is Not What Others Get (unless by coincidence).

Even if you can, do you want to risk being on the wrong side of a lawsuit if your site proves inaccessible to - for instance - a disabled person who cannot use a 'conventional' browser? Whilst validation doesn't guarantee accessibility (there is no substitute for common sense), it should be an important component of exercising "due diligence".

It is now just over a year since a court first awarded damages to a blind user against the owners of a website he found inaccessible (Maguire vs SOCOG, August 2000).

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In practice, different browsers can and do display the same page very differently.

An error free HTML page is much more likely to be rendered correctly by a range of browsers, and maintain compatibility with future versions.

Not to mention the search engine bots for all you SEO people – You wouldn’t want to put obstacles in their way, a clean and valid page is going to be much easier for the bots to read and scan. I see invalid HTML little like spelling mistakes, although the client probably won’t see a mistake in your code, the idea is still the same.

You wouldn’t want to supply a design full of typos or spelling errors, so you shouldn’t really settle for an HTML page full of little validation issues.

Here’s a bunch of validation errors that were picked out from sites showcased on the first page of a well known CSS gallery.

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